Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Leader of the Pack Episode Review - Turbo

I knew there was a reason I shouldn't have left last weeks episode so late, it's meant this weeks has come around too quickly!

Anyway, here we are again back in sunny Spain and this time it is Turbo's turn for.. well, we all know.

Turbo is an italian rescue (I think, they weren't so clear on this). He is a black GSD mix, though advertised as a GSD, I suspect some collie and retriever blood too, more collie I'd say.

Turbo was rescued from a bad home where he was kept chained up.... and moved to a rescue where he was kept caged up. We are not told how long it is since he was rescued from his chain, but he now has 'cage aggression'.

We see a fairly long shot of Turbo fence fighting with a bull x type dog at the rescue - it appears to be mainly frustration and excitement and a total lack of self control to me, but he is snapping at the cage bars a bit.

We finally get a vaguely useful screen caption: " Don't approach dogs that are chained, tied or behind fences".

We see Cesar get Turbo out of the car with the rescues representative - he appears very unfamiliar with walking on a leash, particularly a thin slip high up his neck.

Cesars Evaluation:  Turbo is introduced, through a fence (he is in a small pen) to a dog Cesar says is a 'soft energy' dog - removing the woo-woo from this, what he brings out is a black galgo/greyhound type who appears a bit nervous and not particularly interested in approaching the front of the pen where Turbo is pacing about.

The black galgo tries to reverse away and looks more scared the nearer Cesar forces him to get - they swap him for a different dog, this time a Spitz type bitch who is I think called Leeda (thats how it sounds anyway).

She's a lot more confident, first thing she does once off the leash is pee some distance from the pen where  Turbo can see her, then she approaches the pen and sniffs the ground in front of it a lot. Turbo wee's up the side of the pen and calms down quite a lot, presumably having sussed that this is a confident bitch.

Cesar takes Leeda into the pen... at least thats what we are supposed to think but... he does a lot of TSST and leaning over and blocking, jabbing Turbo in the flank and pushing his forearms over Turbos head and neck in a similar way to the way dogs will put their heads over other dogs sometimes.

At this point it actually looks as though Leeda ISN'T in the pen with Turbo and I suspect that this was cut and edited - he has her on a slip lead as he enters but then hes holding her the other side of the gate. I think he drops her lead when he needs to use both hands to dominate Turbo and intimidate him and its quite a long scene where there is no sign of Leeda in the pen... then it cuts and then you see Leeda in the pen. Who knows what happened here really!

Turbo definitely reacts to the TSST and various jabs to the neck and flank as if conditioned anyway.

He takes both dogs and puts a backpack on Turbo. He does at this point state that a dog like Turbo does need a job to do, apparently carrying weight is a job (if its not clear here, I do agree dogs need a job and physical exercise, but actually mental exercise is much more beneficial and useful, Cesar really doesn't recognise mental exercise.)

We see Turbo and Leeda walk, Turbo is very unbalanced when he walks, unfamiliar and wary of the leash. The backpack is unbalanced and this looks quite uncomfortable for Turbo in addition to all the other stress going on.

So far, throughout we have seen Turbo panting a lot, ears back, a lot of very edgy, stressy sort of behaviour.

Meet the Contenders... 

Dal Col family - Mum, Dad, Teenage Son, Teenage daughter Silvia and their two mid sized black retriever/lab/crossbreedy job bitches. It seems the family have come to support Silvia who is the dog trainer , they don't have much involvement otherwise.

Andrea and Rogero - students who are best friends and already have a dog together (really? can't we just say 'we are a couple' mm.) and want another one. They are I think 19 and have lived together 2 years and are at university.

Luca - single man in his 50s. Fab eyebrows.

I give you a prize if you figure out who wins from this brief introduction of the competing potential homes (and if you go back you'll see theres definitely a pattern!)

First Challenge - meet Turbo.

Luca goes first, he has to get Turbos trust and take him into Cesars pack (!! really... ok then..)

Turbo is lying down, open mouth, ears all flicky and LOTS of lip licking when Luca enters. Cesar asks him to evaluate Turbos body language and Luca says that his tail is not angry. Ok then (fair enough, it isn't. Turbo seems to be sat on his tail at this point though.)

Turbo rapidly decides Luca is safe to approach and does so, soliciting attention and physical contact, which he gets.

Cesar tells Luca off when he allows Turbo to jump up (I say 'jump', it wasn't a jump it was much more of a creep/sneak/snuggle than a jump!), NOT because dogs jumping up is rude and bad manners, no - because you should not give away affection for free, being invited into your personal space is a gift you give to the dog and you shouldn't give it immediately. Ie, don't be a cheap slut. Mmm.

The fact that Turbo got affectionate and comfortable with Luca immediately means that Turbo feels he is in charge. Ok then.

Next we see Turbo on a slip lead in front of a small pen (the swimming pool pen, there is a two-dog-wide track around a smallish concrete dog paddling pool, so theres not much space here at all) which contains some of Cesars pack - including Junior, two greyhound/galgo types and a small wirey terrier job.

Turbo is quite agitated, and we see him clearly solicit some reassurance and comfort from Luca - Cesar immediately disallows this and takes Turbo from Luca and gives him some corrections with the leash, his hands and his TSST sound.

Again, its damn obvious here this is not the first time that Turbo has been in such a situation, I would say he has met and been presented with the pack and TSST'ed, jabbed etc on many occasions previously.

Turbo is basically shoved in through the door in front of Luca and Cesar, and the pack proceed to mug him, chasing him round the pool.

At this point Cesar chuffles on about how Turbo SHOULD stand still and submit and allow the pack to sniff him and the fact he keeps moving is wrong.

Something kicks off between Turbo and Junior, I think Turbo was cornered and lashed out - Cesar shouts HEY and TSST at them and whatever it was it all stops.

Cesar lets them all out into the big paddock and things are much better here with some space, Turbo looks a lot happier.

Next we meet the Dal Col family, mainly Silvia. It is unfortunate that Silvia comes across more confident and older  than she really is, she is 15 I think - her spoken English is also not brilliant which doesn't help and she comes over a bit 'stiff'. I make this point because I think how Cesar treats her is fucking unforgivable. The cunt. No I won't apologise for that.

The clip of the family at home reveals that Silvia is a clicker trainer - the screen caption has to put clicker in inverted commas... ' Silvia uses a 'clicker' to train her dogs' and then ' 'Clicker Training' is a method that uses a noisemaker and a reward to reinforce behaviour'...

I thought perhaps I was being a bit picky here but .. no.

So we go back to Cesars big paddock and meet Silvia and Cesar asks her about clicker training, in the same way you might say to someone 'So, you wear an octopus on your head and dance nearly naked, with just a thong crafted from bacon, whilst singing show tunes, and then you dine on the flesh of freshly slaughtered Unicorn. Ok then. *backing away slowly*.

It is quite clear as Silvia demonstrates clicker training that Cesar is unimpressed, which is shitty to do to a kid.

She is now meant to take her two bitches in to meet Turbo - she very sensibly aproaches the pen slowly and allows her girls to take their time. They are not massively bothered by Turbo, though I think they are also hot and knackered.

