Saturday, 18 September 2021
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Cesar Millan protégé Todd Langston, Orlando’s own Dog Whisperer

Cesar Millan doesn’t have a monopoly on this Dog Whisperer thing. Too many dogs, too many problems.

That’s where Todd Langston has his back.

He’s an Orlando guy who went to Los Angeles and was once a waiter trying to find a better niche in life. He reached for the stars, but not in the stereotypical Hollywood way.

His life went to the dogs — sorry, couldn’t resist — when he discovered his lifelong passion: Training dogs, but mostly humans, along the way.

This isn’t an original thought, but aren’t you more of a human trainer than a dog trainer?

A coach is a good word. You’re trying to create a relationship and connection between two different species speaking two different languages. It’s very easy to be confused. For example, people saying they don’t want their dog to jump on people, that’s a common issue. But literally as they are saying it, the dog often comes over and puts their paws up on them, and they’ll say, ‘Hi, sweetheart.’

Their dog just practiced a behavior of jumping and got a reaction for you that was very favorable. So if I’m trying to figure out what you like, and I do this and you give me a warm and fuzzy affirmation, I’ll do it again. And I’ll probably do it on those people over there, because you told me it was OK. And all it takes is three or four repetitions of something for it to become a behavior. That’s why I feel we train the human. The dog is actually the one that’s teaching us what it needs. And that’s where you separate the different levels of dog trainers. Somebody can’t really give you your dog and fix it, unless they change.

Are most situations fixable in your opinion?

Most dogs are fixable. Even in the most extreme case, but not everyone is capable of dealing with every dog. There are going to be some people that no matter how good they do the work, they’re just not compatible with that dog to make the change. It’s like humans. You can’t be married to someone with too many differences. Incompatibility leads to issues. This is a greatly overlooked concept with dogs. You’re just taught that you train the dog and the dog will be loyal to you. We don’t take a step back and say, ‘That’s not the right fit for me.’ We see a dog, and within 24 hours, we fall in love. We’re ready to get married, put a ring on it and walk down the aisle. And that concept is [bleeped] up. It’s all cuteness and all this emotional factor.

When I see a dog, I don’t see breed, size, color. I look for temperament and energy and I know what I’m compatible with. I know what works for me in my life, and that’s what makes it natural. Cesar talks about this all the time. It’s a big topic in our workshops.

But isn’t it hard to properly vet a dog when you go to a PetSmart adoption event or a shelter or wherever to pick out a pet?

Can I show you? I can bring out three dogs. There will be one dog that will come right up to you and touch you, push on you, be up in your space. That’s a very friendly dog but that’s one you would consider a forward-style behavior. A dog that shows that much push has the ability to completely disregard you in your entirety. It’s like [bleep] you. I just moved you out of the way, and you petted me within the first four seconds of our relationship. In that world, that means a lot. Humans are like, ‘He picked me!’

Now comes the dog that nobody picks. [He then points to a small dog in close proximity.] See that? She sat a foot away from you. That’s showing trust. That relationship right away, all I have to do is nurture that and guide it, meaning I show it what I want. It’s already showing me our relationship will be great.

You see that dog over in the corner? That’s too much distance. That’s starting out a relationship that doesn’t have trust. I have to go out of my way to make sure my energy, which is almost always going to be too strong for that dog, is soft. I have to make sure that I don’t ever face that dog head on, or that I won’t raise my voice ever. Even if you are reading a book, and you say something like ‘you’ve got to be kidding me!’ that dog will react.

You have a front, middle and back. Who are you as a person? Front, middle or back? You don’t want to be too far off from your dog. If you’re a front, you can’t have a back. If you’re a back, you can’t have a front. That little assessment people often don’t do. I see it all the time. It’s about personality compatibility. That is more important than anything else.

You need to know that when a dog barks at you, they’re being demanding. You need to know that when your dog whines when he’s in a crate, they’re complaining. You spoil a kid; there are consequences. You spoil a dog; there are consequences.

So how does the connection with Cesar Millan come about?

A lot of luck. Back when I was working with Lynn, there was a trainer in Los Angeles [Colleen Steckloff] who did the same program I did. I got to know her a little back. Back in 2012, they were looking to do a dog TV show with a male and female trainer. So Colleen was approached and asked to find a male trainer. I was put in that hat. Cesar was also growing his program and reaching out for trainers. I got a phone call on the golf course from someone who worked at Cesar’s dog psychology center saying Cesar wants to meet you. That was the extent if it. That was on a Friday. On Monday I was in Los Angeles. I met with him, and it was a one-question interview. He asked: What comes first, energy or body language?

The other guy didn’t come up with anything. And I got it right [energy].

I was supposed to work in Fort Lauderdale only. From there, I went on to do one of the workshops in 2014. After that one, it worked out. Currently I am now a training director and curriculum director. I now head all the trainers [about 20]. We do about six to eight workshops a year.

It’s been really cool to be around him and to be able to experience his wisdom and knowledge and energy. It’s incredible to have that available. I can text him and tell him I have this thing going on, and he can give me some advice. It’s an honor beyond words. It’s been an incredible experience. Read George Diaz‘s blog at


The Bark Box

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