Next month, New York turned Californian transplant, Warren Eckstein will reach a significant milestone in his career as Top-Dog Pet Behaviorist, Humorist, and TV and Radio Personality. November will mark 40-years since he launched The Pet Show With Warren Eckstein from Los Angeles radio stations. Warren has a loyal following of 5 million listeners per month. He’s personally trained over 40,000 dogs, and through his radio show, he’s helped over 100,000 pet owners with their pet’s psychological, training, and behavioral questions. Warren’s training advice stands apart from other animal behaviorists with his “Hugs & Kisses” approach that overcomes the all-too-common human-to-pet mi
Warren, what prompted your move from New York to California, specifically LA?
California is a place I made fun of for many years. It was a running joke, “How could anyone live in California?” I’m a New Yorker; everything happens in New York. But my then-Manager, Howard West, an Executive Producer of the Seinfeld show, said it was an opportunity to work more closely with him. My radio show on KABC was in its 14th-year back in 1995, and I would be able to broadcast my Los Angeles show, and my Network show back-to-back. I’m commanding the radio airways every Saturday from 11-3 PST. In LA, I love that my biggest decision every day is what t-shirt to wear. Moving to southern California was the best decision I ever made. Here is home.
What has been your experience living in LA?
LA is an entertainment town, more so than I was accustomed to in New York. I’ve found that, here, there is more emphasis on preserving the environment. Year-round, there are thousands of fundraising opportunities, and I’m very focused on the ones benefiting animals.
Do SoCal pets and their owners differ in any way from those in NY?
SoCal pets & their guardians differ from NY in a few ways. Here they are at the dog park year-round and forming pet-inspired friendships. You see their pets jogging with their owners, or conversely being carried in strollers. You see a lot more pets in cars here, and many cafes with pet menus! New York dogs are sometimes better adjusted than CA dogs. On the streets of NY, there’s the smells of Chinese food delivery, the bike messengers whizzing by, the insane noise levels, jam-packed streets. Those were some of the problems I had to work on with David Letterman’s dogs, Bob & Stanley when they moved from Malibu to Manhattan. It was quite an adjustment for them.
Is Animal your second language?
No, it’s my first.
40- years in radio is a success story! What makes your radio show have such longevity? How does your show stand apart?
Unlike most talk radio shows, my focus is on the listeners & callers. I rarely do interviews, because for 40 years, pet guardians are calling with questions they need answers to. My Show has listeners with four generations of pets. We’ve laughed together and cried together. There is a level of trust the Show has built with my audience – they know I will never endorse a product unless I personally use it for my pets. My reputation is on the line with every Show.
What’s the biggest message you want to send CA pet owners?
It’s important to socialize & educate your pet in a positive manner, making it enjoyable. Also, remember not to micromanage your pet – rather, give them the opportunity to be a dog or cat. For example, when you take your dog for a walk, remember it’s their walk, not yours. Sniffing trees is like Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook for you. To them, sniffing provides them all the information they need.
How have you contributed to, enlightened, or changed the pet “landscape” with pet owners?
I’ve enlightened pet guardians by being on radio, appearing on TV, articles about me & books that I’ve written on pet behavior. I’ve taught people how to better understand, relate & spend time looking at life through their pets’ point of view, rather than their own.
Are there any pet topics exclusive to CA or SoCal?
Obviously earthquakes and fires. Also, CA pets are much apt to be exposed to venomous snakes and other creatures on their hikes.
How do your training techniques differ from other behaviorists or trainers?
Over the years, I developed the Hugs & Kisses™ method of training. I always felt the best way to resolve issues with your pet is to look at it from your pet’s point of view. And I also believed from day one that it’s important to not always micromanage them – let them be a dog or cat.
Talk about your commitment to and success of Hugs & Kisses Animal Fund.
When my first wife, Fay, died, I had promised her that I would realize her dream of creating a nonprofit organization to raise money for the thousands of small animal rescue groups who do the majority of the work in saving the animals, yet are rarely funded. In 1995, the Hugs and Kisses™ Animal Fund was launched as a 501c3. Since then, we have granted Requests for Funding to all 50 states – groups you will never hear of or see on TV – struggling to save animals in tiny towns across the U.S. Without my compassionate listening audience and their generosity, we would not be able to do the lifesaving work of the Animal Fund.