Humans create the problem

BEST FRIENDS - Dog guru Cesar Millan's new show, Cesar 911, will be looking at how human behaviour influences those of canines.

SINGAPORE - Fans go barking mad for his expertise.

We have seen Hollywood's favourite Mexican-American dog guru Cesar Millan work his magic on his popular TV series, Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan, rehabilitating almost every wayward canine that comes his way and driving them back onto the path of submission with their owners.

Whether he is dealing with an animal that is aggressive, scared, lazy, compulsive or jealous, he has proven that no dog problem is too big.

The self-taught 44-year-old celebrity dog trainer even has his own take on the local dog attacks at Pasir Ris Camp last December after we explained it to him.

The New Paper reported on Friday that several people, including national servicemen, fell victim to a pack of aggressive dogs which roamed the area. The dogs have since been taken away by animal activist groups and shelters.

"When you see dogs in the street, you can't expect them to not be territorial.

"The problem behind stray dogs is one that was created by humans.

"There is a reason they're there and it's possibly because of over-breeding," Millan told The New Paper over the phone from Los Angeles yesterday.

"When these dogs were abandoned and left to survive on their own in the street, nobody ever told them 'Oh, by the way, it's wrong to bite people'," he said.

The episode at Pasir Ris Camp has resulted in a 24-year-old female defence executive officer with the Ministry of Defence getting bitten twice within a month. She was treated at the camp's medical centre.

Millan said: "You have to understand that these dogs are like homeless people, they camp from place to place and when they find a spot, it is instinct to protect it.

"And society immediately labels the dogs aggressive whenever a situation like this happens.

"But nobody can expect them to be domesticated without providing some kind of help to them.

"It is in their nature to be in survival mode, and hence, territorial."

PROXIMITY

Millan also spoke passionately about how to deal with a situation when confronted by a stray dog.

He advised: "The first thing you need to remember when you come across a stray dog is proximity. As soon as you add distance between yourself and the dog, you're safe.

"The best way of controlling the situation is either you stop and wait until he retreats or you stop and you retreat.

"If you, however, make a sudden movement, that's going to introduce tension." Millan added that keeping one's composure is also key.

He explained: "I don't feed any fear in me, or anxiety; I get very calm.

"Believe it or not, what will be instrumental in blocking the animal from attacking you is for you to be calm and unafraid.

"An aggressive dog wants you under stress before it attacks. If you are calm and in control of yourself, it slows them down and throws them off."

Millan, who was last in Singapore in 2012 for a show at Marina Bay Sands, will be back in town as part of his Cesar Millan Live Asian tour to share his unique techniques on how to fix common dog misbehaviour.

He also has a new TV series, Cesar 911, which will premiere in the US this month on cable channel Nat Geo WILD. It looks at how human behaviour influences dog behaviuor and features him rescuing whole neighbourhoods that are terrorised by unruly pooches.

Millan said: "After Dog Whisperer ended, I received a lot of e-mails asking for advice on their neighbour's dogs or how to help community dogs.

"In Dog Whisperer, I focused on rehabilitating dogs. In this show, I focus on how the person's behaviour influences the dog's behaviour.

"So this time, I rehabilitate humans, which will in turn have an impact on the dog."

crobert@sph.com.sg

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