Cesar helpfully tells us that our dogs will tell us about the energy and temperament of other dogs - which can be true, but he completely omits anything about how not all dogs are an accurate judge of others, our dogs may be telling us more about how THEY are feeling, etc etc.

Silvia attempts to take her girls in but Cesar suddenly decides shes doing it wrong - I cannot see what his problem was here at all personally, I thought Silvia was doing fine. He goes in first and does a lot of TSST and neck jabbing so that Turbo will back up and let him in. Turbo is now ears back and stressy panting.

Cesar tells us that we must claim space and dominate Turbo to demonstrate that we love him.

When he then lets Silvia take her girls in, all the dogs ignore one another, probably because its a small space, they are hot and Turbo is worried about moving in case he gets TSSTED and prodded again.

Cesar tells Silvia she can let them all out and she does so, her girls come running out...... and Turbo is terrified to cross the gateway, even with no one stood there, as a direct result of Cesars bullying in my opinion. He hovers at the gate way, wanting to come out, pacing, before finally making a break for it.

He plays with the girls a bit, rather rough jumpy games but the longer coated girl can handle him.

Finally, it is Rogero and Andreas turn, with their black lab boy, Black.

They introduce Black through the fence and Turbo and Black go nuts at one another, snarling, snapping, at one point Turbo is biting at the fence trying to get to him.

Cesar takes Blacks leash, turns it into a slip leash high up Blacks neck and starts correcting him - at one point one of the boys tries to reassure Black that it is ok and Cesar tells him off for it, this is shortly after Cesar gives Black a correction that makes him make a choking sound! They should not give him affection, it is nurturing his behaviour.

I think that what we don't see, is the boys telling Cesar that Black does have some dog to dog issues, it is mentioned but only briefly and I think it is more serious than anyone actually says on the show.

When one boy takes Black into the run with Turbo, Turbo just avoids - the boy keeps Black slightly behind him on a short leash. The second boy goes in with Black though and he allows him to pull in front and go nose to nose with Turbo, which Cesar is far too slow to stop and so one or other of them snaps and I think Black gets his front legs bitten, there is certainly a yelp as if he has been bitten.

Cesar immediately takes over and walks Turbo down, staring at him menacingly, standing over him, pushing him into the far corner with Black on a short leash behind him - Cesar tells us he is 'erasing the memory of what happened before'... WOW what a skill! A superpower almost!

He makes whichever of the two boys who messed up first time repeat this with Black and that ends the challenge. There is no off lead in the big pen with Black and Turbo.

Somewhat predictably, Rogero and Andreas are out.

Final Challenge:

Luca and Cesar take Turbo and Junior out hiking, both dogs wearing backpacks. This isn't really much of a challenge to be honest. Cesar demonstrates how to use a long line correctly, in response to Luca asking if Turbo can go off leash yet.

Cesar's opinion is that Luca is too soft and doesn't have great leadership skills really, but the dog does clearly like Luca.

There is some waffle about why making them wear backpacks is good, both Luca and Junior look knackered in the boiling sunshine.

At one point, Cesar ties Turbo by a thin slip leash, to Junior, which neither dog looks over the moon about, and suggests this is a good way to teach dogs to walk off leash, using a dog who already knows a recall. It is a method I have seen - traditionally hounds are coupled young hound to old hand, but they use collars with swivel chain fitments, not a thin slip leash.

Next is Silvia.

She explains the clicker training nicely, her challenge appears to be to demonstrate this to Cesar and this is where I think he was really unfair.

He asks her to demonstrate some agility off leash in the huge paddock - bear in mind the people only get a couple of days here and it is VERY hot, her dogs are middle aged and black. She is visibly nervous and of course, when she lets her agility dog off leash, her dog doesn't want to play. She can clearly sense that her mum is uptight and nervous, shes in an unfamiliar environment and shes far too hot, so she heads for some shade and ignores Silvias cues.

In my opinion, Cesar set Silvia up for failure here in a MASSIVE way. He leaves her calling her dog for ages, watching her get wound up and stressed (bear in mind, this is a kid!) - a fair person would have amended the task slightly but in my opinion, Cesar wanted to show up positive training and make out that its not effective.

There was some mention of staying calm, but absolutely NO mention of making sure that what you are asking is fair from the dogs point of view. She does get her dog to jump over a jump in the end, but it is very clear that this dog is hot and tired and worried.

Cesar also asks to see Silvias family handling the dogs - this again is unfair, it is Silvia who wants the dog and her existing two dogs are clearly well trained, well mannered and well looked after. Her family obviously support her in what shes doing, so the fact that all three of them are a bit rubbish at handling the dogs is not particularly relevant - they clearly DO listen to Silvia on how to do things, they just don't practice it often as they are Silvias dogs.

In the end, Luca wins. Luca seems like a nice guy, and in the 3 weeks later shot, Turbo is getting lots of affection (er possibly too much but he seems to be tolerating having his face hugged a lot quite well), lots of off lead exercise - there isn't a slip leash or a TSST or a jab in sight and he does look like a happy dog.

It has become pretty clear to me that you can pick out who will win each episode just by figuring out what Cesars prejudices are.

This episode, there was no way the two boys would win. This is not the normal set up, this is not the 'ideal family' in Cesars mind thus, they won't win.

Now, I don't disagree that they were not suitable to own Turbo - very clearly Black and Turbo would have fought, but I am positive that Cesar knew that before they started filming.

Silvia was never going to win as a positive trainer, and also as a girl who knew more than anyone else in the family and was the 'leader' of her family...

In previous episodes he has gone off people because their family unit doesn't fit his ideal, because the woman has been the bossy one...

His reasons for Silvia not winning this episode were that Turbo being added to the existing 'pack' would upset the dynamic... but these two bitches handled Turbo fine and he was much calmer with them than anyone else. Cesar also talked a lot about how Turbo needed other dogs to teach him boundaries and how to be a dog. He has rehomed dogs to homes with other dogs - Jet in the first episode went to live with four or five other dogs - would that not upset the group dynamic??

Maybe it is me being super picky, but I have correctly identified the winner before the end of the first challenge in every episode so far!



Saturday, 25 May 2013

Fear - how to safely and kindly, fix fear problems!

So, the last few reviews of Cesar Milan's Leader of the Pack have involved fearful dogs, and some dangerous techniques coupled with misleading and false snippets of advice, either in the voice over or screen captions.

I'll take a look at some of those statements and go through why those are wrong and what you should really do.

"Never praise or reward a dog who is behaving fearfully, nervously or is displaying anxiety".

The idea behind this statement, is that you could then reward the dog for this behaviour, which would increase the frequency of the behaviour.

But, fear is an emotion - you can't increase the frequency of displays of fearful behaviour, by giving positive reinforcements, because those behaviours are caused by the underlying emotion. That isn't how it works.

You COULD reinforce fear by adding more scary things - if a dog is frightened of a person and then that person shouts or hits or kicks the dog - that would increase the dogs fear of people.

That is pretty obvious - but this ones less so. If your dog is really scared, and then YOU behave all anxious and tense and edgy you transmit that in your body language and in your voice, then even if your words are 'there there its ok doggy' you could still be reinforcing the fear, because you are adding MORE fear.

Your dog sees you as a secure person to be around, they take some confidence from you, so in the above example, if YOU are acting fearfully, the dog will find that upsetting and this will increase his own anxiety.

