Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

March 29, 2013

‘Dog Whisperer’ enlightens

Diane Raver
The Herald-Tribune

— John Rohrig, a 2009 Oldenburg Academy graduate, recently had the chance of a lifetime when he attended a training course with Cesar Millan, known for his “Dog Whisperer” TV show. “My wife Amanda, my dog and I drove from Bloomington all the way to Santa Clarita, Calif. The trip was over 4,000 miles (round trip), and it took about two days to reach California.”

The former Milan resident works part time at a doggie daycare and owns The Pack Leader LLC. “I go to clients’ homes and train and educate both the owners and their dogs. I have had clients throughout Indiana, including Anderson, and inquiries from places farther out, like Pennsylvania. I also offer other services, such as dog walking.”

People from the area may also remember the singer as the winner of OA’s talent show, “Batesville’s Got Talent” and Canoefest Idol in Brookville.  

He found out about the course on Millan’s Web site trainingcesarsway.com. “I am constantly studying what Cesar Millan and other trainers like Dr. Ian Dunbar do .... We had to apply and tell a little bit about ourselves and our dogs.

“There were roughly only about 25 people with their dogs and 20 people without that attended the course. There were people from around the world, like Spain, Brazil, Australia, United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada, Norway, Puerto Rico, Austria and even Japan. There were only 20 picked from the U.S.” Millan was assisted by trainers Cheri Lucas and Brian Agnew.

“We started each day with at least a two-mile pack walk .... when one person would walk eight dogs at a time. We would switch people out so everyone got a chance walking the pack.”

The purpose of this was “so the unbalanced dogs could learn from the pack how to correctly behave. It also helped with our leadership skills. It is one thing to control one dog, but it is totally another to control eight dogs at once.”

After those walks, “we were lectured on how to use only our body language to wordlessly communicate to dogs. We also learned how to see and read dog-to-dog conversations. Because so many people misuse the E-collar (which sends an electrical stimulus, vibration or tone), we were trained on how to use it correctly if it was needed,” the 21-year-old reveals.

“During the lectures, Cheri and Brian brought different people up on the stage to address their dogs’ problems. When it was my turn, Cheri said that Axl, my German shepherd, was very well-trained and used him as an example a few other times during the week. He has a little bit of separation anxiety, but other than that, he did very well. The things they stressed were being calm assertive and confident.”

However, he admits, “The best part was when I stayed and waited for Cesar. I was able to have one-on-one time with him for about an hour .... I learned more in-depth about what I need to do to improve myself and my connection with Axl, how to improve my business and so much more.”

Rohrig is thankful to his family (parents Julie and John Rohrig III, Milan; siblings, Daniel, Samantha and Cassidy; grandparents Louise Rohrig, Milan, and John and Joan Mokanyk, Greensburg) and wife for their support. “Without their help, I would not have been able to go. I had to get a loan and still needed help from them. They made it all possible.”

The Vincennes University graduate, who has a behavioral studies degree, points out, “Being able to attend Cesar’s training course not only taught me more about how to connect and train with dogs, but it also enlightened me about how to improve myself and my well-being outside of dog training. It was a very healthy and enriching experience, not only for me, but also for Axl and, hopefully, for any future dogs and people I will be helping.”