Exercise, discipline, affection — in that order. That’s the prescription for a healthy, happy canine, according to Cesar Millan, who rocketed to fame after an L.A. Times photographer caught him rollerblading with 30 dogs in 2002. The photo and story led to “The Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan,” books and his current TV show, “Cesar 911,” on the Nat Geo Wild channel. A daily exerciser, the father of two keeps five dogs moving at his Los Angeles home and 20 more at his 43-acre ranch in Santa Clarita.
How do you rollerblade with 30 dogs at once?
I have good balance. But it’s easier than it looks, I have only one dog on a leash: the strongest. So I control him and everybody else will follow — with no leashes on them. It’s like ducklings. Once you control the strong, the weak follow.
Exercising a dog correctly sounds like it means lots of exercise for the human.
Well, riding a bike, rollerblading, skateboarding or anything fast on wheels with your dog is good for both of you, especially for a hyper dog. It tires him out so he’ll rest later. But walking your dog will do the same thing — as long as you walk with a purpose.
Most people do it wrong. They walk a dog from 15 to 20 minutes at a time just to let him pee or poop, which is too short for real exercise. ... So he’s zigzagging from tree to tree, smelling other dogs, getting his mind all excited, and when you bring him back home, he’s restless.
The right way is 30 to 45 minutes but with the dog beside you, obeying you. You are the leader, not him. Keep his mind working, paying attention to you, not the environment. ... It’s a borderline military feel — like a CrossFit class.
When he gets used to that, add a backpack and keep changing the weight. Challenge him.
Do you get all your exercise from dog walks?
No — walking the dogs is not enough for me. When I’m in L.A., I work out in the gym every day. Up at 4 a.m., at the gym at 5 to 6 a.m. with my personal trainer. A little of everything — I work the entire body. Lot of running and other cardio, some weights, not to get too bulky, because I want to be able to move properly. Then I go back to the house and take care of my dogs, have breakfast, talk to my son before he goes to work, then go to the show. By 9:30 a.m. I’m filming. By 9 p.m., I’m in bed.
I haven’t done a marathon yet — that’s on my bucket list before I turn 50. I have to be stronger than the rest of the pack — the human pack.
How’s your diet?
I like to try everything, so I practice portion control. If you saw me, you’d think I eat the whole restaurant. I don’t want to die until I’ve tried the whole world. I love sushi, have it twice a week, and drink sake. My girlfriend is very strict about diet. She and I don’t do a lot of carbs, even though it’s in our cultural backgrounds. We eat a lot of protein, vegetables and love salad.
Any final tips just for humans?
Ultimately, the best path to health is to do what you love. ... Feed the spirit of what you were born to be. Surround yourself with people who match your energy and support your goals. That’s why I surround myself with dogs. They always support my goal, are always happy to see me and always raise my spirits.