Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Leader of the Pack Episode Review - Turbo


I knew there was a reason I shouldn't have left last weeks episode so late, it's meant this weeks has come around too quickly!

Anyway, here we are again back in sunny Spain and this time it is Turbo's turn for.. well, we all know.

Turbo is an italian rescue (I think, they weren't so clear on this). He is a black GSD mix, though advertised as a GSD, I suspect some collie and retriever blood too, more collie I'd say.

Turbo was rescued from a bad home where he was kept chained up.... and moved to a rescue where he was kept caged up. We are not told how long it is since he was rescued from his chain, but he now has 'cage aggression'.

We see a fairly long shot of Turbo fence fighting with a bull x type dog at the rescue - it appears to be mainly frustration and excitement and a total lack of self control to me, but he is snapping at the cage bars a bit.

We finally get a vaguely useful screen caption: " Don't approach dogs that are chained, tied or behind fences".

We see Cesar get Turbo out of the car with the rescues representative - he appears very unfamiliar with walking on a leash, particularly a thin slip high up his neck.

Cesars Evaluation:  Turbo is introduced, through a fence (he is in a small pen) to a dog Cesar says is a 'soft energy' dog - removing the woo-woo from this, what he brings out is a black galgo/greyhound type who appears a bit nervous and not particularly interested in approaching the front of the pen where Turbo is pacing about.

The black galgo tries to reverse away and looks more scared the nearer Cesar forces him to get - they swap him for a different dog, this time a Spitz type bitch who is I think called Leeda (thats how it sounds anyway).

She's a lot more confident, first thing she does once off the leash is pee some distance from the pen where  Turbo can see her, then she approaches the pen and sniffs the ground in front of it a lot. Turbo wee's up the side of the pen and calms down quite a lot, presumably having sussed that this is a confident bitch.

Cesar takes Leeda into the pen... at least thats what we are supposed to think but... he does a lot of TSST and leaning over and blocking, jabbing Turbo in the flank and pushing his forearms over Turbos head and neck in a similar way to the way dogs will put their heads over other dogs sometimes.

At this point it actually looks as though Leeda ISN'T in the pen with Turbo and I suspect that this was cut and edited - he has her on a slip lead as he enters but then hes holding her the other side of the gate. I think he drops her lead when he needs to use both hands to dominate Turbo and intimidate him and its quite a long scene where there is no sign of Leeda in the pen... then it cuts and then you see Leeda in the pen. Who knows what happened here really!

Turbo definitely reacts to the TSST and various jabs to the neck and flank as if conditioned anyway.

He takes both dogs and puts a backpack on Turbo. He does at this point state that a dog like Turbo does need a job to do, apparently carrying weight is a job (if its not clear here, I do agree dogs need a job and physical exercise, but actually mental exercise is much more beneficial and useful, Cesar really doesn't recognise mental exercise.)

We see Turbo and Leeda walk, Turbo is very unbalanced when he walks, unfamiliar and wary of the leash. The backpack is unbalanced and this looks quite uncomfortable for Turbo in addition to all the other stress going on.

So far, throughout we have seen Turbo panting a lot, ears back, a lot of very edgy, stressy sort of behaviour.

Meet the Contenders... 

Dal Col family - Mum, Dad, Teenage Son, Teenage daughter Silvia and their two mid sized black retriever/lab/crossbreedy job bitches. It seems the family have come to support Silvia who is the dog trainer , they don't have much involvement otherwise.

Andrea and Rogero - students who are best friends and already have a dog together (really? can't we just say 'we are a couple' mm.) and want another one. They are I think 19 and have lived together 2 years and are at university.

Luca - single man in his 50s. Fab eyebrows.

I give you a prize if you figure out who wins from this brief introduction of the competing potential homes (and if you go back you'll see theres definitely a pattern!)

First Challenge - meet Turbo.

Luca goes first, he has to get Turbos trust and take him into Cesars pack (!! really... ok then..)

Turbo is lying down, open mouth, ears all flicky and LOTS of lip licking when Luca enters. Cesar asks him to evaluate Turbos body language and Luca says that his tail is not angry. Ok then (fair enough, it isn't. Turbo seems to be sat on his tail at this point though.)

Turbo rapidly decides Luca is safe to approach and does so, soliciting attention and physical contact, which he gets.

Cesar tells Luca off when he allows Turbo to jump up (I say 'jump', it wasn't a jump it was much more of a creep/sneak/snuggle than a jump!), NOT because dogs jumping up is rude and bad manners, no - because you should not give away affection for free, being invited into your personal space is a gift you give to the dog and you shouldn't give it immediately. Ie, don't be a cheap slut. Mmm.

