Can Cesar Millan Help Alan Colmes' Dog?
This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," November 7, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
RICH LOWRY, GUEST CO-HOST: Alan, along with his dog, Bonnie, recently sat down with renowned dog whisperer Cesar Millan to discuss his TV show on the National Geographic Channel and his new book, "A Member of the Family."
COLMES: This is my dog Bonnie. He's shaking right now. He's very nervous being on television.
CESAR MILLAN, AUTHOR, "A MEMBER OF THE FAMILY": This is his first time?
• Video: Watch Alan's interview with renowned dog whisperer Cesar Millan
COLMES: First time on TV.
MILLAN: I was very nervous when I started my show.
COLMES: Is that right? So you're just like Cesar, Bonnie. He's a 14-year-old beagle.
COLMES: He keeps — my wife keeps him in pretty good shape.
COLMES: But he's got separation anxiety. He's nervous in new situations. You can see him shaking right now. And I realize in reading your book, "Member of the Family," that everything I'm doing is wrong. You probably hear that a lot.
MILLAN: I hear that a lot which is good. That lets me know that I'm helping people to understand why it's so important not to give affection when the dog is having, like, a nervous problem.
COLMES: What do you do? My instinct is to pet him now, because he's shaking, and that's probably the wrong thing to be doing, right?
MILLAN: In the dog world you're nurturing the behavior. And so you don't get rid of the behavior. You're actually nurturing the behavior, the very behavior that you don't like.
COLMES: He settled down. I just stopped petting him, and now he's settled down for a second. There's a lot of — the same psychology you use with dogs is similar to what you use with people. Right?
MILLAN: Yes. Kind of the same energy works. Also to lead people, you know, to us. To stop being, you now, in a fight state, a flight state, or an avoidance state.
COLMES: Your other books were philosophy.
COLMES: And this book, "Member of the Family," is really kind of a how-to book, like how do you deal with a dog day-to-day?
MILLAN: Yes. How do you practice, you know, the dog psychology, how you practice the energy that I talk about, how do you implement it? More importantly, as a family, because a lot of times when I come to people's home, the dog gravitates to one member of the family, and nobody else can do anything with the dog. So I think it would be great if everybody in the family acts as a pack leader.
COLMES: I notice when you met Bonnie, you're not really interacting with him. You kind of let him come to you. And one of the mistakes people make is they lunge for the dog.
COLMES: They want that dog to like them, and they think the way to get the dog to like him is to be aggressive toward that dog. And that's the wrong thing to do.
MILLAN: Well, dog lovers love to go, "Oh, my gosh, look how cute your dog is." You know? I like to teach people to have the knowledge, and at the same time, you know, keep the love. So a knowledgeable dog lover.
COLMES: How is it you have this effect on dogs? You have almost this magical effect, and it's all energy, isn't it? It's not even language.
MILLAN: It's exactly — I think it's a more universal language, which they know if I'm nervous. They know if I'm happy. They know if I'm calm and assertive. They know. They don't know my name, you know, but they definitely know what energy I'm projecting at that time. And at the same time, I'm very respectful to the way they greet each other: nose, eyes, ears. I respect that a lot, because I know that isn't the way...
COLMES: So no see, no touch, no...
MILLAN: No hugs. No eye contact.
COLMES: When you first meet them.
MILLAN: No touch, no eye contact, which is very good, also, to teach to the children. A lot of kids want to go and touch a dog, but if it doesn't belong to them or they give eye contact to a dog that doesn't belong to them, that can create a challenge to a dog.
COLMES: So this is counter intuitive to a lot of people, but what we don't do often is look at things from the dog's point of view. Right?
COLMES: We get into the mindset of the dog.
MILLAN: Yes. I believe that we can rehabilitate all dogs. In America, I believe that we can stop all the bites and the flight and the avoidance.
COLMES: All of that?
MILLAN: We can stop it. I mean, dogs don't want to be unstable. Dogs want to be balanced.
COLMES: So you talk about how you train people. It's not dogs you train, it's people. Right?
MILLAN: I train people. I rehabilitate dogs.
COLMES: Often, if there's a problem in the family with an animal, it's the family that's got the imbalance. Dogs stay balanced. You've got to almost be a shrink.
MILLAN: I have to inspire them for them to understand that it's very good to work as a team. You know, that it's a project to love a dog. It's not just every once in a while you do a walk or every once in a while you tell the dog sit down or stay or "don't do it."
COLMES: I'm glad we got Bonnie here just to relax her. I don't think he knows he's on television.
But you also talk about, in this book, how — I never looked at it this way — your whole family is a pack. Dogs — we think of dogs as being in packs.
COLMES: But looking from a dog's perspective, your family is part of a pack, and you've got to assert that you're a leader of that pack.
MILLAN: Very important. You know, we see ourselves as a family, which is the same thing as a pack, you know. We're pack oriented species. That's why we gravitate to other species who are pack oriented species. But it's very important that my wife, my kids, play the leadership role so my dogs listen to them the same way they listen to me.
COLMES: What's the most difficult case you ever had? Is there one that stand out as extremely difficult?
MILLAN: Right now I'm working with a case that...
COLMES: Other than the one you're looking at right now.
MILLAN: I haven't been working with him. I'm just observing him right now.
But one of the most difficult cases so far is right now I'm working with a dog that is a mixed Doberman-Greyhound. Her name is Baby Girl, but with her it looks like she's looking at ghosts all the time. So I'm trying to figure out what really happened to her.
COLMES: If a dog has a problem, is it because they were brought up wrong? It's usually a human's fault that there's a problem in a pack, a pack meaning a family and its animals?
MILLAN: Unconsciously, people make mistakes. You know, unconsciously, people...
COLMES: It's our fault, basically, that...
COLMES: It's not the dog — it's never the dog's fault.
MILLAN: Dogs are — dogs when they grow up by themselves or when they are in their own habitat, they have no issues. They only develop issues when they come and live with humans.
COLMES: It's our fault.
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