It isn't because you attempt to comfort him though, it wouldn't matter what you said or even if you said nothing - its your body language and behaviour he is picking up on.

There are of course times when you would not want to approach a dog to give them a reward or physically touch them to praise them - thats when YOU are the object of their fear. In a situation like that, regardless of your intentions, approaching a fearful dog is dangerous and liable to get you bitten - even if the dog doesn't bite you, you have probably increased his fear, not decreased it by pushing him too far.

"Cesar deliberately confront's [the dogs] fears to build trust"

This is not just wrong, this is dangerous. The idea is to carry on doing something the dog finds frightening until the dog realises it is wrong, and the situation is actually not frightening.

That isn't what actually happens though - what happens is, IF the person involved does not get seriously bitten, the dog realises there is no point objecting or trying to get away, so he shuts down. He exhibits a state called 'learned helplessness' which is when an animal has learned that nothing they can do will stop the scary thing happening, so they stop trying.

It does not mean they are no longer frightened, and it does not mean they are relaxed or happy with what is going on - they have just stopped trying to stop it or avoid it.

When this happens with dogs, they effectively learn to fear the person who did this, more than whatever it was they were initially scared of. When  you then get a new person to introduce the scary thing, they are likely to react and most likely to react much more violently than before.

In dog terms, the most common example is that a parent or some adult, causes a dog to shut down over some issue, lets say its being brushed.

They then believe because the dog is now not objecting, that the dog is ok to be brushed, and they won't find out differently until someone new tries it. So when their 5 year old picks up the brush one day, the dog errupts, he has NOT learned to fear the CHILD more than the brush, so he reacts and the end result is highly likely to be a badly bitten and frightened child and a euthanised dog.

It IS true that to desensitize a dog to something they are scared of, they will HAVE to be exposed to that thing, but HOW we go about that is very different from the way Cesar suggests.

"Exposing a dog repeatedly to the object he fears can teach him that there is no threat"

As above, this depends on HOW you go about that exposure. Cesar uses flooding, which is continued, confrontational and deeply stressful exposure that results in the dog shutting down. The dog doesn't learn that the object is not a threat, he learns that the person is a bigger threat!

So how do we deal with fear then?

The trick to dealing with fear is understanding stress, and 'safe thresholds'.

Stress is quick to build up, and slow to dissipate - so don't expect to be able to build steady progress day by day. Instead aim for a two steps forwards, one step back approach where you are continually assessing the stress involved and backing off the pressure to let your dog truly relax and unwind.

Your dogs safe threshold is the distance at which he can see something he recognises as scary, but doesn't feel the need to react yet.

These thresholds change as you progress, but to begin with you want the dog to feel as safe as possible.

Lets say your dog is terrified of horses. If he is 10 ft from a horse he barks and lunges and if you try to pull him back on the leash he turns and bites the leash and your leg. He doesn't listen to you and you could wave a roast chicken under his nose, he wouldn't notice.

That is because at 10ft, this dog is massively over threshold, he cannot cope at this distance, he is so far gone it isn't that he doesn't want to listen to you, its that he physically CANNOT listen to you. Nor can he perceive that roast chicken as a reward.

At 30ft away your dog stares at the horse, he doesn't bark or lunge but he still can't listen to you. You can pull him back on the leash and he won't turn and bite it or bite your leg, but he is still ignoring the roast chicken.
At this point, he is still over threshold but not to the point where it is causing a severe reaction. This distance is too close for you to teach him anything good though.

At 45ft away, your dog can see the horse, but he can listen to you a little. He is flicking his attention between you and the horse and he can take a small piece of chicken and eat it. He isn't capable of complying with cues such as sit or down, but if you say his name he will look at you briefly.
This distance is the very edge of his safe threshold, he isn't ready to work at this distance just yet but he might be soon.

At 55ft away, he can still see the horse, but now he can listen to you if you ask him to sit, he is very keen on the chicken and his attention is much more on you and the reward, with occasional glances in the direction of the horse that tell you he is aware of its presence, but he is not too bothered as long as it gets no nearer.

THIS is the distance where you would start to desensitize and counter condition - THIS is the level of exposure that is safe and you can work with.

So you ensure that you never get nearer than this during this stage of training.
You make sure that the horse isn't going to get any nearer (control of the environment - if you don't have it, just avoid the situation, turn around and walk away!).

Now you can mark and reward his looks at the horse, that's all you need do. Horse = pieces of yummy chicken.

What you are looking for now is, over a number of sessions (and not every day please, let those stress levels drop between sessions), his attitude changes, his body relaxes, he can give you his attention for longer periods of time. When he initially sees the horse he should look happier, ask you where the yummies are etc.

When you reliably have that result, ideally in a number of locations, over the course of a few weeks, THEN you can consider reducing the distance slightly.

If you find you get a reaction, or he is obviously uncomfortable, increase the distance  - it is key here that you work at the DOGS pace, not any pace you decided you should achieve this at. HE decides when he is comfortable with this scary thing, not you.

By working like this, you can eventually change the dogs emotional reaction to the sight of something he previously considered scary. It works because you classically condition him to associate the sight of something, with a tasty reward (you could also use high value toys here if your dog likes those better).

Depending on the trigger, you may have to work through several other stages - for example, horses move - he could be ok with a horse stood still, or a horse in a stable, but still find a horse moving or a horse being ridden a scary thing. So desensitize those things in the same way.

If your dog is fearful of being brushed, you might start out with rewarding him for seeing a brush on the floor on the other side of the room, and gradually work your way up via brush in your hand, brush touching his chest, right the way to brush touching the most sensitive part of his body.

No part of behaviour modification or training should involve a dog being scared or being bullied into using his teeth to protect himself. A good behaviourist or trainer can read a dogs behaviour and has absolutely NO need to push them any further.

I can see that a dog is food aggressive within 10 seconds of that dog being given a bowl of food - why would I need to push that dog into actually biting, what more would I learn??

Leader of the Pack -Brigadier - episode review (for those not wanting to watch it!)

OMG ... buckle yourselves in and don the flame proof security wear provided...

Brigadier is another stray from Italy. He is scared of people, and when I say scared, this guy is SHIT scared, hes terrified. In the first shots, he is cowering in his kennel, staff have to force him out, he hits the deck when on the lead and if picked up he snarls and air snaps.

This is a dog who does NOT trust people, he does NOT want to be made to go anywhere and he does NOT want physical contact.

His rigid body language, head turned away, lip curls, ears scraped back and whale eyes all say 'I do not like this, don't do it', but its important to note here, Brigadier is also careful NOT to make contact with people. His bites are not 'near misses', these are air snaps and snarls never intended to do physical harm.

Once at Cesars centre, Brigadier shows he is really scared and doesn't want to get out of the crate in the back of the car. Cesar gets into the rear passenger seat area so that B has no choice but to get out, to get away from him.

They take B to a shaded area where they sit on a wall and B has no choice but to be near Cesar, held on a short slip leash. Cesar talks some waffle about controlling the dogs mouth so he can't bite, and then picks him up and puts him on the wall. B at this point is pretty rigid and totally tense.

