When it comes to reality television, animals have their own buffet of shows— cute animals, weird animals, dangerous animals— numerous networks across cable and broadcast are dedicated to the creatures of the world and how we interact with them. And following the success of shows like “Dog Whisperer,” canines have been the stars of dozens of pet-related reality TV shows and contests. According to direct.tv, the National Dog Show was one of the most popular programs on Thanksgiving Day last year alongside the Macy’s Parade and NFL games.
But while clips of puppies playing with their owners are adorable, not all shows highlighting man’s best friend educate us on raising and taking care of a dog. So which shows out there are useful, and which ones are good for a laugh?
Dogs in the City (CBS)
Having never lived in a big city, I’ve always wondered about some of the difficulties of owning a dog in a downtown apartment. When my golden retriever needs to use the bathroom, I simply open the door and out he goes to the back yard. But in the city, there are so many details urban-dwellers must know when raising their pet. “Dogs in the City” follows a stand-up comedian, personal trainer and dog trainer Justin Silver as they help various clients solve pet behavior issues and give them overall counsel on raising a dog in New York City.
If you live in a rural area, you’ll get no more or less from “Dogs in the City” than any other dog-training reality show, but this is a must for anyone living in a high rise.
Alpha Dogs (National Geographic)
Jack Osbourne (son of rock legend Ozzy Osbourne) is an unlikely name for producing a reality show about any animals, let alone one following K-9 units, but that’s what he did. “Alpha Dogs” follows trainer Ken Licklider and his trainers as they produce some of the most elite K-9 units in the country. They train German Shepherds to assists with anything from police units to military fighting in the Middle East.
Will you be training your poodle to fight Al-Qaeda? Hopefully not, but there is a lot to be learned from the people who train some of the most obedient dogs in the world.
Dogs 101 (Animal Planet)
For first-time owners who are unsure about what breed to adopt, this is the perfect show for you. “Dogs 101” highlights a different breed each episode to share the pros and cons of owning anything from an English bulldog to a golden retriever. The covers areas like behavior, health, maintenance and activity. Friends of mine who live in the southwest considered adopting an English bulldog, until they realized they can’t handle excess heat very well. They would have never learned that if it wasn’t for this show.