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 Cesar Millan's Leader of the Pack is a game-show riff on The Dog Whisperer, with families competing to take home an adoptive dog with behavior problems. Younger or sensitive viewers may find some dogs scary, as they bare their teeth and bark loudly; however, these behaviors are never treated harshly. Instead, Millan explains why dogs behave the ways they do, and teach families how to handle these behaviors gently but firmly, which may calm any heebie-jeebies. The competitive aspect of Leader of the Pack may worry younger viewers -- one family leaves with the dog, while two are left pet-less (though the show doesn't dwell on their sadness and focuses more on the dog's new happy family). However, if that's not a worry, viewers will learn a lot about dogs, what they're thinking, and how to handle them. Kids should be strongly cautioned not to attempt Millan's methods with unknown aggressive dogs, as they may look easy on television but go wrong in real life.
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What's the story?
Animal behaviorist Cesar Millan (The Dog Whisperer) brings his skills to a competitive format, as three families compete to take home a dog with behavior problems. On each episode of CESAR MILLAN's LEADER OF THE PACK, viewers meet a new dog that's living in a shelter and has had problems being adopted, usually due to aggressive or difficult behavior. Millan evaluates the dog and works with him a bit, and then meets the three families vying to take him home. Each of the three families are shown interacting with the dog, with Millan's advice and hands-on help, while voiceovers explain how well the families are handling their would-be pet. At the end of each hour-long episode, one family goes home with a new member and the skills they need to ensure their new pet fits happily into their home.
Is it any good?
Just as in The Dog Whisperer, watching Millan interact with difficult pets and swiftly calm aggression and solve behavior problems is tantamount to magic. Millan truly understands canine thinking and behavior, and it's both mysterious and sweet to see a scary dog who's been barking and growling quickly turn into a sweet, tail-wagging potential pet. Viewers will learn a lot about dogs and why they act the way they do on each show, and can pick up plenty of tips on how to treat their own pets or dogs in general.
However, young viewers should be strongly cautioned that unknown dogs can be dangerous, and they shouldn't try Millan's techniques on them, no matter how easy it looks on television. In addition, some viewers will be saddened to watch two families go home empty-handed, even though it's heart-warming to see a lonely dog find a loving home. On balance, this show treats dogs with respect, and venerates a caring and loving home for pets above all else, which is uplifting to see, even for people who don't already love dogs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why some animals behave aggressively. What in an animal's upbringing can make them bark, chew, or bite? Why would an otherwise loving animal sometimes behave in ways that are dangerous to humans?
How should a person approach a strange animal? How do dogs reveal their aggressiveness or friendliness? What is the safest way to deal with an aggressive dog?
Does Cesar Millan love dogs? What about Leader of the Pack brings you to this conclusion?
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