Cesar now explains very accurately, that Brigadier is very fearful and tense, and that the leash will also mean he feels trapped which will heighten his fear. He then goes on to say more about dealing with B's mouth and gets a dog brush out, and tries to brush B.

This is ok for a few strokes on B's body, but once he gets to his head its very clear B is very unhappy about it.

Next he takes Brigadier to meet his pack - we see a shot of  B stood outside the pen that Cesar's pack are running in. B is tense, corners of his mouth pulled back into that rigid fearful 'smile' type pant, ears back - Cesar declares him relaxed as the pack all bark at him through the fence, and so brushes him again, using B's shut down state to allow this to happen.

He is then pushed into the pack who all crowd around him

In with the pack, B is really shut down and fearful, CM says he is being respectful and submissive and that the pack is teaching him to respect them - in fact the situation is simply that B would have to be a monumentally stupid animal to start anything aggressive or confrontational or even defensive, in such a situation.

The next stage is that Cesar takes B through to a large outdoor pool, with the pack still around him.

At this point, we see B at the edge of the pool, in the water, with one front paw raised up, ears back, face tight and eyes pretty worried.
The voice over now tells us " Cesar deliberately confronts Brigadiers fears to build trust" and the caption onscreen tells us:

"Cesars Tips: To desensitize a fearful animal distract them with an activity and then present the object that he is afraid of."

Cesar does just this, whilst B is terrified of the pool and the other dogs around him, Cesar subjects him yet again to being brushed around his head and ears as well as down his back, and also to being physically handled and lifted. Cesar mentions that distracting a dog like this is called redirection.

Cesar tells us before we meet the potential adopters, that he is doing evaluation and rehabilitition at the same time: evaluate, rehabilitate, evaluate, rehabilitate...  It is clear he believes he has rehabilitated Brigadier over being touched with the brush...

Now we meet the three potential families.

They are, Janne and Sofie, mother and daughter living in Italy with their three dogs; Massimo and Ursula, an Italian and German couple with two salukis, living in Italy, and Karin and Renato, a New Yorker and an Italian, living in Italy.

The first challenge:

Janne and Sofie go in to meet Brigadier in his pen, they take their three dogs in with them. B is interested in the dogs but wary of the humans, notably more so when Cesar is near (uncomfortably flicking his eyes at him and then away).
Cesar tells them not to try to touch him, he says 'no touch, no talk, no eye contact' - as far as this goes, its fine and a good idea but its not going to do anything to get Brigadier to actively like them.

He seems interested in their dogs but is doing a lot of intense sniffing of the ground, and at one point B is between the people who are squatting on the ground and one of their own dogs comes over which causes some growling (Cesar says its B but I don't think it was, I t hink their dog started to growl and B reacted) - B reacts with a quick grr and snap which makes the people jump but theres no real issue between the dogs. We later see B lying down with another of this families dogs lying next to him.

Next, Massimo and Ursula come to meet B, with their Salukis. The male Saluki is not fond of strangers and they admit, will snap if strangers attempt to touch him so Cesar decides they know what they are doing with a nervous dog.

They send the nervous male into the pen with B first, and he takes one look and asks very plainly to come out again, so Massimo goes in with him and walks around with his own dog and then B following.
Then they send in the Saluki bitch and here we see Brigadier really light up, he loves this lady (well he is entire ,and so is she judging by his chattering teeth and ridiculous expression). They leap about like idiots because she wants to play but doesn't actually want him near her lady-parts, and hes just acting the fool. No real progress is made with human contact here though!

Finally Renato and Karin come in, now they have no dogs to help them so Cesar has Karin walk around not giving B eye contact (which she fails at a bit and she looks nervous).

Her approach worries B so he moves away and when Cesar approaches with a lead, B immediately becomes  much more anxious and moves away again.

Next we see Karin crouched down next to B who is sitting and staring into space, she nervously attempts to get the lead over his head and the tension increases until, fairly predictably, he snaps at the leash, now just making contact with it.

Next Renato puts the leash on, he does it a little quicker so we just see B giving him a stiff posture and very flicky, worried eyes. They walk him away and he is wide mouthed, panting and again giving very quick sideways looks at the person on the end of the leash then looking away. Very stressed.

Cesar kicks Janne and Sofie out at this stage.

Final challenges:

B is in the back of a car, and first Massimo and Ursula come over, with their dogs and the boot is opened. B is loose in the large bootspace and CM states that they have to address his mouth and that this will defeat Brigadiers fear.
With B now trapped in the corner of the boot and trying to hide, really stiff, Cesar starts poking and trying to brush his head. B moves his head away and then snaps and snarls at the brush.

Cesar carries on forcing the issue, telling B to 'shh' as he carries on brushing and B carries on snapping and snarling.

This whole section is horrific. The screen caption comes up:

"Cesars Tip: Exposing a dog repeatedly to the object he fears can teach him there is no threat."

B stops snapping and turns his head away into the corner, still growling but avoiding eye contact. Cesar states that 'he is more scared than aggressive' and also says 'he is reacting to the energy, not so  much the brush".

He continues to force Brigadier to tolerate the brush and then we cut to B lying down facing out of the car, very very stiff and still. He passes the leash over to Massimo and then we see just how tense B is as he jumps and flinches suddenly as the tension on the slip leash changes slightly.

Massimo tries to brush Brigadiers head and he turns his head away again, Cesar uses the leash to force his head back round and B is so stiff and tense that predictably, he snaps and snarls again. Massimo is told to keep brushing B's head and mouth, B keeps snapping and snarling, and finally he intentionally makes contact with the brush, knocking it out of Massimos hand.

Lets just recap here for a second - this dog initially was very careful and very reluctant to make contact. Now he is making contact - the fact that it is with a brush is not relevant here - if they had been using hands, he would now be damaging skin, the reason Cesar is using the brush IS to protect peoples hands but still allow them to push this dog further and further into aggressive action. Cesar does not actually point this out though and because B is biting the brush, he makes it look safer than it really is.

At this point, Cesar takes the brush and starts to brush B's head, pulling hard on the leash and TSSSTing him, intentionally pulling him closer and closer to the people. Cesar makes a point of saying he is pulling B closer to him to demonstrate that he is not scared of him.

Then Ursula has a little go and quickly Cesar decides B is relaxed - he isn't at all, he is shut down.

Then Cesar says they must reward this good behaviour by taking him out of the car for a walk with their salukis, which probably is a reward of sorts as B does like the Saluki bitch.

Next, Karin and Renato perform the SAME BLOODY TEST...

Brigadier is again subjected to being trapped in the boot of the car, even before the people approach you can see he is cowering in the back, taking himself as far away as possible and he is visibly shaking now.

There is a closer shot as Karin climbs into the car, showing B shaking and stiff, making slight faces showing his teeth. Cesar insists she brushes his face and when he snarls and tries to snap she is told to put the brush IN his mouth. She often holds his head in position by using the end of the brush as a prod.

The same battle as before ensues, with the dog being taunted prodded and stroked with the brush whilst he growls, snarls and bites the brush. There is now no attempt to avoid contact, he just bites the shit out of that brush.

At the end of this session, B is panting and cowering in the back of the car which you can see in the shot as Cesar leads the people away, laughing and congratulating them on how well they did. No walk for B this time.. apparently he doesn't need rewarding this time?

