Who’s Whispering to Whom?

I have seen a handful of episodes from the show, The Dog Whisperer, with Cesar Millan, and I’ve always been impressed by how Millan interacts with the pet owners. He always says he’s training the humans, not the dogs.

In fact, a lot of times he doesn’t call the people owners. He calls them humans, which very interestingly divorces any statement of power in the relationship — probably because these humans are often in a submissive role.

In one particular episode, Millan visits a family of four (a heterosexual couple with a daughter and son) to help a dog behave properly and not so, um, affectionately toward her humans.

Millan discusses the dog with the family, and portions of the discussion are spliced with footage of both the dog misbehaving and of Millan speaking to the camera and explaining what he notices. What he notices is just as much about the family as about the dog herself. The mother and daughter clearly dominate the discussion, he says, while the father and son remain quiet. The dog, he argues, has identified with the females in the family, and her show of love toward them, particularly the young son, has not been one of a pack member but of a pack leader over the submissive males in the family.

Fascinating. Extreme feminism exists in the canine world too.

But since “training humans” seems to be a constant theme in Millan’s show, I wonder whether counseling offices are going to begin (or already are) including animal psychologists as an indirect way of handling human problems. Hmm. Whispering to dogs in order to whisper to humans.

Here’s a segment of the show if you’re curious: