Dog trains man

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Might be coming soon in a theater near you

A brand new dog show aired on Danish TV recently. It has a refreshing concept building on dogs, kids, adoption, and positive reinforcement.

After watching the first couple of shows I am so positive about it as it conveys some great messages on adoption and getting professional help when adopting. I hope production companies in other countries get inspired by the concept.

Dog trainer Jan Vestergaard in new Danish TV-show
The show

Each show is about a family. The children's greatest wish is to have their very own dog, while the parents do not think their children can take on the responsibility to care for a dog. They say No.

Together with Jan Vestergaard - the newbie TV host and a dog trainer/behaviorist in normal life - the children meet with three dogs. Each dog has been preselected from the local shelter by Jan Vestergaard. He helps them to choose one of the dogs, and the kids are allowed to take the dog home with them for a couple of days.

Jan Vestergaard visits the family and teaches the kids how to walk with a leash and other basic routines using positive reinforcement. You can almost hear the kids think "that's easy we are home-free!" Of course, during the days the dog stays at the family, issues turn up. Jumping on guests, barking at the door bell, not being house-broken, etc.

Unfortunately for the kids the parents discover this also and point it out to be not acceptable. "Bummer! not so easy after all!". Jan Vestergaard shows the family what they can do and works with the kids to chance the behavior, of course with success. He succeeds very well in explaining it as not being something bad about the dog, and turns disappointment into success. Positive reinforcement for the whole family.

The show closes with the "moment supreme", asking the parents for permission to keep the dog. You know how that turns out, as we are still watching television.

Popularity driving change

I would say nice things about any TV-show that is not about the usual pack leader blabla. But I especially like this show because it promotes not only adoption, but also getting professional help when adopting. When the show increased in popularity, you could see dog trainers in Denmark doing more to promote their services to help families adopt a dog. And clearly the show has contributed to people's interest in this service.

Why is that a good idea? Kevin Myers wrote a very good post on his DogLoversDigest blog: Keeping It Real When Adopting a Dog – Step Two: Find a Trainer. I say no more.

Excuse my Danish

The name of the show itself is "Så er der hund", which is impossible to translate to English. What it tries to convey would be something like "And now we have a dog / are a dog family / gone to the dogs". All at once.

Unfortunately I have not much else to show for because all is in Danish, but for the not-so-faint-hearted here is a link to episode 10 from the show: Clara from Østerbro, Copenhagen



  1. This sounds fantastic. There is a show like that here, "Pick a Puppy", only not it is not as positive as it doesn't focus on adoption. Which is a shame. But I agree that consulting a trainer first is a smart idea. They will have better knowledge on the type of dog that would suit one's family and lifestyle best.

  2. Glad you liked it. I really hope some production companies pick up on the idea and make an English version.

    Although there is nothing wrong with shows telling about "breed characteristics" they are hardly educational about what it means to have a dog and they generally feed the "oh lets get that cute puppy" sentiment.

    Meaning in the end they are also sustaining bad breeders and help filling up the shelters.

  3. I like the idea of this show! First off, it features adoptable animals, instead of "new" puppies. Secondly, it involves the entire family. Owning and caring for a dog is a shared experience in which everyone in the family has a role.

  4. Hey, Kenzo, this is great! Positive methods, using adoptable dogs, telling the truth about the work involved and getting the whole family to understand what will be required - training! Love alone does not housetrain a dog or give them the manners that will make them welcome everywhere they go:)

    Hope your Christmas holidays were filled with family and happiness!

  5. Hi @Karen and @Mary, thanks for stopping by!
    It makes great television too, I am sure it will be picked up by other TV production companies and its success can be continued abroad.

    (thanks for the Holiday wishes, hope yours were great too :)

  6. That sounds interesting. It really is a good idea to get professional advice of any kind when adopting.

    All our dogs in the last 20 years have been rescues and they all came with issues, physical and mental. I found that it didn't just take love, patience and training from us (the family), but also patience and understanding from the larger (dog) community to get the dog accepted.

    A show like what you described would certainly help the public understand that better I think.

  7. What a great concept! I would much rather see a show like that here than the one where one dog stays with 3 potential adopters and their families. They have to demonstrate they can train a dog, feed them and are for them for 24 hours. Pretty lame and doesn't demonstrate how one can train a dog. I also love that the kids get to see how hard dog ownership can be, but also how rewarding. Is Animal Planet listening? This would be a great new show here in the US!

  8. Hi Georgia,
    Good for you (and your dogs) you have always been adopting. In the end it is always a leap of faith, how well you try to prepare yourself, don't you think?

  9. Hi Mel,
    Do you refer to a show you have seen? I have not seen that one and I am curious :) Great tip for Animal Planet, I can see you already have it out on Twitter !

  10. Take care and have a Happy New Year.

  11. Chiming in late here -- what a terrific concept! It doesn't involve a contest or weird dysfunctional people with a bunch of insane dogs (and here I'm thinking It's Me or the Dog), just a typical family with a typical dog and typical problems.

    Nah, it'll never work over here. Not gimmicky enough.

  12. Hi @Edie
    Its Me or The Dog is Victoria Stilwell. Like the Dog Whisperer is Cesar Milan. If they would cast the right dog-trainer-person to the show, it could also work in the US?


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