Karin and Renato win the dog - the three weeks later shot shows that he is still not hugely keen on being brushed and they have addressed this with massage. They don't say so, but in the clip they use food treats to get him to accept being brushed and at this point he does look happier.

I think this episode was potentially one of the worst, with viewers constantly being advised by Cesar, by the narrative and by the on screen clips, to confront fearful dogs, to expose them repeatedly to things they fear. This is NEVER how desensitization should be attempted, the only way this approach would 'work' was if the dog suppressed his fear, which leads to an animal that is much less predictable, and much much more dangerous.

Brigadier looked hugely stressed all the way through and the final challenge had in my opinion absolutely NOTHING to do with curing his problem, and everything to do with forcing the people to see what Brigadier could be like, and whether they'd be scared of it.

The final challenge was SO risky, it was absolutely the wrong way to address a fear problem and could very easily have resulted in someone being badly bitten. HAD his new owners continued down that route I do not doubt they would have been bitten, and its pretty evident that they did not do this but chose to use food rewards and massage instead. Lucky for them!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

A Little Ray of Sunshine....

It's too easy to get ranty and a bit negative about all the wrong that is done to dogs or in the name of dog training/behaviour, so today's blog is about something nice :o)

I am going to try really hard to balance this blog with dollops of niceness, so, todays 'little ray of sunshine' and I hope he won't mind me calling him little.. is Nando Brown, and in particular, his weekly radio show on

Nando, and the very lovely Donna, run In The Doghouse DTC in sunny Spain

Nando is a huge supporter of positive reward based and force free training, and talks about this on his weekly radio show (tune in here for those of us not living in Spain - Sundays 6pm UK time or you can listen to the podcasts found on the In The Doghouse website.)

Each show involves interviews with two or three people involved in some aspect of the dog training, dog behaviour industry, and I think it is really excellent to hear people talk about their particular topic or area of work.

All too often we see names on books or on websites and blogs, but we don't get to know the person behind that name - Nando's interviews change that, and in doing so, gives us all a chance to realise that no matter how big the name (or how small!), we've all got some great ideas, some interesting ways of looking at things and valid points to make.

For me this is a huge part of why I love the positive, force free training 'world' - we really are a group of people able to talk to one another, exchange views and ideas and grow, and become better dog behaviourists, trainers, whatevers, for it.

I strongly believe that not only are none of us above question or 'too good' to answer queries or explain why we do what we do, but we should all ASK questions, and never be afraid to do so.

As the old adverts said - its good to talk, so do tune into Nando's show or catch up on the podcasts!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Leader of the Pack, episode 6? Sophia the Fearful

Welcome back peeps for this weeks review of Leader of the Pack..

This weeks was very wishy-washy, a couple of 'EEK' moments and Cesar talking utter rubbish.

Sophia is a black and tan mixed breed from Friends of Fido Shelter, Bracciano - an organisation I cannot find any info on with a quick google, but, according to their representative on the show, houses 500, yes FIVE HUNDRED dogs... woo!

Sophia is VERY fearful, she's 'hiding at the back of the kennel, flopping over and being dragged on the lead' fearful.

According to the shelter, shes 'frightened of everything and anything'.

The voice over man tells us happily that Cesar is going to 'force her out of her shell'. Oh goody!

When Sophia is let off lead in a big paddock she gets as far from the people as possible, but shes clearly very stressed - Cesar asks if there is something wrong with her back legs, but I suspect it is just the tension she is constantly under.

She looks to me like a vaguely collie/ shepherd mixed breed, shes very thin and has next to no muscle tone which, in conjunction with being very tense does make her move weirdly. They think she is somewhere between 2 and 3 years old but don't really know.

Cesar makes his first mention about NEVER praising or comforting a dog when they are exhibiting 'negative behaviour' - in this context, he means nervous, anxious or fearful.

He will go on to repeat this bullshit a few times during this weeks show, insisting that if you reward such behaviour you will encourage it.

Cesar really does need to learn something about canine behaviour and psychology - you CANNOT reward an emotion like this - that isn't how it works.

Sure, behaving very hysterical and going overboard squealing and grabbing at a nervous dog is going to make the problem worse but not because the behaviour is rewarded, its because YOU would then be ADDING to the anxiety by acting in a way that freaks the dog out.

Amusingly at one point there is a clip of Sophia meeting Junior (really nicely, yet I thought Sophia was scared of dogs as well as people.. she isn't, shes great with other dogs) - Cesar opens a gate for everyone to go through and Junior barges through first - thought that wasn't allowed hmm?

So, lets meet the three families who want to take on Sophia.

First theres Italian student nurse and her boyfriend, Army Geek.

They have an ancient old Pomeranian x Poodle who has little training, called Aron.

Then there is family of four from Italy who have two silent small children and two dogs, puppy Lily and ancient westie who they didn't bring.

Finally there is the older couple, Italian wife and English husband. She is bossy,  he loves cats, particularly his current cat.

Challenge one - meet Sophia.

Older couple go first, and they enter Sophias' pen - despite having explained that Sophia is really  nervous, Peter traps her in a corner and gets down on his hands and knees in front of her, putting his face RIGHT in her face. He is so close he is almost touching and she HAS to turn her head away as there isn't actually room for her head to face forwards without her nose being in his mouth!

Even Cesar explains that he would not take this approach and that it is risky, though he does not state why, and he does not stop Peter doing this at all.

This is for anyone who doesn't know, INCREDIBLY dangerous - even though Sophia has never displayed any willingness to use aggression to keep people away from her, she is VERY scared. She turns her head away as far as she can, at one point her head is practically on back to front in an attempt to get away from this overbearing approach.

She lip licks, turns away, closes her eyes, shes, if you will excuse my language, fucking terrified and at no point does anyone stop him. Cesar actually praises this guys compassion? What compassion is there in this situation, the guy is genuinely clueless, putting FAR too much pressure on the dog, risking getting himself bitten and increasing her fear and Cesar does nothing to stop it, despite the fact he clearly recognises that this is a risky situation!

Peter gets a lead over her neck and stands up and Sophia follows him, not exactly happily but clearly relieved he is not in her face any more. He doesn't walk her well though, shes really stressed and looking around wildly, panting hard and getting tangled in peoples legs.

Cesar says this is because Peter is scared of giving her direction and he demonstrates that keeping her on a tighter lead will help (it doesn't particularly but now she hasn't the space to get tangled in peoples legs). Sophia looks pretty wildly confused and worried the whole time.

Next up its the Family of Four with their puppy cocker spaniel Lily.

They let Lily off lead and Sophia is interested in the puppy though not wildly excited. They try to get Sophias attention with food but they do far too much leaning forward desperately trying to offer her the food and she finds their attention too much and backs away.

Cesar correctly demonstrates that they should back off a bit and Sophia comes over, but then he spoils that by saying they should NOT give food when shes just a bit interested, they should wind her up and create more desire by withholding the food.

Finally the young couple with the old Pom x meet Sophia. They balls things up by letting Sophia escape her small pen into the big paddock. Their dog Aron has a pop at Sophia which Cesar explains is just him giving Sophia boundaries.

Sophia takes it well (well she backs off and looks baffled). Cesar has some doubts about these two as Aron pays next to no attention to them once off lead and very little when on it!

