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!