Cesar Millan worries Pres. Obama won’t be ‘pack leader’ with new puppy

As the Obamas welcome their new puppy Bo into the White House, it’s completely normal for utter strangers to chime in about dogs in general, and Bo in particular. One of these strangers is Cesar Millan, better known as The Dog Whisperer.

In the past few years, Cesar’s popularity has grown, as well as criticism over Cesar’s methods. Many animal advocates and animal trainers don’t care for Cesar’s refrain of “Be the pack leader!” Being the pack leader, for Cesar, tends to involve showing the dog who is boss by any means necessary, even if it means holding an aggressive dog down or using a muzzle. Cesar always makes it work on the dogs, and another one of his popular sayings is “I’m retraining the owner, not the dog.”

Cesar is concerned about Barack and Michelle’s “pack leader” abilities, but not too concerned. Cesar tells People Magazine that President Obama has a natural “calm, assertive energy”, but mean and women who are “pack leaders” at work don’t always “apply this ‘pack leader’ frame of mind with their dogs”. People has more:

President Obama may be the leader of the political pack, but it will take work to make sure he holds that title inside the White House with the new First Puppy, Bo.

So says dog behavior expert Cesar Millan (a.k.a. The Dog Whisperer), who has some words of advice for Obama, 47, his wife Michelle, 45, and daughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, who unofficially announced their adoption of the Portuguese Water Dog puppy on Sunday.

“When I watch President Obama speak, it’s clear that calm, assertive energy is something that comes naturally to him,” Millan, whose National Geographic Channel series enters its fifth season this fall, tells PEOPLE Pets. “But often men and women who are leaders in the workplace don’t apply this ‘pack leader’ frame of mind with their dogs. That’s how problems develop.

“It isn’t just the President who has to set rules, boundaries and limitations for the dog,” adds Cesar, who with wife Ilusion has two sons, Calvin, 10, and Andre, 14. “Michelle and the kids have to be pack leaders, too!”

From People Magazine

Considering it’s the girls’ first animal, I wouldn’t expect Sasha and Malia to be very calm and assertive with their new puppy. Most likely the first few months of Bo’s time in the White House, he will be something of a doll for them. But they’ll learn how to be better dog owners, given some time. My worry is that the girls will start to fight over Bo – who Bo gets to sleep with, who gets to brush him out, all of that. Perhaps another dog is in their future… then they could have a real “pack”.

Cesar Millan is shown with his wife on 8/21/08. Credit: PRPhotos President Obama is shown at the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House on 4/13/09. Photo courtesy of White House. Credit: Chuck Kennedy

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22 Responses to “Cesar Millan worries Pres. Obama won’t be ‘pack leader’ with new puppy”

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  1. RAN says:

    Seriously… with all the things to worry about with the government, homelessness, and joblessness… this guy is worried about who’s going to be boss of a little dog in the White House?


  2. geronimo says:

    My dog hates this man.

  3. john says:

    He’s is brilliant at what he does. Remember you’re seeing it from a HUMAN perspective, not how dogs live! So easy to judge. The articles are so biased on this website!

    Cesar does NOT use “any means necessary”. That means everything including kicking, biting, being abusive etc. No. Most people are far crueller to their animals every day especially children. Molly coddling a dog who wants to just be left alone for some peace is abuse. You guys wouldn’t see it that way though, right? cos its love aww!!

    seriously, leave the dog training to the experts like Cesar. He has a pack of animals that have been so badly treated they’d be put down if he hadn’t taken them in and readjusted them to being a happy dog again.

    the only reason cesar sometimes has to retrain what may look a little harshly (although it makes sense to the dog) is because of ignorant fools like yourself that have ruined the dog in the first place.

    Cesar had to sort out Oprah Winfrey’s dogs bad behaviour, caused by herself. And in this case, he is merely letting them know before hand he can see the exact same thing happening. That’s responsible dog ownership, trying to sort out the probs BEFORE they start. Worrying about who gets to brush the dog? where it sleeps? seriously, this article is rediculous. Forget yourself, concentrate on whats best for the dog.

  4. geronimo says:

    LOL! John. Calm down.

  5. HEB says:

    I’m sure the Obamas have several very capable dog trainers at their disposal, everything will be fine.

    Even if the President needs to devote his time to his job and not his dog.

  6. Ryo says:

    Cesar’s methods seem to work better than some of the other people they’ve got on the Animal Channel at least. Some of those people clearly don’t know WHAT they’re doing.

    If Obama does end up having trouble with the dog, it’s not like he won’t be able to afford some training for it.

  7. Polkasox says:

    I agree John, that was biased – Cesar is very, very humane with dogs. I’ve read one of his books and it explains the way dogs think very well – many people think their dogs are “little people”, but they’re animals. They don’t think like people. And treating them like a baby is not doing the dog or the owner good at all.