End of challenge 1 - Cesar sends the Family of Four home saying they don't have the skills for Sophia, she needs too much work.

Challenge 2 - now theres just two families left, the challenge is to see how each family handles Sophia in a busy place.

This had me yelling at the screen because again, Cesar was chuffling on about how it was necessary to force Sophia to face her fears. In fact the voice over states that Sophia needs to be forced to address her fears!

Each remaining couple then has to walk Sophia through a busy street where Cesar has set up people to bounce footballs behind her, skate board and cycle past her quickly and then they sit at a table whilst a waiter brings drinks.

All throughout this Cesar goes on and on again about how they must NOT reward her nervous behaviour or they will make it worse. At one point Peter queries this stating he would have done the opposite, his instinct would be to give her rewards to show her its actually ok (you should listen to your instincts more Peter!).

Sophia is horribly stressed, kept on a short lead and again, wildly looking around, trying to barge forwards or duck behind.

Cesar wants them to stop her looking at things behind or to the sides so advises a short leash and a quick walk. At the restaurant, he advises they tie the lead to the chair so they are no longer transmitting energy down the lead.

He also tries to state that there is a difference between fearful and timid, but doesn't really clarify this and says that Sophia isn't fearful as she doesn't attempt to hide under the table (she can't the lead is too short, tied to the chair!).

In the end, the young couple win, despite Cesars reservations about their older dog having no real manners. He does talk some utter crap about how Sophia likes him, particularly as Aron is entire and this will make Sophia feel WANTED (in a sexual way, presumably!)...

In the mid-show discussion with the rescue representative, she expresses some concerns over the young couple, they ARE young but more importantly and no one mentions this, shes a student nurse and he is an army IT specialist - what are the chances these two will remain settled and in the same place for long and do they have time for another dog? That isn't addressed though.

In the follow up clip, Sophia does look a lot more settled with the people but is fairly predictably, still very difficult to walk (which they state) and the footage shows her still wildly confused and wary about the big wide world outside her home and garden.

All in all, not the worst show, but OMG, the footage of Peter getting his face up in Sophias face whilst shes trapped in a corner - no warnings about how dangerous this is, no information about how doing this could SO easily end up with a person being badly bitten in the face at all! Just Cesar saying how compassionate the guy is! Grr!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Worlds Best Guide to Getting a Dog...

Please, pass this round to anyone who wants to get a dog...

So - you want a dog.

You may think that buying a dog is a bit like popping to Argos to pick up a new floor rug, or nipping round to Sainsbury's or Asda and doing the weekly shopping.

Of course, you can't get a dog at those places, but what I mean by that is, you may think buying a dog is as easy as picking something up from one of those stores.

You probably KNOW someone who wanted a dog and then got one that very weekend, or maybe the weekend after, and it was really easy.

It really isn't and it shouldn't be, that easy - because here's the secret stuff you DON'T KNOW...

Fit for Purpose...

 Would you go and buy a TV that only displayed half the screen, the other half just fuzz?

Would you buy a car that would only do 30 mph and broke down all the time?

Would you buy a washing machine that shredded all your clothes, or a freezer that didn't freeze things reliably?

NO! You wouldn't, those things would not be 'fit for purpose' - they are not suitable for the job, they do not work properly...

If you DID buy any of those things and found they were faulty, you would take them back and get a refund,  you would be PISSED off, and you would be angry and feel that you had been ripped off by the seller.

But a puppy or a dog is just a dog...

It is, but also in the eyes of the law, a puppy is property, it is something you own that you can buy and sell, and a puppies purpose is to be a pet dog (unless you want a working dog to work in which case its purpose is to be a working dog)...

Just like a car or a washing machine or a freezer, a puppy can and should be, 'fit for purpose'...

You need to explain this further...

Ok, so you buy a car and a cars purpose is to be driven, to put your friends/partner/children in, and drive from one place  to another. It should also keep out the rain, it should stop when you put your foot on the brake, it should speed up, slow down, change gear...

You may want a big car, or a particularly fast car, or a pretty coloured car, or a small economical car, or a really enormous uneconomical car that pulls a trailer, these are the 'extras'.. these things are why cars are all different.

When you buy a puppy, you  might want a really big dog, or a really small dog, you might want one that has a long coat or a short coat, maybe you want one that runs very fast or perhaps one that moves slowly and doesn't want a lot of exercise..

For the purpose of being  pets, ie, live in your home, be good with adults, children, other pets, not freak out at the vacuum cleaner or bark like a mentalist whenever the window cleaner arrives, cope with sounds from the TV or computer games, be confident and happy walking on pavements or in the countryside... ALL dogs need to have a good temperament, and good physical health - just as no matter what car you get, it does need to go, stop, change gear, keep the rain out etc!

So what about this temperament and health...

Temperament and health come from the puppies parents, and from the environment that puppy was raised in.

So the puppy has to come from parents who were healthy - that means that they have no mental OR physical defects or diseases and have certificates to prove this.

The puppy also needs to have been raised in an appropriate environment too!

With puppies there is a special 'window' of time, in which a puppy can become familiar with new things - its about 14 weeks, from birth.

If your puppy is going to live in your house, be around your kids and your friends, walk along pavements with you, go in the car, on the bus, play in the park - then your puppy HAS to spend the first 14 weeks of his or her life in an environment that allows for that.

That means the breeder NEEDS to be doing things like: Having people visit from 4 weeks old, having the puppies handled carefully by children and adults, meeting OTHER dogs than their Mum, meeting other animals, hearing vacuum cleaners, TV's, washing machines, dryers, radios, computer games, experiencing life IN a house, going IN a car, going outside in the sunshine..

If your puppy does not come from a breeder who has done these things with him, then he is really like a car that the manufacturer forgot to fit with brakes or a gear lever... or wheels....

But surely if the puppy looks clean and cute and friendly...

No - because nasty people who just want your money are churning out THOUSANDS of puppies each year.

They breed puppies by keeping them in cold, sometimes dark, barns, - like cattle and pigs are sometimes bred, intensively farmed - these puppies have done NONE of the things they need to in their first few weeks of life.

Their parents have never been health tested, carry genetic defects, have dodgy temperaments and they will pass these things onto the puppy.

Some puppies will go direct to their new homes from a puppy farm like this, and if they are lucky enough to go at 6 to 8 weeks they MAY still catch up and learn all they need to learn to be confident, happy puppies before they are 14 weeks old.

Some of these puppies will go to pet superstores, the flash looking shops who sell puppies to famous footballers and pop stars - these puppies will then see the inside of a pen in the back of the store, or sit behind glass looking at people in the shop.

They will still NOT be learning all they should learn at this age, and, if they get too old to sell, which is about 10 to 12 weeks for most breeds - once they are no longer cute and fluffy, they go BACK to the puppy farm and are used to produce more puppies, which means they live their lives in the cold dark barns.

A life in one of these places means no cuddles, no walkies, no toys, no exercise usually, just food once a day and living in a small concrete pen on some sawdust.

But they do look cute.. and I can get one today!

Sure, they do look cute, and life is really sucky for them - but they are NOT going to make the ideal pet for you.

These puppies START life, 'broken' - would you buy a car you KNEW was already broken? Would you pay the SAME price for a car you KNEW was already broken and might say, explode on the motorway, as a car you KNEW was NOT broken?

