Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What I Learned From: The Dog Whisperer: Kobe, Banjo, and Kisses

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been checking out Cesar Millan as he tackled some larger issues. Raising dogs from puppies. Dealing with dogs that were, in his estimation, on the verge of killing other dogs.

This week gave us something a little different – a grab bag of doggie problems that weren’t really related. To wit:

Banjo: A former animal vaccine tester, Banjo was afraid of humans and refused to go near anyone. Even his owners.

Kobe: Was blinded in one eye due to a terrible accident with another dog. Hated other dogs ever since, and then got dangerous around people.

Kisses: A teeny little dog that liked to be in control. Also, she liked to tinkle on the floor when a certain friend came by.

Since all of these issues don’t center around a recognizable theme, the lessons to take away from the episode are a little more wide-ranging than usual.

Except, of course, for the always familiar: Calm. Assertive.

But there were a couple of interesting lessons along the way:

Kobe: Kobe’s main issue was acting out against other dogs, which spread to people. To fix this, Cesar had the family practice how to introduce people and other dogs into Kobe’s territory.

This all happened very, very quickly. And the issue seemed to stem much more from the people being cowed by Kobe, than by any real problems with Kobe’s aggression.

Banjo: Due to the fact that Banjo was afraid of humans, Cesar worked on building up Banjo’s confidence. His breed makes him want to hunt for raccoons, so they got some urine and had Banjo look for it. And rather than patting Banjo on the head, he encouraged the owners to touch the underside of his head, lifting the dog’s head up.

Kisses: Kisses was aggressive and easily excited into piddling on the floor. So Kisses’s master had to learn how to discipline the dog, instead of punishing the dog.

Watching “The Dog Whisperer,” I have to admit the thing that I find the most interesting about the show is just how well EVERY dog reacts to Cesar. Though I haven’t seen every episode, without fail the dog who attacks other dogs, or acts aggressive against humans, invariably takes to Cesar like a duck to water.

Whether Cesar really knows what he’s doing, or whether Cesar is just like those moms who can put ANY baby to sleep, no matter how cranky, it’s amazing to watch.

I’d say the big lesson of the show was, as always, Calm/Assertive. Show the dog you’re the leader, and they will follow.

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