Misunderstood canines find redemption on NatGeo Wild’s ‘Dog: Impossible’

‘Dog: Impossible’ – Respect and rehab for aggressive dogs

Matt Beisner

There is no such thing as a lost cause when it comes to dogs in Matt Beisner’s view. In fact, at one point he felt lost himself.

Which is why as a dog behaviorist and founder of The Zen Dog, he’s determined to rehabilitate the most dangerous, aggressive and misunderstood canines, ones that other trainers have given up on and are in danger of being put down. His efforts are front and center of Nat Geo Wild’s “Dog: Impossible.”

Airing Sundays, the 13-episode series follows the Los Angeles-based Beisner and his progressive approach to changing dog behavior, which focuses on the unique needs of each animal, from detachment issues to fear-based aggression. His aim is to develop the deepest possible relationship between owner and dog through respect, trust and love.

“My experience has been that there are no bad dogs,” Beisner told a recent gathering of journalists in Beverly Hills, Calif., “and that is born out of my own experience as a human, where I made a lot of choices that weren’t safe … . And I had an opportunity to make a new choice about how I wanted to live. And so, I see that happening for dogs.

“What ‘Dog: Impossible’ shows and what The Zen Dog method offers,” he continues, “is an opportunity for personal transformation, for redemption and for the ability to be seen for who we are, not for what we think we are, not for what we think the dogs are. So, if I operate from that place, that there are no bad dogs, I treat you differently right out of the gate. I treat you with a respect that you probably haven’t had before.”

In each episode, Beisner works with several aggressive dogs and encounters a multitude of underlying causes ranging from undersocialization and jealousy to mistrust and fear. Of course, much of that is due to the dog’s history and/or owner, so the human companions get an education as well.

“When we’re looking at aggression,” he says, “the odds are very good that humans in that dog’s life have not exposed it to the world in a way that helped it to be secure. … That dog doesn’t feel or doesn’t know how to connect with humans in a way that creates security, in a way that leads to appropriate behavior.

“It’s all about relationship. It’s teaching, it’s not training.”

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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