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For a few years (2009-2010 I’m guessing), and five days a week, I watched:  “The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan” on the National Geographic channel.  It comes on here in New York City at 2pm, which is a half hour after the playgroup ends for the day.  On Friday nights there are often new episodes.  I think I’ve seen them all.  At least two times.  I still watch it, though not as regularly.  His show is like a child-rearing tutorial, and great entertainment.  When I chanced upon it at some point in 2008, the show seemed to be catering to a small and rarified segment of the population, and I dismissed it.  However, Cesar Millan was very interesting.  I tried watching it again, and then again, starting to recognize myself in him and his unconventional approach.

As I write, I’m remembering my friend Genie saying a few years back: “Don’t tell the parents about this!  They won’t like their children being compared to dogs!”  Of course humans are much more complex, but many of the same principles apply:  Our desire to be part of a group (a family, a “pack”); our need to have a leader (a parent, teacher, spiritual advisor, therapist); our need to have rules and boundaries (knowing what to expect, generally speaking); and our need for affection, connection, and having our basic needs fulfilled.  Cesar (you get to call him that after a while) is actually extremely logical.  He trusts his intuition, backed up by years of experience, and allows ideas to flow.  He’s not afraid to try something that at first may seem a little odd, like getting in the cage (going in backwards, avoiding eye contact) with a fearful dog, and waiting until the dog indicates some trust; then slowly guiding the dog out of the cage to begin building more trust.  His sure and gentle touch is instantly sensed by the dog he is working with.

Cesar has a signature sound when he wants to get a dog’s attention:  “Tssst!” or “Hey?!”  I just realized the other day that I also have sounds (that I’ve been using since my daughter, Sara, was little) I make when I want to get a child’s attention or to redirect her/him if she/he’s getting stuck in a negative mode.  It’s sort of like: “Habadah!” or “Buppbuppbupp!” or “Dupp, huppup!”  It always makes kids laugh – it really works.  I also have a few playgroup rules: No laughing, no smiling, no playing and no having fun.  That works too.

Published inCesar


  1. Erika Erika

    His methods work on husbands as well! Another great post!

    • Anonymous Anonymous

      Thank you, Erika —
      – Judy –

  2. amy amy

    We have 2 dogs and 2 children. My mother always said, “Dogs are great prerequisites for kids!” I agree. I can’t imagine our lives without dogs and the joy they bring to the family. We love using, “No laughing, no smiling, no showing your teeth.” It works every time on cranky children. “Treat” works on all of us, especially if we’re talking refrigerated swedish fish!

    • Anonymous Anonymous

      Thank you, Amy. It’s so great to feel your ideas are shared with
      other people you
      respect and love.
      – Judy –

  3. Zoe Coombes Zoe Coombes

    I can’t believe I once apologized to you for citing an example from the DogWhisperer at your loft! I was like, I hope Judy doesn’t think I think of my child like one of the crazy dogs on CesarMilan’s show?!

    Later- “David, I was just trying to say, that he seems to like having a job, like those dogs like having a bottle of water to carry on the DogWhisperer.”

    In retrospect, after reading that you also went through major Cesar immersion, this is hilarious. I have to find Jeffery Inaba’s interview with CM and what it meant for architecture, so I can send you a copy. Most interesting piece of building theory I’ve read in a long time..

    • Anonymous Anonymous

      Zoe –
      Thanks so much for this response – I don’t remember your comment, but am
      so happy that you agree that Cesar is amazing. I really look forward
      to reading
      the interview with Jeffery Inaba.
      Be well!

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