    I know not everyone may agree with Cesar’s pack leader ideals, but you’d be hard pressed to find something else that works better.

    @RAN – He’s a dog expert, what do you expect him to be commenting about? If he were talking about economics you’d surely be mocking him, saying he’s just a dog trainer.

  8. Hieronymus Grex says:

    A big, “ZZZZtttttt,” to Cesar

  9. MonicaBee says:

    It’s crazy to me that people actually think that doing alpha rolls on dogs is still acceptable training.

    I tried that crazy technique with my rottweiler when he was a puppy (because Cesar Milan was the end all, be all of dog “trainers”), and it got me nowhere. I fortunately decided to hire an actual dog trainer with actual training/behavior credentials, and have a very happy, well rounded dog. Fancy how that works, eh? No dominance rolls, no “ttsssssht” and poking the dog… Just reinforcing good behavior and ignoring bad behavior.

    I’ll add that I do think that Cesar Milan brings “vicious” breeds into a more positive light, but I think there are better ways to go about training without being physical with a dog.

  10. j. ferber says:

    Obama’s leadership skills are just fine, thank you very much. More than fine. So his ability to dominate a puppy is moot at best. That being said, dog ownership can be a power struggle, a struggle I’ve always lost (as in being dominated by an 11 pound bichon frise). The puppy is adorable, though. I’m glad the girls finally got him.

  11. for_realz says:

    Personally, I can’t stand this “dog whisperer” dude. I think his methods suck, and don’t seem very effective or empowering to the owner.

    However, I do LOVE LOVE LOVE Victoria Stillwell from the show “It’s Me or the Dog.” Her methods are very effective and she has NEVER raised a hand or a voice at any of the dogs she has worked with. Although I am a cat person, I use her training tips when encountering badly behaved dogs with much success.

  12. Obvious says:

    @John, my boyfriend’s Aunt was on the show. The crazy beagle lady is her.

    Well let me tell you something, Giz is worse now than he was before the show. When he hears Cesar’s voice on the tv he literally runs screaming from the room.

    Doesn’t that say the man is doing something wrong?

  13. CJ Anderson says:

    It IS amazing how many people ignore the fact that only the most extreme last chance dogs make it on the show. Dogs that are about to be euthanized for their behavior that no one else has been willing or able to help. These same people ignore the documented long-term success of the behavior changes by the owners themselves which are easily found in “The Dog whisperer Season 1-3 Episode Guide” follow up stories. (Season 6 has been picked up so there will be a volume two follow-up on the next three seasons).

    Even more importantly, are the thousands of success stories of how people have used Cesar’s solutions, to safely and correctly, change their dog’s behaviors. While there are many places on line, one can read about this, perhaps the easiest is simply to browse through the public archive of the over 3,000 member yahoo groups email list where people work together to learn how to apply Cesar’s solutions appropriately (based on their knowledge and skills) to their unique environments and conditions.

    As a simple college teacher of workplace safety, I have been able to work with last chance dogs who were literally next in line for euthanizing, many of the almost 40 that I have worked with are on my you-tube site. Several have passed therapy dog testing.

    In my county alone, 55,000 dogs a year are abandoned, 500 a day to the County Animal Control to deal with who has had a 40% euthanizing rate. My efforts are helping to reduce that by not only helping those dogs stay in their homes having empowered their owner to change bad dog behavior, but also taking “difficult to adopt” or unadoptable dogs in, turning them into good dogs and finding new forever homes for them, through a rescue willing to work with these more challenging dogs.

    Anyone can misinterpret or mis-apply Cesar’s way to get hurt or fail in the process.
    Then they claim Cesar’s way doesn’t work. This is no different then getting in the car to drive, then blaming the car because the driver didn’t understand well enough to put in and turn the key to get the outcome they wanted.

    There are however many resources and support systems available online, in print, and in DVD/TV form for those who are willing to learn how to apply Cesar’s way to improve their dog human relationships!

  14. rbsesq says:

    CJ Anderson, very well said! I could write pages about this as I have a very well loved 90lb american bulldog who has benefitted from Cesar’s methods. However, I think others have said it quite well.

    Though I would just like to reiterate that this man SAVES dogs. Not just the dongs he trains for others, but the dogs he rescues who live in his training center. Dogs who would otherwise be euthanized.