The fact that Turbo got affectionate and comfortable with Luca immediately means that Turbo feels he is in charge. Ok then.


Next we see Turbo on a slip lead in front of a small pen (the swimming pool pen, there is a two-dog-wide track around a smallish concrete dog paddling pool, so theres not much space here at all) which contains some of Cesars pack - including Junior, two greyhound/galgo types and a small wirey terrier job.

Turbo is quite agitated, and we see him clearly solicit some reassurance and comfort from Luca - Cesar immediately disallows this and takes Turbo from Luca and gives him some corrections with the leash, his hands and his TSST sound.

Again, its damn obvious here this is not the first time that Turbo has been in such a situation, I would say he has met and been presented with the pack and TSST'ed, jabbed etc on many occasions previously.

Turbo is basically shoved in through the door in front of Luca and Cesar, and the pack proceed to mug him, chasing him round the pool.

At this point Cesar chuffles on about how Turbo SHOULD stand still and submit and allow the pack to sniff him and the fact he keeps moving is wrong.

Something kicks off between Turbo and Junior, I think Turbo was cornered and lashed out - Cesar shouts HEY and TSST at them and whatever it was it all stops.

Cesar lets them all out into the big paddock and things are much better here with some space, Turbo looks a lot happier.


Next we meet the Dal Col family, mainly Silvia. It is unfortunate that Silvia comes across more confident and older  than she really is, she is 15 I think - her spoken English is also not brilliant which doesn't help and she comes over a bit 'stiff'. I make this point because I think how Cesar treats her is fucking unforgivable. The cunt. No I won't apologise for that.

The clip of the family at home reveals that Silvia is a clicker trainer - the screen caption has to put clicker in inverted commas... ' Silvia uses a 'clicker' to train her dogs' and then ' 'Clicker Training' is a method that uses a noisemaker and a reward to reinforce behaviour'...

I thought perhaps I was being a bit picky here but .. no.

So we go back to Cesars big paddock and meet Silvia and Cesar asks her about clicker training, in the same way you might say to someone 'So, you wear an octopus on your head and dance nearly naked, with just a thong crafted from bacon, whilst singing show tunes, and then you dine on the flesh of freshly slaughtered Unicorn. Ok then. *backing away slowly*.

It is quite clear as Silvia demonstrates clicker training that Cesar is unimpressed, which is shitty to do to a kid.

She is now meant to take her two bitches in to meet Turbo - she very sensibly aproaches the pen slowly and allows her girls to take their time. They are not massively bothered by Turbo, though I think they are also hot and knackered.

Cesar helpfully tells us that our dogs will tell us about the energy and temperament of other dogs - which can be true, but he completely omits anything about how not all dogs are an accurate judge of others, our dogs may be telling us more about how THEY are feeling, etc etc.

Silvia attempts to take her girls in but Cesar suddenly decides shes doing it wrong - I cannot see what his problem was here at all personally, I thought Silvia was doing fine. He goes in first and does a lot of TSST and neck jabbing so that Turbo will back up and let him in. Turbo is now ears back and stressy panting.

Cesar tells us that we must claim space and dominate Turbo to demonstrate that we love him.


When he then lets Silvia take her girls in, all the dogs ignore one another, probably because its a small space, they are hot and Turbo is worried about moving in case he gets TSSTED and prodded again.

Cesar tells Silvia she can let them all out and she does so, her girls come running out...... and Turbo is terrified to cross the gateway, even with no one stood there, as a direct result of Cesars bullying in my opinion. He hovers at the gate way, wanting to come out, pacing, before finally making a break for it.

He plays with the girls a bit, rather rough jumpy games but the longer coated girl can handle him.

Finally, it is Rogero and Andreas turn, with their black lab boy, Black.

They introduce Black through the fence and Turbo and Black go nuts at one another, snarling, snapping, at one point Turbo is biting at the fence trying to get to him.

Cesar takes Blacks leash, turns it into a slip leash high up Blacks neck and starts correcting him - at one point one of the boys tries to reassure Black that it is ok and Cesar tells him off for it, this is shortly after Cesar gives Black a correction that makes him make a choking sound! They should not give him affection, it is nurturing his behaviour.

I think that what we don't see, is the boys telling Cesar that Black does have some dog to dog issues, it is mentioned but only briefly and I think it is more serious than anyone actually says on the show.

