One of California’s best dog trainers brings a unique view of canine psychology to the task of helping aggressive doggos through their trauma.
I’ve said it before, and here I am saying it again – dogs are largely better than people. They’re also easy money, from a content perspective, since any piece of media about man’s best friend is going to summon people in droves, which probably explains why Netflix doubled-down on releasing Canine Intervention despite a decent amount of controversy about the training methods espoused by its central figure, Jas Leverette, owner of Cali K9 in San Jose. On the one hand, Jas is considered to be one of the best dog trainers in California; on the other, his methods are considered “problematic”. It is 2021, after all.
But I don’t know enough one or way the other, to be honest – my dog mostly just sits around and eats, though I can get behind the idea of a canine having emotions just as complex as their owners. And if you buy that premise then you’ll understand the hook of this new series, which is that Jas helps out doggos that have suffered some kind of trauma, making them aggressive and in need of some therapizing lest they be euthanized. In many cases, he’s the dog’s last hope, a sentiment which the first episode, about a three-legged pit bull named Lady Macbeth, confirms.
A lot of Jas’s personal life and history is interspersed with all this, and there’s room for it because a lot of the training back at San Jose HQ is skipped over, which I’m sure will only fuel the fire of speculation regarding what actually goes on over at Cali K9. It’s easy to assume the worst, but the dogs tend to come out the other side better than before, even if it’s important to remember that they remain works in progress – helping trainers calibrate their expectations is as much a part of the process as anything since while there’s no such thing as an inherently bad dog, there very much is such a thing as an inherently bad owner.
Canine Intervention does a good job of threading Jas’s viewpoint through the episodes, and it reads as something different and worthwhile, at least in terms of its success rate. I’d be interested to hear the counterargument. If his methods are too harsh but they work, is that better or worse than being too soft and having to put down a dog that rips another one to shreds? If a dog is liable to pull a baby’s arm off, hasn’t it earned a stern talking to? Like I say, I’m not an expert.
It’s certainly a bit odd that so little of the actual training methods are displayed, and you have to wonder whether that’s damage limitation given the controversy, a deliberate editing choice to display more of Jas’s personal life, or something a bit shady. The overall tone is reminiscent of an advertisement, admittedly, and it’s something that should absolutely be considered in the appraisal. But, you know, doggos. Can’t argue with that.