Dogster Movie Review: “Canine Instinct”

Move over, Dog Whisperer. Kyle Warren is here. Known as the dog man of Ulster County (NY) Warren has been training dogs since he was...


Warren and one of his lucky students

"Canine Instinct" gets Dogster's highest rating -- 4 paws

Move over, Dog Whisperer. Kyle Warren is here. Known as the dog man of Ulster County (NY) Warren has been training dogs since he was 16 (but really started at 10 years old). He doesnt use treats or clickers or heavy-handed techniques. His training methods have their roots in his keen instinct about dogs.

The results are nothing short of miraculous.

In his new-on-DVD documentary, Canine Instinct, director Nicholas Goodman brings us a fascinating look at Warren. If theres such a thing as past lives, Warren was definitely once a dog. The way he communicates with them, relates to them, and handles them isnt based on standard techniques. Its his own unique style, stemming from a deep love of and respect for dogs, and an uncanny ability to know what to do and when and how to do it.

The film is highly entertaining and utterly engrossing even for non-dog people. Youll be at the edge of your seat, for instance, watching Warren take a highly aggressive dog and make him into a dog who gets along beautifully in society. Without Warren, the dog would likely have been euthanized.

A non-dog-owning friend who watched the movie with us exclaimed, This guy is phenomenal! If he had a TV show Id watch it in a heartbeat. Shes right: Warren should have his own show. And Goodman should produce and direct it. Id watch, and Ill bet a lot of people who are burned out on certain other famous trainers would flock to it.

The film focuses Warrens passions: Dog training, working with his search-and-rescue team, and racing homing pigeons. Warren fully invests himself in these, and in life. He is clearly a happy, fulfilled man. Hes greatly gifted, but also humble and realistic about his talents.

When somebody calls me the doggy psychologist, I stop them short and say, Im just a guy who knows dogs really well and has been doing it since he was 10 years old.

Goodmans film is exquisitely put together, from the cinematography to the fun use of music to the editing that stitches the story together so seamlessly that its running of 62 minutes flies by in a flash. His documentary has won a some respectable awards and has been shown in several film festivals. Until recently, unless you were in a festival city, you couldnt see the film. But fortunately now that it’s out on DVD, we can all enjoy it.

Canine Instinct is a film that inspires. When it was over, I looked at good old Jake with fresh eyes, realizing the untapped potential he has. I just need to know how to bring it out in him. Ill be ordering a copy of Warrens book, Stay. Come. Heel. Every Time. If anyone can help me teach an old dog some new tricks, its Kyle Warren.

If you want to see him in action, here are a couple of snippets.

Check out this fun sit-stay “ballet” sequence (it starts about halfway through this clip, but the whole thing is worth watching). It’s one of my favorite parts of the movie.

And here’s the trailer. Unfortunately it shows Warren jerking the leash hard, which, judging by early comments below, isn’t going to go over well with some Dogsters. Please do not judge him by this. You need to see the whole film, as one commenter noted.

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