Saturday, 15 June 2013

Leader of the Pack Episode Review - Janna the Malinois

Here we are again, somewhat late this week because its been a shitty week where I've had a load of work, felt like crap and then someone went and died. Oh and I spent half the week not knowing what day it actually was!

So, I only got round to poisoning my eyes with this weeks episode, last night!

Poor Janna is a Belgian Malinois seemingly in a world filled with total fools. I feel like that sometimes too.

Shes super high energy, needs a job, bored off her tits and has a pushy nature with other bitches.

She also self-mutilates.. they say.

Here we get a fantastic Cesar fuck-up, he clearly states that such problems are ALWAYS neurological.. and then a milisecond later the voice over tells us that Janna has been checked by a vet and the problem is not neurological, it is behavioural. Snort!

Actually what she does is flank suck - they tried to make out on the show that shes really biting into herself and doing damage, she isn't, and its very clear to see that there is no damage.

She does have a damaged nipple which shes obviously worried at - given shes having pretty severe phantom pregnancies, I would hazard a guess shes had mastitis and has worried at a sore infected nipple.

Despite pointing out the  phantom pregnancy, and showing us a clip of her frantically trying to nest in cupboards and on soft furnishings, digging so hard shes actually made her paws bleed.... the rescue shes come from have not thought to spay her. Nor does she get spayed before the rehoming process starts (you'll be glad to know she DOES get spayed before she goes to her new people but it would have been a damn sight more sensible to spay her before the assessment!).

So,  the premise is that Janna's self harming is the reason she needs a new home - it isn't. The reason is that shes an active high octane breed living with an old lady, who had to return her to the rescue.

 That's not to say that flank sucking isn't a worrying symptom - it is, but its a symptom of an animal who hasn't enough to do, has far too many hormones whizzing about and as self harming behaviours go, Janna's level of flank sucking is not massively serious. She's clearly not lost any fur, the fur isn't discoloured, shes got no scarring or open wounds. Animals who are serious self harmers will have all the above!

I am thinking they had to pad this show out a little, as at the beginning there is a weird section that's never been included before, where Cesar stops to chat to a lady who is presumably an employee, checking over a dog on a table. They discuss vaccinations and how its possible to over vaccinate and one can blood test to check for immunity. This is just skated over and no real  useful information is actually given.

Cesar takes Janna round some agility jumps, he uses a chuckit and ball to lure her and then reward her - nice, but this is the last we will see of any reward!

Cesar introduces Janna to the pack - as per usual, theres some TSST and jerking and kicking as he brings her in and lets her off lead. The other dogs are interested but not overly so, Janna pointedly ignores them which Cesar tells us is because shes confident - it isn't, at one point she actively seeks comfort/protection from the people and shes clearly pretending the other dogs are not even there, even when one tries to hump her.
My personal feeling here is she is not great with other dogs and in a group situation shes avoiding confrontation rather than actively happy.

Now we meet the candidates - Gill, Sven and Kylian - Sven is disabled and uses a cane to walk, Kylian is around 10 years old and they haven't had a dog since Gill's old collie/shepherd mix died some years ago.

Craig and Evita and their dog Noah, who they say is an American Stafford but shes clearly a mix - shes on a harness and collar with a double lead and they admit they have some issues with control.

Wendy and Brian and their old shepherd mix Rosa who has the manners of a saint.

Craig and Evita are up first and Cesar wants to deal with Noah's behaviour - Evita shows how she walks Noah, with a few ineffective collar jerks (on a very broad flat leather collar). Cesar is not impressed with her handling or her assertion that Noah is insecure, he say's shes dominant and takes over.

He puts his thin slip lead on her, and almost immediately takes her to the pack pen door, kicking, TSSTing and jerking. We get a screen caption that tells us really usefully:

"A 'TSSCH" sound accompanied by a correction with the leash can become a useful tool when walking a dog"

This however seems to be increasing Noahs reactivity and hes having to jerk her, lift her off her front feet and causes her to make a choking sound. She has her ears tightly back, and is panting heavily.

Then she is taken away, and no attempt is made to introduce Noah to Janna (which suggests to me that Cesar knows damn well, Janna is dog aggressive and so is Noah).

Janna is brought out to them on a thin slip leash, she is let off lead and seems a bit nervous. Then we cut to her lying down and she starts to flank bite. Cesar asks what they'd do to stop it and Evita immediately gets down to Janna's level, and puts her hand between Janna's mouth and her flank, pushing her head away.

This is yet another example of where Cesar allows people to take risks with their safety, some dogs WOULD have redirected aggressively at an intervention like this and I don't actually think Cesar knows enough to tell which would and which wouldn't.

He demonstrates his method, jabbing Janna in the ribs on the opposite side to that which she is biting, but its quite clear he has to jab pretty hard and when Craig and Evita try it, they have to jab her really hard to achieve the same results.

Next up are Gill Sven and Kylian.

Janna is brought out to them, now she is wearing a thin prong collar instead of the slip leash - this is not mentioned at ANY stage, nor is it mentioned that care should be taken with this device or what the potential outcomes are if they are not careful with it (personally I think it shouldn't be used at all of course!).

For those Cesar fans who state he never uses such things, or that he only uses them when the owners use them first... Janna has no owners, Cesar chose to use this collar, here is a photo!

Cesar asks Sven to go first and hes a little hesistant, clearly has no idea about the collar so gives Janna plenty of little tugs on it to keep her with him.

Cesar takes over (and takes Svens stick off him too, with very little warning!) and does a rather grim pretence of being disabled to demonstrate how he can make Janna go wherever - of course she complies as in the prong collar, shes got no choice.

