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Interview with Matt Beisner, the Dog Behavior Specialist from Dog: Impossible

Written by: Melissa L. Kauffman, Group Editorial Director Catster/Dogster

Last Updated on February 9, 2024 by Dogster Team

Interview with Matt Beisner, the Dog Behavior Specialist from Dog: Impossible

Most of us animal lovers are no strangers to the Nat Geo WILD television network as it focuses on all things animal. (Woo hoo!) What animal lovers may not know is that Nat Geo WILD is launching a new series this September 2019 called Dog: Impossible, which follows dog behavior specialist Matt Beisner as he works with problem dogs. Now, we have seen this premise before — and liked it, but what caught my attention were two things: Matt works with the very aggressive dogs, the ones that get put down because of their issues. Also, Matt used to be an addict and had his own life transformed — so he gets that the so-called bad dogs and bad people, may not be all that bad and deserve a second chance. The first episode of Dog: Impossible airs on Monday, September 2 at 10 p.m. (9 p.m. Central).

Watch trailer here.

Regarding recovering addicts: This country has a series drug problem. I’ve known of three people who have died from a drug overdose — family members of people I know — in just the past six months. And regarding fear aggressive dogs: My own dog Justice, who lived on the streets before ending up in a foster home and then being adopted and returned a couple of times, has issues with fear aggression. Justice is an extremely loyal, loving dog — he’s not a “bad dog,” although his lunging, growling and sometimes nipping behaviors when on leash make it seem that way to outsiders. So the series’ “hooks,” works for me — I’ll check it out.

Dog: Impossible follows Matt Beisner as he works with dogs with serious fear aggression issues.
Dog: Impossible follows Matt Beisner as he works with dogs with serious fear aggression issues. (Courtesy Nat Geo WILD)

What I really like about this show and Matt is that it addresses these dogs from the perspective of a human who’s been there. Plus, it addresses those dogs who are so lost in fear that it’s hard to get out — and the clock is ticking. If you are a dog that has a lot of fear and is aggressive, chances are high that you’ll be put down. This just doesn’t seem right, especially when it’s us humans who got those dogs in that kind of condition in the first place. Those of you who are Dogster readers know that this is a topic close to my heart. We’ve covered this topic before — in the August/September 2019 issue in our Be Furractive column, where writer Lauren Katims talked to the ASPCA about its Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in North Carolina. It’s heart-warming to see that not everyone is giving up on these dogs.

In anticipation of the upcoming show, Dogster got a chance to chat with Matt about the show:

Dogster: Why did you become a dog trainer, particularly one who specializes in dogs with aggression issues?

Matt: I think of myself as more of a teacher as opposed to a trainer. I teach humans and dogs how to feel comfortable and secure in the world they live in.

In the early days of cleaning up my life, I moved in with my girlfriend who had a 13-pound rescue pup named Kingston that was aggressive. It was time for me to face my fear of dogs and my fear of everything else. In taking care of him, I began to take care of myself. This was the beginning of what would become THE ZEN DOG ethos: If we make it about the dogs first, we all transform. My reward for that was more aggressive dogs.

All dogs can develop fear aggression problems, even dog breeds with happy temperament reputations.
All dogs can develop fear aggression problems, even dog breeds with happy temperament reputations. (Courtesy of Nat Geo WILD)

Dogster: What do you believe in and what don’t you believe in when it comes to training? (force, non-force, positive rewards, etc.)

Matt: My approach is to develop the deepest possible relationship between you and your dog with the least amount of tension. I don’t promote choke chains, shock collars, alpha rolls or other popular aversion techniques. Nor do I rely on clickers, treats and methods intended to create “obedience.”

Dogster: Can you walk us through an episode?

Matt: Each episode of Dog: Impossible focuses on the arc of transformation that happens in our day-to-day practices — in people’s homes, here at our facility and out in the world. Each week you will see humans and dogs change their relationship and do the impossible.

Stef DiOrio and Matt Beisner walking Whiskey in the street outside Mirna Sanchez and Raul Villatoro’s home. (National Geographic/Damon Mosier)

Dogster: Who else is on your team helping you?

Matt: I have a strong staff of 14 team members led by our Manager of Dog Handling, Stef DiOrio, and our Manager of Administration, Caitlyn Montgomery, both featured in the show.

Dogster: What do you hope people take away with them after seeing the show?

Corazon del Sol and Linda Franke sitting on the front steps of their home and petting Lou.(National Geographic/Damon Mosier)

Matt: Dogs are magical, people are braver than they think and the world is a better place with them in it.

Dog: Impossible airs Sundays at 10 p.m. (9 central) on the Nat Geo WILD channel. We’d love to hear what you think of the show. Please tell us in the comment area below.

Thumbnail: Matt Beisner, host of Dog: Impossible (National Geographic/DamonMosier)  Alls Videos and photos courtesy of Nat Geo WILD.

Read more about dog behavior and training on Dogster:

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