This week, I went out to lunch with a bunch of people I met in the days when we all volunteered at our local animal shelter a number of years ago. We’ve stayed in touch all these years later because we have something in common: we love animals.
Naturally, the conversation turned to our goofy pets. We discussed their various idiosyncrasies and eccentricities. Soon the conversation moved to a show I’d heard about, but never seen: The Dog Whisperer.
Another friend of mine has been telling me about Cesar for a while, but I never got around to seeing if we could get the show on our satellite TV package. After all this chatter about the show from every dog lover I know, I figured, okay, it’s time to watch.
So we found it on our Tivo listings and began recording it. I was sort of skeptical, since I thought the name was a bit of a rip off of the horse whisperer. But as it turns out, the show is interesting. I agree with some of his ideas, but not all of them.
The thing that has been most interesting is seeing how he deals with not only the dogs, but also their owners. Most of the problem dogs on the show behave badly because their owners don’t treat them like dogs. They use the dog as some type of emotional crutch, which triggers a wide range of reactions and bad behaviors in the dogs.
Cesar is fearless and deals with dogs most of us would not want to be near. Everything from snapping, demon Chihuahuas to nasty, aggressive 150-pound mastiffs. The show is full of disclaimers about how you should not try to deal with this type of aggression without professional help. And for good reason. I would never get near most of these dogs, and I don’t think your pet average owner should either. His solutions for “red zone” dogs are generally not ones that dog owners can handle. Most owners have a healthy fear of growling, snarling dogs. Cesar is utterly fearless and I think it’s unreasonable (not to mention incredibly dangerous) to expect owners to stick their hand anywhere near an aggressive dog.
However, amidst all the doggie mayhem, Cesar is always harping on the fact that dogs need leadership. His methods may be somewhat different than ones I would use, but the general idea is the same one I’ve been saying in my articles for years. Someone needs to be the leader of the pack, and it should be you. The Dog Whisperer shows rather graphically what happens when you aren’t.
It’s good that there is a show that is finally putting a spotlight on the problems people have with dogs. Whether or not you agree with his methods, it has gotten people talking. If people start looking for solutions, instead of just dumping their problem dog at a shelter, that’s a good thing in my book.