When one boy takes Black into the run with Turbo, Turbo just avoids - the boy keeps Black slightly behind him on a short leash. The second boy goes in with Black though and he allows him to pull in front and go nose to nose with Turbo, which Cesar is far too slow to stop and so one or other of them snaps and I think Black gets his front legs bitten, there is certainly a yelp as if he has been bitten.

Cesar immediately takes over and walks Turbo down, staring at him menacingly, standing over him, pushing him into the far corner with Black on a short leash behind him - Cesar tells us he is 'erasing the memory of what happened before'... WOW what a skill! A superpower almost!

He makes whichever of the two boys who messed up first time repeat this with Black and that ends the challenge. There is no off lead in the big pen with Black and Turbo.

Somewhat predictably, Rogero and Andreas are out.

Final Challenge:

Luca and Cesar take Turbo and Junior out hiking, both dogs wearing backpacks. This isn't really much of a challenge to be honest. Cesar demonstrates how to use a long line correctly, in response to Luca asking if Turbo can go off leash yet.

Cesar's opinion is that Luca is too soft and doesn't have great leadership skills really, but the dog does clearly like Luca.

There is some waffle about why making them wear backpacks is good, both Luca and Junior look knackered in the boiling sunshine.

At one point, Cesar ties Turbo by a thin slip leash, to Junior, which neither dog looks over the moon about, and suggests this is a good way to teach dogs to walk off leash, using a dog who already knows a recall. It is a method I have seen - traditionally hounds are coupled young hound to old hand, but they use collars with swivel chain fitments, not a thin slip leash.

Next is Silvia.

She explains the clicker training nicely, her challenge appears to be to demonstrate this to Cesar and this is where I think he was really unfair.

He asks her to demonstrate some agility off leash in the huge paddock - bear in mind the people only get a couple of days here and it is VERY hot, her dogs are middle aged and black. She is visibly nervous and of course, when she lets her agility dog off leash, her dog doesn't want to play. She can clearly sense that her mum is uptight and nervous, shes in an unfamiliar environment and shes far too hot, so she heads for some shade and ignores Silvias cues.

In my opinion, Cesar set Silvia up for failure here in a MASSIVE way. He leaves her calling her dog for ages, watching her get wound up and stressed (bear in mind, this is a kid!) - a fair person would have amended the task slightly but in my opinion, Cesar wanted to show up positive training and make out that its not effective.

There was some mention of staying calm, but absolutely NO mention of making sure that what you are asking is fair from the dogs point of view. She does get her dog to jump over a jump in the end, but it is very clear that this dog is hot and tired and worried.

Cesar also asks to see Silvias family handling the dogs - this again is unfair, it is Silvia who wants the dog and her existing two dogs are clearly well trained, well mannered and well looked after. Her family obviously support her in what shes doing, so the fact that all three of them are a bit rubbish at handling the dogs is not particularly relevant - they clearly DO listen to Silvia on how to do things, they just don't practice it often as they are Silvias dogs.

In the end, Luca wins. Luca seems like a nice guy, and in the 3 weeks later shot, Turbo is getting lots of affection (er possibly too much but he seems to be tolerating having his face hugged a lot quite well), lots of off lead exercise - there isn't a slip leash or a TSST or a jab in sight and he does look like a happy dog.



It has become pretty clear to me that you can pick out who will win each episode just by figuring out what Cesars prejudices are.

This episode, there was no way the two boys would win. This is not the normal set up, this is not the 'ideal family' in Cesars mind thus, they won't win.

Now, I don't disagree that they were not suitable to own Turbo - very clearly Black and Turbo would have fought, but I am positive that Cesar knew that before they started filming.

Silvia was never going to win as a positive trainer, and also as a girl who knew more than anyone else in the family and was the 'leader' of her family...

In previous episodes he has gone off people because their family unit doesn't fit his ideal, because the woman has been the bossy one...

His reasons for Silvia not winning this episode were that Turbo being added to the existing 'pack' would upset the dynamic... but these two bitches handled Turbo fine and he was much calmer with them than anyone else. Cesar also talked a lot about how Turbo needed other dogs to teach him boundaries and how to be a dog. He has rehomed dogs to homes with other dogs - Jet in the first episode went to live with four or five other dogs - would that not upset the group dynamic??

Maybe it is me being super picky, but I have correctly identified the winner before the end of the first challenge in every episode so far!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

1 comment:

Daniela Hielckert said...

GOd Damnit I wish Silvia got the dog the dog could use some clicker training :(