This week we were honored to speak with celebrity trainer and animal behaviorist and host of the Emmy-nominated television series Lucky Dog, Brandon McMillan.
Brandon is an animal trainer and behaviorist who has spent his entire life learning about and working with all types of animals—from household pets to the wildest of untamed beasts.
Born into a family of animal entertainers, McMillan has been training wild animals since he was born. Thanks to his father and uncle who gave him the knowledge and work ethic , McMillan developed an attachment to animals at an early age. He jokes that he’s been “picking up tiger poop” as far back as he can remember, but his early years around the animal performers certainly gave him valuable skills that he uses in his current career as a Los Angeles -based animal trainer.
Since becoming an animal trainer, Brandon has trained lions, bears, tigers, reptiles and even insects for such films as The Hangover, We Bought a Zoo, The Jungle Book II, I Am Sam, Buddy, Soul Plane, Red Dragon and television’s 24, Dharma and Greg, Jackass, Wildboyz and Carnivale, plus hundreds of commercials and ads. Even with no formal training, Brandon has built such expertise with animals that he now teaches others how to train wild animals, priding himself on his blue-collar educational background.
“My school was the school of hard knocks,” he says. “All my educational background is from 100% experience in the field– no books, no classrooms.” When asked if he feels he’s garnered a sixth sense because of all his interactive animal experience, Brandon replies with an emphatic, “No!” He doesn’t see it that way. “I don’t have any special powers, just cut and dry experience. Having a sixth sense won’t save my life if an animal is coming at me, but experience will.”
In his spare time, Brandon brings his vast animal knowledge to the domestic world when he trains dogs at his prestigious canine obedience school the “LA Dog Retreat.” Brandon is well known in Los Angeles for rescuing dogs out of the pound that are just days away from being put to sleep and turn them into movie stars. Many of Hollywood’s A-list celebrities call upon Brandon to help with their out of control pets at home. However, as much as Brandon loves man’s best friend, his wild side and the need for an adrenaline rush always beckon him back to the wild beasts.
“I just need the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up at least once a day,” he admits. “It lets me know that I am alive and living, not just alive. There’s a big difference.”
In our interview which airs this Saturday, March 28th, Brandon shared with us the important role service dogs play in helping families with children who suffer seizures. In the same show we also speak with Karen Shirk, 4 Paws for Ability CEO, who trains and places seizure alert service dogs, and then Tom Penders, father of Becky, whose family received a seizure assistance dog through Magnolia Paws for Compassion.