Next the little boy Kylian has a go, again, tugging Janna all over the place. In each clip we see the prong collar moving position on the dogs neck, and again, no mention is made of it.

Finally it is Wendy, Brian and Rosa's turn.

Rosa is lovely, they have trained her with food and toys and she has a good repertoire of tricks and useful behaviours, shes really well behaved and clearly has a good bond with her people.

She's almost immediately introduced to Janna in a smallish pen.

Rosa is not hugely impressed and mainly ignores Janna. Janna on the other hand rudely shoves her nose up Rosa's bottom (impressive as Rosa is a big girl and shes SAT on her bottom at the time), and then starts some very pushy mouth licking, ear sniffing/licking behaviour.

This tells ME that Janna doesn't really know the rules of adult dog interaction. This behaviour is very puppyish, but it lacks the innocence of a pup soliciting attention from an adult, as a pup would NOT have stuffed its nose up another dogs jacksie whilst the dog was sat down.

Cesars evaluation is that they want to be friends. I disagree pretty strongly, Janna is insecure and pushy, she wants to know where she stands and shes going to push Rosa until she finds out exactly what the score is.

Rosa is not interested in this young bitch at all, she'd rather be somewhere else but shes too damn polite to say so... for a while.

Eventually, Rosa does politely tell Janna to fuck off, its a really reserved growl/snap as Janna again barges and shoves her about.

Janna however, reacts really badly, she turns and REALLY goes for Rosa, throwing a paw over her shoulder as she bites at her neck and throat, she keeps going for her and has to be pulled off by Cesar, who then scruffs her, and then pins her down.

Whilst Cesar then discusses what happens the camera shows us, slightly out of focus, Janna STILL bugging Rosa and Rosa very clearly looking away, moving away, turning her head away, yawning and lip licking. Rosa wants NO conflict, Janna either does not understand, or does not care and really WANTS a reaction.

Cesar however decides that actually this is not aggression (WHAT?) this is actually a dominance ritual.

We cut to another round of flank biting, but notably now the jab to the side doesn't work on its own and Cesar has to give her a good jerk with the slip leash as well before she will stop. I'd put money on her learning to redirect if this carries on.

Fairly predictably, Craig and Evita are chucked out at this stage as Noah and Janna are clearly going to be a horribly bad idea together - so much so that even Cesar hasn't suggested introducing them. (Oh.. and I thought Cesar could cure everything, he never has failures you know... mm!)

Final challenges -

Wendy and Brian and Rosa.

Cesar has Janna on a short slip, whilst in the back of the big paddock several dogs are doing the agility jumps.
Janna is twirling and jumping and squealing and really, not under control and Cesar has to kick her a few times.
He tells us that she is excited and she wants to do agility and this is why she is behaving this way, that she is not interested in the other dogs.

Personally, I'd disagree, its a bit telling the way her eyes and face track the other dogs as they  move!

Cesar blathers on about Janna needing a job and thus Wendy and Brian must be prepared for that... ok so far.. and then he insists they make Rosa do it.

Now Rosa is a heavy set 10 year old shepherd mix, shes really well trained and she can do some of the lower level stuff but Wendy  particularly is really NOT keen to force Rosa to do some of this stuff because shes got some old injuries and its risky, and potentially painful for her.

Cesar is really unhappy about this and bullies them into making Rosa do a dog walk - so he makes them FORCE a clearly scared Rosa up the dog walk (she wimpers at one point) a couple of times and declare her really happy about it (pinned back ears, heavy panting, tense, curled up body all suggest otherwise).

Next they take Janna, on lead, around the jumps - shes on the thin slip lead and at almost every jump she gets a good jerk in the neck. You can see Janna getting less and less keen on jumping because of this.

Throughout this, Rosa and Janna ignore one another completely.

Gill, Sven and Kylian have their final challenge now.

Janna is back in the prong collar, again no mention is made.

Bit more flank biting which Cesar stops with the prong collar and then we gloss over that and cut to Cesar jumping her on the prong collar.

Then Gill takes her round and again, lots and lots of accidental jabs on that prong collar, each time she jumps, as she lands she gets a good hard jerk to the neck and shes becoming more and more reluctant to jump, and more and more confused as to whats expected of her as there is no encouragement, and no reward at all.

Sven has a go and he drags her over a couple of fences then Cesar decides Janna should jump on a big table, so Sven runs her at it, but because he is not encouraging her to look up, she just runs under the table and around Sven.

She looks really confused and scared now, shes got NO idea what they want from her and almost every attempt at anything just results in a correction from that collar.

Cesar makes little Kylian stand on the table and call her and between them, they practically haul her up by the neck a couple of times.

Theres a brief discussion with the rescue rep, but Cesar mainly talks over her, or her real responses are cut as its very disjointed, he asks questions but doesn't wait for the answers etc.

Final decision, Sven Gill and Kylian win.

Six weeks later, Janna is spayed. There is no mention of the self harming behaviour that was supposedly SO serious, and clearly no evidence of it on Janna's body.

There is no prong collar in sight, there MAY be a spray or e-collar unit on in some shots but I really can't be sure at all and I'm erring towards it just being a bulky clip on her nylon collar.

Sadly she is now being walked on the type of anti-pull harness that has thin cords running under the armpits - these do cause pain, and also muscle damage :( .

So to conclude - Cesar has done nothing to sort out Janna, except have her spayed which the rescue should have done anyway, and Cesar certainly should have done BEFORE assessing and introducing to potential rehomers.
She is strong, and high energy, and pulls on the lead, which he addressed using the slip and the prong collar, and the new owners address using an anti-pull harness.
Yes, she now has a home, but I am not 100% convinced she will stay in it if the family really do use Cesars methods long term.

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