I don't think you are that stupid, are you that stupid?

Ok, so, what might happen if I did?

The short version is, it could cost you a LOT of money, a LOT of time, be very hard to live with and potentially, dangerous.

Going into more depth,  most likely thing to happen is behavioural problems - I don't mean normal dog behaviour that is a bit weeing on the carpet.

I mean serious psychological issues, things like obsessions with patches of light or reflections off shiny objects. Noise phobias, fear aggression, even rage syndrome..

Fear aggression is likely to be really common, this is where a dog is scared of something, often with puppy farm pups, scared of LOTS of things, and as they grow they learn to bite to keep themselves safe.

The problem is they are scared of perfectly normal things and if not addressed by an expert, they get worse, lead a miserable life (imagine being scared of almost everything in your world!) hurt people or other animals and end up in rescues, or being put down.

The next thing is physical health problems.

If your dog has for example, hip dysplasia, you could be spending thousands of pounds to keep him free of pain and mobile. Operations to fix really bad hips are in the £2K + bracket and the chances are VERY high now that if you have insurance it won't cover you for inherited conditions where the parents were not health tested (the insurers view being that the condition could be avoided).

Hip dysplasia is just one of a multitude of health problems dogs CAN suffer from, there are heart problems, eye problems, brain problems, joint problems..

Anyone not using health tested parents to breed from, is taking a huge risk and if you buy from them, YOU are taking a huge risk.

Then of course there are the immediate problems with puppies raised in unpleasant and inappropriate environments, they often carry diseases, and disease can kill very young puppies. SO you may pay out hundreds of pounds and have a puppy who costs you hundreds at the vets, and then dies. Won't THAT be nice for your children to witness!

Ok ok, I won't go to a puppy farm, or a puppy superstore...

Thats good to know, but there are more sources of 'broken' puppies than that.

The nice couple in the free-ads, the ones whose bitch is ill or maybe she died, or perhaps shes at someone elses house for some reason, so you can't see her with her puppies?

Or the people who meet you in a lay-by or at a motorway services, or offer to deliver your puppy to your door?

These people are up to no good as well, they are out to rip you off and sell you a 'broken' puppy - these puppies are also from puppy farms, either here, or even worse, overseas.

Puppies imported from abroad MUST be 15 weeks old to come here legally - any younger than that and they have false paperwork, and they are  not as old as they are supposed to be and won't have had the injections they are supposed to have.

That means you are not just risking the poor health and disease that might affect or kill the puppy, now we are talking potential diseases that might kill YOU.

Imported puppies must be vaccinated against rabies, but vaccinating a puppy too young, or, falsifying paperwork and bringing in unvaccinated puppies, risks the spread of RABIES. There isn't a cure for rabies, and if you catch it, you are likely to die from it.

What about the free-ads?

Sad to say, thats not a good idea, nor, by the way, is the local pub!

Good breeders do NOT need to advertise in the free ads. Their litters are announced in advance with breed clubs and The Kennel Club, and these breeders have a waiting list, so you are unlikely to just go and get a puppy from a good breeder the day after you decide to get a dog, or even the MONTH after.

If someone is advertising in the free-ads, you have to ask yourself WHY. If their puppies were so good, if they were doing all the work necessary to make these puppies 'fit for purpose', the Rolls Royce of puppies, then they wouldn't need to advertise, they would all be sold practically before they were born!

Some people advertise because they have an accidental litter - unless both parents are health tested and good examples of their breed, avoid these - accidental litters rarely happen to experienced, reputable breeders. They happen when someone makes a mistake and whilst occasionally even the best of us makes a mistake, the fact that the accidental breeder has to advertise tells you they did NOT deal with their mistake correctly, which means they did not know what to do - and that means they may well not know how to raise a litter properly and won't be producing a puppy that is fit for the purpose of being a good, healthy pet of good temperament!

So where the hell do I get a puppy from then?

Do your homework - go to the breed club, if you don't know then just google your chosen breed and the words 'breed club uk' and you should find them, or go to the Kennel Club website and find them that way. Contact the breed club secretary and they will give you a list of people planning litters.

And what IS a 'Rolls Royce' puppy then?

The very BEST puppies, and no one should be breeding if they are not prepared to put in this work, will:

Be from health tested parents (or parents with a good PROVEN working ability if no health tests are available for a working type, ie Lurchers)
Be raised in a clean home environment - or spend a LOT of time in one - some breeds are not suited to being raised indoors for the full 8 weeks but they SHOULD have access to the house a lot of the time and not just be brought indoors for half an hour to show to a potential owner.
Be VERY well socialised with adults, children, other animals, other dogs - that means they are confident, bold and happy around men, women, children, people in funny hats or in wheelchairs, cats, maybe rabbits or chickens, other dogs...

Be VERY well habituated to every day normal situations - that means they are confident and bold and happy in their environment. They are not frightened by the sounds of the TV or a computer game or a stereo, they may jump at a noise but recover quickly. They should not be hiding in a corner or wary about investigating things, they should look like they are really really confident and familiar with the place they are in. The breeder should have got them used to being in a crate, toileting on dirt or grass, being separated from the other puppies and their Mum for short periods, taken them out in a car, introduced them to lots of different dog toys...

All of this, for a litter of say 8 puppies, and its all w ork that needs doing EVERY day, and needs to be started at 3 or 4 weeks old, is a FULL TIME JOB for a breeder.

This work cannot be achieved by someone who keeps lots of litters of puppies in a barn, it CANNOT be done by someone who is out for 8 hours a day leaving the bitch and pups to fend for themselves.

There are NO good reasons why a breeder won't be doing all of the above work with their puppies, because a GOOD breeder knows that all this work means their puppies are the best, their puppies are TOTALLY fit for purpose, able to do the job of being a pet dog, which is probably harder, than being any other kind of dog!

Only a bad breeder who is either stupid, or doesn't care, will skimp on this work and cut corners, and they are selling puppies who are not fit for purpose!

So - do you still think you want to pop out and get a puppy at the weekend, or do you think it might be wiser to do your research, and plan on getting a puppy in the next 3 to 6 months time?

If of course you actually don't mind the risk of needing to do lots of behavioural work, or taking on a puppy or dog who may be liable to suffer from inherited problems, or problems as a result of being raised in a crappy environment...

If you don't mind putting in the hard work, paying for experts, risking your pup not actually being the type or breed or breed mix you wanted originally...

Then you can take that risk, and do some GOOD, by rehoming a rescue puppy or dog.

Lots of these dogs actually originated from puppy farms, accidental litters, bought by people on a whim, like you were going to .. 'I want a dog and I want it NOW' people.. who couldn't handle the work involved.

Thats not to say all rescue dogs have problems, lots of them don't, or rather, their ONLY problem was the person who owned them before, and they themselves are actually fine.

But if you ARE willing to take that risk, then you might as well get a dog from a rescue - after all, its a lot cheaper (around £150) than buying a puppy farmed puppy (around £500!) and the risks are really no worse!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Episode review - Leader of the Pack, Miles the Street Dog

Wooo it's been a week already!

So, tonights episode doesn't feature a dog from a UK rescue - this time we meet Miles a smallish fluffyish older chap, with a look of a Papillon about him.

