Karen B. London
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Dogs in the City
New show is worth a look
Justin Silver stars in "Dogs in the City"

“Dogs in the City” is a new CBS show based in New York and starring dog trainer Justin Silver. Each episode shows several people or families whose dogs have issues. Silver works with the people to improve the dog’s behavior and quality of life.

Silver really understands people, connects with them, and sees the human social dynamic clearly and fairly. He is direct, like a proper New Yorker, calling it as he sees it, but always in a kind and respectful way. The people chosen to be on the show are quirky enough to be interesting, but not too far out there. They are well within the range of clients that most trainers and behaviorists work with over the years.

The show focuses on how the people featured impact the behavior of their dogs. The show does not emphasize training specifics. There is little actual training in the show, and few specific cues given to the dogs, presumably because this show is not a how-to show on training. That said, Silver sets a good example as a trainer by using healthy treats and by emphasizing the importance of what people DO want their dog to do rather than on what they DON’T want their dog to do.

Some of what Silver says and does may not feel quite right to trainers. He pulls on the leash quite a bit with dogs, including his own, Chiquita and Pacino (who by the way are both adorable and beautifully behaved.) He uses the term “socialization” to mean being social with other dogs rather than using it more technically to refer to early, influential experiences during specific periods of development that in dogs end at around 4 months of age. He talks about being “master” which is not a term so commonly used anymore. He often kisses dogs on the nose, which is not a great example for viewers.

That said, it’s only fair to state the well-known adage that the only thing two dog trainers can ever agree on is that a third trainer is doing something wrong. I’m never going to agree completely with any other trainer, but there are things to praise about each one, too.

Silver’s deep connection to and love for both dogs and people is obvious, and he clearly cares to about members of both species. I love his emphasis on letting dogs be dogs rather than treating them as four-legged people. In summary, I like Silver, enjoyed the show and plan to watch it again. If you’ve watched it, what do you think of it?


Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

photo from Dogs in the City website

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Submitted by Anonymous | June 12 2012 |

I enjoyed his show very much. Very connected to the owners and the dogs. I'll keep watching for sure!

Submitted by jude | June 14 2012 |

I love the show with Justin Silver. You can tell he really loves dogs but has respect for their being dogs, not people. This guy is really very likable and he has a good heart. He has done a lot for the abused animals and continues to help the homeless and forgotten "man's best friend".

Submitted by DogDaz | June 17 2012 |

I watched the first show and was very upset with it and did not feel that Justin took the best interest of the animals into consideration. I understand he is trying to show people how to work best with their dogs, but to tether a fearful animal under a desk in a busy office, just so the owner can fell closer to it, to me is only about the human. Having to tie an animal up all day and expose it to stressful interaction because the human wants that, says to me that the show is more about his pretty face then about his ability to teach people and animals how to get along. I won't be watching and neither will my 7 (mostly) well behaved animals.

Submitted by JJ | June 18 2012 |

Was not impressed. Maybe I will watch one more show and take another look.

Submitted by Connie | June 18 2012 |

I watch and continue to watch because it is about the only thing I can find relating to dogs. As you and others have said I don't agree with everything he does but I do feel he has everyone's best interests in mind. What has happened to Animal Planet channel? Every time I tune in it is something I don't want to watch. I want positive programs showing the best times we can have with our dog friends. And how to succeed in communicating with each other. So I read Bark rather than watch Animal Planet.

Submitted by Kim - K9 Kompanion | June 19 2012 |

I've watched the show twice now and I'm glad that you explained that it wasn't supposed to be about technical training methods because I keep wondering where they were. I guess it's entertaing enough, he's cute, dogs are cute, but if anyone is watching hoping to learn something, all they're going to learn is how dogs and people live in NYC. But I guess that's the whole point.

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