updated 10/19/2010 AT 2:09 PM ET
•originally published 10/19/2010 AT 2:00 PM ET
Cesar Millan’s first rule of dog training? “To train ourselves,” the Dog Whisperer star tells PEOPLEPets.com. With Adopt-a-Dog Month in full swing – “It should be all year long, but let’s begin with October,” he says – the behaviorist is offering up some of his top tips for acclimating your dog to its new home.
After preparing yourself for a pup, you have to pick the right dog for your lifestyle. Millan warns against choosing a dog that has more energy than you do, or you’ll soon be worn out.
Once you bring your new pet home, take some long walks together, which will make the pooch a little tired and hungry – perfect for conditioning, as Millan calls it. “If a dog is hungry, he’ll do anything you want,” he says. But be sure your training sessions are short – you want your dog to have fun, too!
Someone who may need a few dog training tips? President Barack Obama, says Millan. The behaviorist stirred a little bit of controversy last month when he criticized the president’s lack of discipline with first dog Bo, based on a video from the pup’s White House debut in 2009. “Never let the dog walk in front of you, especially on the first day [you have him],” Millan says. “[President Obama] is the pack leader of the country, so he has to lead by example.”
Though Millan thinks Bo is behaving better lately, he still has a ways to go. “Mr. President, if you need my help, I’m available,” he jokes.
Millan himself is in the middle of training a dog right now, a 2-month-old bulldog puppy named Mr. Rockefeller. He’s working to potty-train the pup – who will re-join his owner when he hits 6 months old – and is helping to shape the little guy’s personality, which is “created by the human he lives with,” Millan says.
Though Mr. Rockefeller is now an unofficial member of the pack, Millan still hasn’t forgotten about his first canine love: Daddy, a 16-year-old pit bull who died in February. “I keep him in my mind,” he says. “I want to live just like Daddy.” After the dog’s death the Millan family lit 500 candles in Daddy’s honor, and they have since started work on a statue of the pup. Millan hopes to release a book and movie about him as well.
Daddy’s spirit lives on in the behaviorist’s work, too; in fact, he has adopted three pit bulls since Daddy’s death. “I’ll keep rescuing dogs, especially aggressive ones,” he says with a smile. “The pack is growing again.”
See more of Millan on PEOPLEPets.com:
5 Things You Didn’t Know about Cesar Millan
PHOTOS: At Home with Cesar Millan