She walked into the room quietly and sniffed each person there. Then she scoped out her surroundings, including a bright red bowl with water, before finding a comfortable spot by the door to settle down for a nap.

Cheyenne, a shepherd mix, got high marks for her behavior.

"She did exactly what she was supposed to do," said canine expert Cesar Millan, visiting the District to discuss his new show "The Dog Whisperer."

Millan made no fuss over the canine interaction, simply stating: "She's a well-behaved dog."

Usually the dogs that Millan sees behave badly -- and their owners have called in the "dog whisperer" as a last-ditch effort.

The first season of "The Dog Whisperer" features 26 episodes, and most will show Millan working with two cases. Segments include a timid Great Dane afraid to walk on shiny floors; a Sheltie that barks incessantly when the toaster pops up or a human in the house talks on the telephone; and a black Lab mix that gets aggressive with other dogs when it goes for walks.

Millan is fond of saying that he rehabilitates dogs and trains people. He prefers to speak with owners before he meets the dogs, he said. He evaluates the people to see how they describe their dog's problem and asks how he can help. Then he gets an animal introduction.

"What's good for humans isn't always what's good for dogs," he said.

He stresses the need for dogs to have balance in their lives -- with exercise, discipline and affection, in that order. People tend to humanize dogs, he said, and often emphasize affection, which puts dogs out of balance.

In the United States, "we believe we love dogs very much, but we don't give them what they need." Among the best dog owners, he said, are homeless people because they move around a lot in different neighborhoods -- keeping their dogs active and interested in new environments.

It's also essential to understand that dogs have a pack mentality, and owners need to establish their dominance as the pack leader, he said.

Millan occasionally will take a dog to his center for "Power of the Pack" training, sort of a canine group therapy. But most of the cases in "The Dog Whisperer" take place in the homes of the dog owners.

In the show, "you will see that most of the dogs I work with have no rules, boundaries or limitations -- and that is not good for the dog or the owner," he said.

Millan's interventions usually take only minutes. A really tough case might take two hours. Of the thousands of dogs he has dealt with, there were just two, he said, that he could not help. They had been too abused.

He was born in Mexico and, until he was about 6, lived on a farm where he learned a lot about animals from his father and grandfather. He also watched "Lassie" and "Rin Tin Tin" on TV and decided at age 13 that he wanted to be the best dog trainer in the world.

He moved to California, where he became a dog groomer and began to counsel clients on their pets' behavioral issues. Basically self-taught, he established the Dog Psychology Center in Los Angeles in 1998, where he began to help the canines of the rich and famous. His wife, Illusion, and their two sons, Andre, 9, and Calvin, 5, help him with his work.

Millan, 35, said he has been working with dogs for most of his life and has four of his own.

"I have an instinctive ability to relate to dogs from their point of view," he said, "and the goal is always the same: to achieve the connection between human and dog and to understand what's best for the dog."

Tips for Dealing With Best Friends

Pup pro Cesar Millan offers tips for those who already have dogs as well as for prospective new owners:

* With all dogs (and especially new ones), make sure you set aside time every day to establish rules, boundaries and limits, provide exercise, then give affection to the dog.

* Give the dog something to do before you share food, water, toys or affection. It can be as simple as telling the dog to sit. This way the treat has been earned.

* It is essential to create a schedule that includes a daily 45-minute power walk in the morning.

* When leaving the house, always walk out the door ahead of your dog to demonstrate who is boss.

* During walks, make sure your dog is not pulling you down the street, but instead is at your side or behind you. This will demonstrate to your dog that you are the leader.

And, especially for those considering getting a dog:

* Consider the new responsibilities you will face as a dog owner. What are you willing to do? How much time are you willing to invest?

* Involve the whole family in the experience of bringing a new dog home. Discuss the responsibilities and how to share them before the dog arrives.

* Find a dog that fits your lifestyle. More active breeds, such as hunting and herding dogs, require more physical challenges such as exercise to stay physically and mentally content.

* If you are adopting an older animal, realize that some dogs may have had past experiences that will affect their reactions to children, adults and other animals.

* Be willing to set up a budget for unexpected needs, such as medical bills and training classes.