Warren Eckstein knows dogs. In fact, he loves talking about all kinds of pets – yes, especially dogs – so much that he’s been doing it on the radio for a long time. In fact, November 8 marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of “The Pet Show,” which is heard locally at KRLA (870 AM) on Saturdays from 6 p.m. 11:00 to 13.00
Eckstein actually does two shows, one for the local KRLA audience and another for a nationally syndicated audience, beginning immediately after the KRLA show at. 13.00. It is four hours a week with talking pets. Let’s just say it’s in his blood.
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Internationally known as a pet and animal expert, he can be considered a pet facilitator. It started at a young age, in large part due to shyness at the time. “I was able to connect more easily to animals than to humans,” he explained, leading to him developing a reputation as a master of animal behavior. Soon he was asked to help with family pets and animals around his hometown on Long Island: “People said that even stray dogs were trained when I was nearby,” he said.
Although he always enjoyed animals, his training expertise came from his observations while working in Europe. “I actually snuck into East Germany in 1969,” he said, doing so to see for himself the techniques they used to train dogs for the military and police. “I got a fake passport to get over the border,” he said.
But it was not a career in the early days. “You’re trying to find a job as an animal psychologist in 1971,” Eckstein said with a laugh. “So I took other jobs, including at a dry cleaner’s.” But he loved the training, so he put an ad in the local Pennysaver that he would “teach your dog Yiddish for $ 15.” It worked… he got some calls.
Eventually, his name started to come around and local vets started recommending him to help clients with their pet problems. What made him different – and so successful – is that he looked at dogs and cats at their level to try to determine what was causing the negative behavior. (This seemed to contradict what he observed in East Germany, and he confirmed that he did not necessarily take the training techniques he saw, but the experience helped him see what worked and what could be done better.)
What developed was a passion that comes through the interview I did with him, as well as his shows, along with the tips and tricks you can read about in his post he does on thepetshow.com. Eckstein not only knows animals, you can see that he also loves and respects them. In fact, his training and behavioral changes focus on love and praise rather than discipline.
“I love animals,” he says. “I love animals, children and families. I want them all to live in harmony, especially in these days when our pets are more than ever full members of our families.”
His show began when he was contacted by Bob Bruno, general manager of WOR / New York, to do a weekend fill-in show one weekend where one of the hosts could not reach it. The audience response was positive and it turned into a weekly two-hour program. By 1995, his show had been syndicated from New York for a number of years, including a special edition he made for KABC. He decided to move to Los Angeles and make the program from here. Now at KRLA, he continues the tradition of doing a separate show for the Los Angeles audience, so I asked him why.
“The audience in Los Angeles is completely different from the rest of the country,” he explained. “It’s a different mood, a different attitude. We take our animals seriously here!”
Has much changed in the 40 years he has been making the show?
“Absolutely,” he said to me. “Today there are so many problems in daily life that did not exist so often in the past. I get calls for divorce, for example, and who should have custody of the family dog. You have heard of children with lock keys? Now have we pets with a lock key, especially since several couples both work outside the home. ” (He recommends placement with the one who would give the dog a better life, especially if one would be able to give the dog more attention).
“Our pets need attention, they need exercise,” Eckstein explains. “You can’t just let them be. They need to go out and be social and active. They need exercise. Often, problems arise in a pet’s behavior because they just need more attention and activity. ”Eckstein has worked with more than 40,000 pets during his career, from celebrities (David Letterman, Cheryl Tiegs, Lily Tomlin and Rodney Dangerfield, to just to name a few) to even some gangsters (they may be vicious, but he says, “They love their animals.”).
He routinely donates to smaller rescue groups – “the smaller ones who have trouble raising funds” – through the Hugs and Kisses Animal Fund, a non-profit organization founded in memory of his wife Fay, who died in 1991.
As a contributor to several television shows such as NBC’s “Today Show” and the former “Live with Regis and Kathy Lee,” Eckstein says he has worked with almost every type of animal. Based on his count, he reckons he has helped over 100,000 pet owners through his radio program over the years.
If you have never heard the program, check it out. Forty years is a long time for any program, and if Eckstein has his will, it will be about another 40.