He's been a street dog in Italy for a long time and he's a clever boy, he found an American family with three Chihuahuas, who fed and watered him (and presumably got the wound on his right foreleg treated?).. but, they were heading back to the US and couldn't take him with them as they felt three dogs was enough (it is, damn, just call me excessive).

So they contacted Cesar somehow and Miles found his way to Spain to be 'rehabilitated' (spitspit).

We can safely assume that Miles spends a good couple of months at Cesars place before the new potential homes turn up, because the shaved front leg is completely grown back in by the time they film the families working with him.

Miles' only real issue is, he is a little food aggressive - note here, a little - this is a street dog who has had to fend for himself for quite a while, he has damn fine reasons for wanting to keep what he has to himself.

Cesar show's us Miles' aggression to food by putting a bowl of food down for Miles and another old Dachs x type dog. Fairly predictably, Miles has a pop at the other dog and Cesar does the whole neck jabbing tssting routine, 'claiming the food' yadda yadda.

Miles has a good few goes at biting Cesar but, he is a wise old guy and he grasps fairly quickly that Cesar is going to keep on picking this fight so Miles wanders off. I don't think he has learned not to be food aggressive, I think he has learned not to pick that fight, with that man.

Lets meet the people - theres Italian lawyer with his American wife, theres Italian Personal Trainer (I think he did other stuff but he was so quiet I dunno) and HIS English Fiance, and finally theres Eddies family, an english couple and their two children, living in Italy with their ancient terrier Eddie. I like Eddie, just so you know. Eddies my kinda dude.

First challenge - meet Miles loose in a large run, get his interest and then stuff him in a small travel kennel.

Personal Trainer and fiance have a go, they just crouch down and call Miles over and after a bit of sniffing around he goes to see what they want, nothing exciting here, they stuff him in the kennel, all is good.

Italian Law and wife go next - they take the food available and they can't agree on what to do, she wants to reward Miles for approaching them, he doesn't want to.

They split up and she follows Miles around calling him and offering food which eventually he takes an interest in, and she lures him into the kennel.

We are told by the caption on screen here that we should NOT reward a dog when it is offering negative behaviour (??) or the dog will be encouraged to behave that way again.

Cesar does some blathering on about this too, but nothing is clearly explained (like, what do they mean by 'negative behaviour'.. and in any case, Miles was approaching them and saying Hi, surely thats behaviour you like!).

Finally, Eddies family come into the pen and it is revealed, rather vaguely, that Eddie has been known to have a pop at other dogs when on the lead. Hmm, you do surprise me!

They wander about and head over to where Miles is studiously ignoring them and pointedly weeing up some tree branches.

They immediately all crowd round, keeping Eddie on a nice tight leash and fussing Miles, the two dogs trying to sniff and pretty predictably, Eddie has a snark at Miles and Cesar has to run over there and tell them to drop Eddies leash.

Eddie and Miles then do their 'confident terrier types meet one another' routine, you know the one, heads over shoulders ,stiff tails, circling circling, shall I put a paw on your back, ears back, eyes wary, is this play or a fight, i dunno, either one would be fun we are both old terrier chaps after all...'

Cesar at this point trundles out a load of bullshit about them HUGGING each other (both trying to get their heads over each others shoulders), that this is a 'bromance'  (Eddie at one point is trying to hump Miles...) and how this is great and they adore one another. Mmm.

Anyway - Italian Law and wife are ditched because they didn't play as a team, and she used food wrongly. Bubye!

Now its back to Personal Trainer and fiance - hes a cat person and really quiet, shes a confident english lass who has had dogs in the past. I already sense that shes really the boss here and I don't think Cesar likes that.

For this challenge, they massage Miles  - weirdest kind of massage I ever saw, really scrunching his skin up.
Cesar delivers dollop of bullshit number two here - apparently a dogs hind quarters are comparable to our shoulders (what, in 'made up anatomy 101?') and dogs hold tension there specifically, so you should massage a dogs butt.

Well dogs do tend to like their butts scratched, mainly because its pretty hard to reach for most dogs.

We should also not stroke dogs from shoulder to butt as that excites them, and then Cesar for some reason grabs Miles skin slightly further back than behind his shoulders and seems to PUSH down quite hard - it looks, if you will excuse my language, FUCKING painful, and this is an OLD dog, Miles sort of buckles in the middle and then goes down and Cesar continues to massage his spine (ie, scrunch and grab) whilst talking about dogs pelvises some more (which he is nowhere  near..).

This might explain Cesars total inability to read dog body language (except that I think he can and chooses not to)... if he thinks dogs hold their tension in their arses, then of COURSE he is missing ALL the body language in the face, ears, neck and shoulders! Doh, so simple!

Then they take Miles out to a town centre and walk him around making him leave food on the ground (which they do just by walking him past it quickly on a thin slip leash). Then they take him to meet some other old dogs and hes fine, he has some pretty good social skills.

Cesar tells us that street dogs ALWAYS have fantastic social skills... mm. Some do.. some, do not.

Next its Eddies family again and they are going to feed Eddie and Miles together - yay, and we already know Miles has issues with other dogs or people near his food so, heres an AWESOME idea, yes, lets give the approx 10 year old boy the food to give to the dogs!

He does, and actually without a human interfering, its ok... until Eddie tries to take a look in Miles's bowl and then Miles tries to eat out of the bowl of food Eddie has left and Cesar tries to get the Dad to wade in - he half heartedly pushes Miles away and takes the food away but Cesar says thats not good enough.

He brings in the food bowls again and Eddie and Miles - Miles now wise to this game wants nothing to do with it but Eddie, poor sucker, tries to take the food and Cesar gives him a few jerks on the leash and tsst tsst stuff, then the food goes away and they let the dogs loose.

Whilst they are talking, Eddie tries to hump Miles and Miles tells him to sod off by quickly snarking in his direction. Eddie takes this pretty well and Cesar actually correctly explains that its ok, Miles didn't like that and told Eddie so, and Eddie respected it.

Then they take the dogs for a walk and theres some stuff about how Eddie pulls on the lead and Cesar tries to make the Dad walk both dogs and the Dad as enough of Eddie pulling so drops both leashes and walks away.  Miles follows and Eddie says 'wow, ALL OF SPAIN, SEE YA' and the Mum has to run after him and get him back! (The shot of Mum running back with Eddie on the leash is pretty funny, you can see that Cesar and the rest of the family are quite a long way away now and I am betting Cesar just said yeah, ignore him, he will come eventually, and Eddie didn't!)

The final decision is, Eddies family get to keep Miles.

Cesar says its clear that Eddie and Miles love each other (Eddies face at this point is like YEAH, RIGHT!) and the two dogs should grow old together.

In the 4 weeks later catch up, Eddie and Miles do seem to be getting on pretty amicably, though Miles still looks stressed (could just be hot) and apparently prefers to sleep under the table and not on his bed. The shot of the family walking them shows that Eddie still pulls on the leash and Miles is as good as gold!

This episode wasn't massively horrific, apart from the negative behaviour thing and the hugging thing - it wasn't nice to see Cesar displaying his horrific methods with resource guarding, again, it is just SO unnecessary and dangerous!

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