Case Number 18485: Small Claims Court


Screen Media Films // 2007 // 833 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // March 10th, 2010

The Charge

"When a dog is balanced, you are going to enjoy a true friend. I rehabilitate dogs; I train owners. I am...the Dog Whisperer."

Opening Statement

Cesar Millan's moniker is a little bit odd, because if you know anything about dogs, you know they seldom whisper. The dog psychologist has made a career of making himself pack leader and calming excited dogs with his energy. Since he's been doing this on the National Geographic Channel (not available on my cable system), this was something I'd vaguely heard of but never seen in practice. Until now. This past week, I've been immersed in the world of...The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan.

Facts of the Case

The Dog Whisperer: Season 4, Volume 1 has eighteen episodes, including a bonus episode, on five discs:

Disc One
* "Binkey, Kiko, and Tootsie & Ginger"
* "Reggie, Diva, Rocco & Vito, and Mugsy"
* "Luna and K9 Sniffers"
* "Willie, Major & Nira, and Zena"
Dogs include Binkey, a two-legged chihuahua who loves to hop; Kiko, a miniature pinscher who has taken over his new home, which is especially amazing because his people are Marines; Reggie, a wild shepherd mix on a farm who has been having a lot of puppies and won't stay still to be spayed; Luna, a lab mix who turned out to be "the most broken dog in the entire shelter," as the person who rescued her put it; Major, a rottweiler who helps his person cope with lymphoma but can't cope with the other dog in the house; and Zena, another scaredy dog, who lets herself out and goes into hiding when the stove comes on. People include Mike White, director of Year of the Dog.

Disc Two
* "Hudson & Orchid and LA Animal Control"
* "Gus, Abbey, and Vinnie"
* "Troy and Roxy"
* "Tara, Molly & Mandy, Olive, and Dexter"
Dogs include Abbey, who's afraid to go for walks because of another dog in the neighborhood; Troy, a German shepherd who goes after the poodle/maltese mix in the house; and Olive, a sharpei/doberman mix who drools -- a lot -- in the car. People include Ed McMahon of The Tonight Show fame.

Disc Three
* "Gavin"
* "Cody, Chloe, and Buffy"
* "Gizmo and Indigo, Diego, Valley & Whiskey"
* "Curly and Baxter"
Gavin, an ATF dog who survived Iraq but found hurricanes tougher; Cody, a blind Yorkshire terrier who doesn't take to visitors; Gizmo, a perfect beagle who has moments when people have to "watch out"; Curly, a labrador mix whose problems with other dogs make life in New York City rough; and Baxter, a Rhodesian ridgeback boxer mix who doesn't even like to see other dogs out the window. People include Richard Pryor's widow Jennifer.

Disc Four
* "Life Changing Stories"
* "Owen, Jerry, and Rocky"
* "Marley and Piper"
* "Shadow and Norton, Jake & Riley"
A special episode features the life-changing stories of people and dogs who have worked with Cesar. In other episodes, dogs include Jerry, a German shepherd who needs Cesar's help to shape up for guard duty; Rocky, a shepherd mix who cries when a baby comes into the house; Piper, a wire fox terrier who attacks a lawn mower; and Riley and Jake, two golden retrievers who are stuck outside until they learn not to jump on people. People include Eden Espinosa, the not-so-wicked actress who plays the Wicked Witch in Wicked.

Disc Five
* "Sasha and Angler"
The only regular episode on the disc features Sasha, a corgi/German shepherd mix who attacks other dogs when walking, and Angler, a blind chocolate labrador who goes into frenzies at suppertime.

The hundredth episode centers around a get-together for dogs and people Cesar has helped. Guests include celebrities Virginia Madsen, Patti LaBelle, Kathy Griffin, and Daisy Fuentes. This includes updates on the dogs and their people. There's also a bit with a crew member, who talks about re-creating the dogs' bad behavior for the camera.

Two bonus segments not seen on TV are also included. "Risky Business" finds Bubba, an English bulldog, and Lucky, a chocolate labrador, at odds as their people run a business together. "The Monster of Manhattan" finds fitness model Kim Strother dealing with Moose, a Yorkshire terrier with a barking problem. I'm not sure why "Risky Business" didn't make the show, but "Monster" is just too easily resolved, even if Cesar does get to walk a dog pack in Manhattan.

A blooper reel rounds out the extras package, featuring Cesar acting goofy and the crew getting in the way of shots. All told, there's around half an hour of fresh material.

The Evidence

"Do not attempt the techniques you are about to see without consulting a professional," the message on the screen at the beginning of each episode warns. Let's face it: even most animal professionals don't have the calming energy of Cesar Millan. This guy is mellow. He's not a pushover -- he does try to get dogs into "submission" -- but their barking, biting, and other misbehavior doesn't seem to ruffle him. With each case he observes the dogs in troublesome situations, talks to their people, comes up with a plan of action, and sets out to change the dog's behavior, often along with that of the dogs' people.

I didn't know dogs liked treadmills, until I watched a few episodes of The Dog Whisperer. Getting the dog on a treadmill is one of Cesar's favorite techniques. He's also fond of walking dogs while rollerblading, which might scare off the less-fit dog owners in his audience, and acupuncture to raise endorphins. The most interesting technique, though, is letting other dogs, especially his pit bull Daddy, socialize the wayward woofers. Tough cases get inpatient treatment at his Dog Psychology Center. These dogs turn up in other dogs' stories as they become part of the pack. I've also noticed that Cesar adopts the occasional dog that can't fit in, keeping up the effort. Fortunately for all concerned, including Cesar, his failure rate appears low.

The series is done well. The producers seem to have an innate sense of which stories will strike a chord with viewers, and will devote a little more time to those cases. One canine, Gavin, the ATF dog, gets an episode to himself, and it's probably the best in the set. Close behind is the episode featuring Curly and Baxter, two of Cesar's toughest cases.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

This set features two "special episodes," one of life-changing stories and another celebrating the show's hundredth episode. These episodes aren't bad, but they're less interesting if you're not a regular viewer. If you're intrigued but haven't seen The Dog Whisperer before, you might look for a less-special box set.

After a while, The Dog Whisperer gets repetitive, so it doesn't lend itself to powerwatching.

Closing Statement

While you're likely to find The Dog Whisperer relaxing and entertaining, it's also an informative show. Cesar Millan knows his stuff, and he's good at explaining the inner workings of the canine mind to viewers as well as the dog owners he meets.

The Dog Whisperer isn't strictly for dog owners, but you probably won't be interested unless you're the sort who'd want to adopt (at least) one dog from every episode, no matter what their problems are. I'll have to admit that I'm such a person. If you are, too, you'll probably like The Dog Whisperer.

The Verdict

Not guilty. Maybe Cesar could get a dog to whisper.

Review content copyright © 2010 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile
Studio: Screen Media Films
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 833 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* 100th Episode
* Bonus Segments
* Bloopers

* IMDb

* Official Site

* Cesar Millan