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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this series focuses on helping pet owners who are struggling with their animals' major behavioral challenges. Some of the pets actually cause fear and/or physical harm to their owners, which may frighten young viewers. But the hosts help solve problems by bringing in teams of behaviorists to work directly with the owners -- each piece ends on a happy note. Pets include cats, dogs, birds, reptiles, horses, and more. Filmed in England, the series also boasts wonderful footage of urban and rural communities.
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What's the story?
Filmed in the UK by the BBC, BARKING MAD gives a taste of the challenges faced by everyday pet owners. Hosts Philippa Forrester and veterinarian Mark Evans introduce viewers to different pet owners across Britain, their animals, and the problems they're facing. For example, there's Ralph the iguana, who's grown grouchy in his too-small quarters; Oliver, a Persian cat with an aversion for grooming; George, a Labrador who can't help but jump up to branches and hang on until they break; and a bored penguin at the Edinburgh Zoo.
Is it any good?
Barking Mad is a pretty benign show for young kids -- just watch out for footage of bloody bites and scratches (though what's shown here is nothing in comparison to the real-life surgeries on Emergency Vets). All in all, the hosts' interactions with the owners show great humor and warmth, but they sometimes can't resist casting some snide jokes to viewers about the owners' situations.
For kids who are already wary of animals and/or get upset when observing pet-related injuries, Barking Mad isn't a great choice. But kids who already have animals may get helpful tips on ways to care for their pets (and prevent some of the problem behaviors on display). And for everyone else, if you can stomach the injuries, the information about the animals -- combined with the dry wit of the hosts and owners -- makes the show well worth watching.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the challenges of pet ownership and the specific responsibilities it entails: feeding, grooming, healthcare, exercise, playtime, training, etc. How can you tell if you're a good pet owner? What signs should you watch out for to indicate that your pet is having problems? Kids interested in specific animals that appear in the show can visit their local library to learn more. Also, if their kids are aspiring to work with animals, parents can discuss the careers depicted in the program -- veterinarian, technician, and behaviorist.