'Dog Whisperer' Cesar Millan Opens Up About Depression and How His Dogs Helped Him Cope

Man's best friend can get us through a lot.

More From Personal Stories
20 articles
acupunctures to help hot flashes
I Tried Acupuncture for Hot Flashes
What I Want to Tell My Son About My Drug Addiction
What I Want to Tell My Son About My Heroin Addiction
katie hug weight loss success
How This Exercise-Hating Mom Lost 130 Pounds

We love all our pets, no matter if they're canine, feline, avian, or anything in between. But (apologies in advance, cat people) dogs are arguably the best (we said we apologize!): They love us unconditionally, make great cuddlers, are fiercely loyal and protective, and, as the "dog whisperer" Cesar Millan knows all too well, provide support when we're struggling.

In his new book, Lessons From The Pack: Stories of the Dogs Who Changed My Life, Millan pulls from years of experience as the "dog whisperer" to not only discuss the ways that dogs and people enrich each other's lives, but also to share how his own pups helped him cope with clinical depression.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

In 2012, Millan says he fell into a deep depression from the combination of a divorce and the death of his beloved dog, Daddy. During that hard time, even his "pack sensed [he] was no longer a stable leader," he said in a National Geographic special.

It's always hard to leave my pack for an extended period of time. But I'm excited to be on tour in Europe!

A post shared by Cesar Millan (@cesarsway) on

As the "dog whisperer," Millan often speaks of the importance of showing confidence and leadership to help teach your dog boundaries and authority; however, when he was facing depression, he says he lost that self-confidence and the power to push forward.

"A lot of people have depression, or anxiety, or resentment, or they feel isolated from a family." Millan told Refinery29. "And when you don't know how to deal with things, you can go into being very angry or very sad. Nobody stops you if you don't stop yourself. You can end up on this roller coaster of depression to the point where you find no happiness, joy, or motivation to continue because you feel so absorbed by [the depression]."

Finding the light in the darkness.

A post shared by Cesar Millan (@cesarsway) on

But Milan's dogs were able to give him what he needed in that moment.

"All the great things that people look to find in humans you can find in a dog," Millan said. "I learned to be calm because of the animals. I learned to [be] confident. I learned the importance of trust and of respecting myself."

His book not only chronicles his vulnerabilities, but also how he came back to what he loves most: his family and dogs.

"For me, because I want to help dogs so much, [that's why it's so important to me]," Millan said. "If the human doesn't consider healing his emotions, then the dog can never be happy. So how do we help a dog? The human has to talk about his weakness. By talking, healing begins."

Sending lots of love out into the world today. @juniormillanofficial @alfie_millan

A post shared by Cesar Millan (@cesarsway) on

"I find that speaking about your weaknesses, your downs, your moments that you don't know how to deal with is very helpful to other people," he added. "Especially when I'm in a position where I talk about leadership and confidence, yet I feel vulnerable to situations where I have no control — and I never have that feeling with dogs."

Take care of yourself first, and then your pooch can be happy: lesson learned.

[h/t Refinery29]

More from Dr Oz The Good Life: