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 the canines featured in this British dog-training series occasionally get aggressive and growl or bite at one another or humans. And the host's motivation methods can be harsh; she raises her voice and lectures owners about how spoiling their dogs leads to poor diets and bad habits. She also uses scare tactics (like visiting animal shelters to show where the pets could end up), and her words often reduce the people to tears. But her advice is spot-on, and dog-loving families will pick up tips on discipline and diet.
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What's the story?
In IT'S ME OR THE DOG, Victoria Stilwell -- a self-proclaimed advocate of treating a dog like, well, a dog -- travels the United Kingdom to work with families in desperate need of intervention for bad habits like biting, barking, chewing, and hyperactivity. She interviews family members and learns about the dogs' daily routines and eating habits, as well as the owners' methods of discipline (or lack thereof). After observing the often-chaotic household dynamics, Stilwell works with both the pets and their owners to correct poor behavior. But old habits often prove hard to break -- especially for the softest owners, who can't resist those pleading puppy-dog eyes. After leaving the family to their own devices for a few weeks, Stilwell returns for a follow-up visit. If her subjects have fallen off the wagon, she gives them more lectures about their responsibilities as pet owners and reminds them that their errant ways could eventually cost them their pets.
Is it any good?
Stilwell is to over-pampered pups what the Supernanny is to tantrum-throwing tots, and she's on a mission to change the way that pet owners think about doggie diets and discipline.Her tactics get the job done -- at least within each episode's 30-minute window -- but she often brings owners to tears by yelling at them or scaring them with trips to the animal shelters (where their dogs could wind up if they're taken away). While very young viewers likely won't understand or appreciate her in-your-face methods, older kids will learn something about pet care and discipline.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Stilwell's methods. How does she use body language and voice tones to communicate with the animals? Do they respond to her better than they do to their owners? Why or why not? Would any of her advice work for your family's pets? Parents and tweens can also discuss the educational nature of reality shows like this one. Do you think this series intends to educate or entertain viewers (or some of both)? How is it entertaining? Did watching teach you anything? How real is reality TV in general? Are any reality shows more believable than others? Which ones?