Brandon McMillan has trained as many as 10,000 dogs for television, movies, commercials, videos and people. Then he started saving dogs from animal shelters, training them and finding homes for them.
When Litton Entertainment needed a dog trainer who would rescue, train and place 22 dogs in 22 weeks for a show called Lucky Dog, they didn’t have to look far.
On the show, which airs in South Florida at 7 a.m. Sundays on WFOR-CBS 4, McMillan starts each week spending several hours at a shelter, evaluating dogs. That may be the hardest part, especially given that at least 9,000 dogs and cats are euthanized each day because homes can’t be found for them.
“I can only take one out. That means I have to walk by 99 I can’t take. All 100 are very trainable, very place-able and just as smart as the next dog. Often the one I choose just comes down to one I make a connection with,” he says.
McMillan, 36 and single, says the dogs will be proficient in the seven basic commands – sit, stay, down, come, off, heel and no.
“My theory of training is a lot like martial arts. You learn the technique one day and you perfect it for years to come. With the dogs, I teach them technique when I am training them. I teach the family to perfect the technique over the years to come.”
McMillan will choose the family by evaluating emails he receives and checking out the house and yard where the new dog will live. At the end of the show, the dog and family meet, and McMillan spends a couple of hours training the family.
Most of the dogs chosen for the show will be under 5 because that’s what the families have asked for.
Abuse will not be part of their past. McMillan says he can tell which dogs have been abused in the first 30 seconds he spends with them. “And I can tell you how they were abused in the first few minutes,” he says.
Those dogs are a passion for McMillan off-camera, but they will not appear on Lucky Dog. “The viewers that watch this show are not going to want to see a dog that’s been in a fight. This is a family show,” he says.
Lucky Dog is targeted to teens 13 to 16 years old, but McMillan is guessing a lot of moms will be watching.
The show, which debuts this weekend, is followed by another Litton production, Dr. Chris Pet Vet, which follows Australian veterinarian Chris Brown as he treats a wide variety of animals.