Las Vegas Sun

July 30, 2014

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Guest Columnist:

‘Dog Whisperer’ star Cesar Millan: It’s countdown to show time

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“Dog Whisperer” star Cesar Millan and Junior, his 6-year-old pit bull.

‘Dog Whisperer’ Star Cesar Millan

“Dog Whisperer” star Cesar Millan. Launch slideshow »

Editor’s Note: As Robin Leach begins to enjoy his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy — plus, the Northern Italian Lake District this year — many of our Strip personalities have again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. We continue today with the amazing talents of the man known simply as the “Dog Whisperer”: dog behaviorist Cesar Millan. His shows air on National Geographic, in syndication and online.

I love performing my live show more than anything else I do. I’ve done this show in more than 20 countries, and I am excited to bring it to Las Vegas for the first time Aug. 15 at the Pearl at the Palms.

The show is part humor, part dog demonstrations and part audience interaction. The issues we address onstage are the most common problems people have with their dogs — pulling on a walk, obsession with objects and anti-social behaviors like jumping and excessive barking.

There’s nothing more exciting than being onstage live. It’s different than shooting a TV show or appearing on late-night talk shows. The audience experience is different, too. Many people believe that “Dog Whisperer” is staged, that things don’t always happen the way they see them on TV.

But in the live show, the audience gets to see it real time. It’s real because the dog is being changed right before their eyes. To some, it may look like magic, but it’s not. It’s what I do naturally.

The energy of the audience is always high, and I get to be up close and personal with my fans. I get to see their expressions when a dog owner goes from being unable to control their dog on a walk to total control and relaxation.

Anything can happen onstage, so I have to be prepared. I remember one show in New York when a dog got away from its owner and jumped onto the lap of an unsuspecting audience member. The dog started licking the lady, and the audience went crazy with laughter. And then there is Junior, my 6-year-old pit bull who is always trying to upstage me.

I don’t meet the dogs that I work with onstage before the show and for good reason. I don’t want any advance clues about their behavior. I want to see the problem as the audience does, when that human and dog walk onstage for the first time. I want my reaction to be authentic.

I am nervous before every show. My heart is racing as the announcer gives my introduction and the crowd goes wild. I take one last deep breath and my nerves vanish as I step onstage. I connect with my audience through humor. We start with a few funny skits about how humans misunderstand dogs. People are laughing at themselves.

Once the audience is relaxed and humor has softened them up, I bring out the dogs. I have only a matter of minutes to correct and change bad habits and behavior. It could be chasing humans, food aggression … you never know what you’re going to get.

There’s nothing like performing onstage, and I know that there’s going to be nothing like doing it in one of the most exciting cities in the world. You never know what you’re going to see. Every show is different. But it will be entertaining, educational and inspirational.

Check out our other Sunday guest columns from platinum-blond burlesque star Sabina Kelley and restaurateur Sami Ladeki. On Monday, it’s singer Sky Dee Miles and the Food Network superstar Buddy “Cake Boss’ Valastro.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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