  15. the original kate says:

    my two cents: i have two mastiffs that i trained using victoria stillwell’s positive reinforcement/clicker method (my vet’s recommendation. when i asked about cesar milan she laughed and said “he has no idea what he’s doing!”),and it worked great. it took time, but my dogs are well behaved and i trust them totally. that is a good thing, because there is no way in hell i could “alpha roll” one of my dogs – at 120 lbs. each they weigh more than i do! cesar claims that in the wild, the alpha wolf “rolls” the lesser wolf to show dominance…um, no. wolves and dogs do not roll each other, therefore rolling your dog will only confuse it. plus the whole tying your dog to the treadmill bullshit…great idea! a walk is about more than tiring the dog out, it is about bonding.

    it seems to me his method involves two approaches: 1) exhaust your dog every day with 2 hour runs, treadmill stints, etc. so they will be too tired to get in trouble and 2) dominate them. all that teaches my dog is to fear me. any vet will tell you a scared dog is a dog who will bite. an “alpha wolf” (and even that status is disputed by some naturalists) teaches with patience and love, taking care of the pack, not terrorizing it. many animal organizations, animal behaviorists and vets have spoken out aginst his methods, saying they are dangerous for both dog and owner. by the way, cesar is NOT an animal behaviorist or a vet – he used to be a dog groomer/walker.

    sorry for the long rant, but this guy’s methods scare me. i guess his whole last chance dog rehabilitation thing is fine, but telling regular people with regular dogs to use aggression is just asking for trouble.

  16. greentiger says:

    Well I normally don’t comment but I have worked in a shelter and as a groomer. I have been on both ends of the spectrum as for dog training. Cesar as I see it has not rolled every dog on his show. He looks at each case differently. If you see his energy he has never been angry or abusive. I think many dog lovers just cannot imagine being strict with their furry babies.

    I used to cue and blow kisses and then wonder why my dog never came to me or listened. Then I got a job at a groomer’s and let me tell you there is no baby talk going on. It’s like being a nurse or doc. You gotta take control calmly without freaking out your dog.

    Working in the shelter as an assistant to a wonderful woman who was calm assertive with all the dogs taught me how to change my doggy ways. Dogs responded to me differently. They came to me willingly. They were calm, not afraid.

    My new dog that we adopted had horrible fear aggression with other dogs. He is also a nervous boy. However, using many of Cesar’s methods such as having him sit until he is calm before the leash goes on him. Feeding him when he is calm. Giving kisses when he is calm. Correcting him with a firm but calm touch or snap of my fingers and a low “hey” has greatly improved this little guy. He can actually sit and enjoy many other dogs walk by, without misbehaving.
    He has also become less nervous. He has developed into a more confident happy dog.

    I think that Cesar cares deeply for animals you can see it. Most people want the quick fix and are to lazy and just want a perfect pup that takes no effort.

    BTW Cesar has expressed many times if one is lucky enough to have a dog that is naturally calm then by all means you don’t need to work that much if at all.

    I do hope for the Obama’s and Bo that they have excellent trainers to guide them. I think its great for kids to grow up with animals.

  17. irl says:

    The man says all the time if you have a happy, well adjusted dog then a lot of his methods are not for you and your dog.
    His methods are for dogs with behavior and emotional problems. Dogs that are on their way to being put down, that no one can live with any more. He helps the owners who don’t know what to do anymore and at their wits end to understand their dog, get the changes and get results.
    I don’t understand the upset over alpha rolling the dog either. It does not hurt the dog at all. Plus he doesn’t alpha roll every dog. He’ll even tell you not every dog needs it. He is really pretty amazing. People not giving him his due credit and then try to compare other trainers are missing the point of his work.

  18. the original kate says:

    @greentiger: i agree, people so often want a quick fix, especially with puppies. having a dog takes alot of patience, and alot of training…kind of like a small child! i hate it when i am at the dog park and there are dogs who are clearly out of control, starting fights, running off and not coming back,etc., and the owners either ignore them or just scream at them for a half an hour. i feel bad for those dogs, they are in dire need of training of some sort.

  19. Bodhi says:

    I think the owners need training! I hate that to, original kate. we hardly take our dogs anymore, there are too many people who simply can’t control their dogs

  20. RAN says:

    @ Polkasox – see the original kate’s comment and stop running around like a sheep. In this country, we try to pay attention to more than one thing at a time.

  21. Ruffian9 says:

    Cesar…shut up..really..I’m sure the Obamas have the ear of real behaviorists if/when needed…

    As for the whole alpha-rolling debate, all I can add is that if you’re thinking of trying it yourself, you better be damn sure you know the dog involved extremely well and can read the dogs body language accurately before attempting this manoeuver.

    Just curious, does Milan call himself the Dog Whisperer as in ‘The Horse Whisperer’ Monty Roberts? I’ve seen Roberts work, and it’s miraculous. He deals in trust and gentle persuasion, it’s beautiful to see.

  22. Person says:

    loool its so funny to see how worked up people get.