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The MarketWatch Q&A: ‘Dog whisperer’ Cesar Millan says a long walk is ‘the biggest birthday gift you can give to a dog’

The dog whisperer still has plenty to say.

We’re referring, of course, to Cesar Millan, the Mexican-born animal behaviorist who rose to fame with his National Geographic “Dog Whisperer” television series. In it, Millan helped dog owners work through issues with their pets, using a variety of techniques.

Millan has made his mark in other ways. He’s a best-selling author. He has a line of dog products. And he has his own foundation, which supports the rescue, rehabilitation and placement of abused and abandoned dogs.

These days, Millan is back on television with a new National Geographic Wild series, “Cesar Millan: Better Human Better Dog.” He’s also behind a new safety and training product, the Halo Collar, that uses smart-fence technology to help dogs know their physical boundaries.

MarketWatch caught up recently with the 53-year-old Millan to hear about his various endeavors as well as some of his money-related views. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.

MarketWatch: If the pandemic showed us anything, it showed us how important our pets are to us. Talk a little bit about what a dog brings to our lives and why we love our dogs so much.

Millan: Well, what they bring is a natural, simple, profound approach to life. So we don’t focus on chaos, right? We don’t focus on the past. We don’t focus on the future. They keep us in the moment. In a nutshell, that’s what a dog is going to bring.

MarketWatch: What is the biggest misconception that dog owners have about their pets?

Millan: Certain breeds are smarter than others, that’s a big misconception. Or certain breeds are prone to be aggressive, that’s a misconception. Or that something is a dog’s fault, that’s a big one. Because they (dogs) don’t rationalize, so you can’t blame someone who does not rationalize.

Cesar Millan speaks about the biggest misconceptions that dog owners have about their pets.

MarketWatch: What’s a single piece of advice you would give to a new dog owner?

Millan: Don’t bring the dog from the shelter to your house (right away). Take it for the longest walk you can give that dog. That is the biggest birthday gift you can give to a dog, a long walk. Because when a dog is in a shelter, he’s just collecting pent-up energy. The worst thing you can do is bring a dog with pent-up energy into a home. The right thing to do is to take it for a long walk, bring the dog tired into the house because you want the dog to associate the new house with calmness.

MarketWatch: What do you hate spending money on?

Millan: Unnecessary things. A lot of my money goes into (my) foundation because that’s the only way I can help dogs in the future.

MarketWatch: What’s something you like to splurge on?

Millan: Food. Sushi is a little expensive. And I like going to Spain. If I’m not doing anything, I go to Spain.

Bringing a new pet into your home? Here’s what to do first to set yourself up for success.

MarketWatch: What’s the biggest financial mistake you’ve ever made?

Millan: I never made it, but it was the management group that I hired. That was a big mistake. Obviously, that was in the past. Right now, we’ve got the best pack ever.

MarketWatch: A favorite possession of yours?

Millan: My ranch. You know, I came to America with nothing, so (it’s great) to have land, to help people and animals. It’s in California, 43 acres. It is called the Dog Psychology Center, and I just love it. I rescue animals, and those animals help me help people and people come over. It’s just a magical land, honestly. It’s the equivalent of my Disneyland.

Home is where the heart (and magic) is.

MarketWatch: Do you think you’ll ever retire?

Millan: I don’t think so. I have a big family in Mexico that I take care of, so I think I need a few more years for them to be financially free. That’s something that I learned in America, that you can be financially free. But when it comes to helping humanity, I don’t think you should ever stop.

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