Dog Impossible features dog behavior specialist Matt Beisner, who told Hidden Remote what led him to starring in the Nat Geo WILD series.
Dog Impossible is the title of Matt Beisner’s Nat Geo WILD series, but what he wants TV viewers to know is that no dog is impossible. With his company THE ZEN DOG, Beisner works tirelessly to help the dogs that others would consider a lost cause.
Every episode follows Matt as he works with a dog who’s thought to be dangerous, or aggressive, or have some other challenge in front of them—and he does everything he can to make life better for the dog and their owner.
Meet Matt Beisner in our interview below, then see a new episode of Dog Impossible on Nat Geo WILD this Sunday at 10 p.m. ET/PT. And if you’ve missed any of the season so far, you can catch it on demand here.
Hidden Remote: How did you originally decide to become a dog behavior specialist? How did you get here?
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Matt Beisner: I was afraid of dogs actually, is how it started. I grew up as a kid, I liked dogs, we had dogs. [But one] Halloween when I was young, we went trick or treating and I went to a house…and I was thinking at that time if a dog wags its tail that means it’s happy to see you, so I reached my hand out and the dog punctured me in the arm.
From that point on I was afraid of dogs for the next thirty years. [Then] present me was moving in with a girlfriend at the time who had a little dog, this rescue that was aggressive, and I was in the process of detoxing and so I was kind of home-bound. The dog kept attacking me so I had to figure something out. That was literally the beginning.
What made you interested in bringing your work to TV with Dog Impossible?
What we’re doing is unlike anything else on television out there that I’m aware of. It’s transformative for animals and people, and I knew that we had an opportunity to reach out to the world with a different message than what else is out there.
Was there some adjustment in getting used to working in front of a camera and making a TV show, compared to your normal routine?
There was a very small adjustment period [with] the production team from High Noon, and the oversight was really fluid. I didn’t change much at all in what we did, beyond learning how to capture it, and then once we got that understanding early on things were pretty smooth throughout.
The one thing that was really important that we did was have a safety meeting before each day’s filming, because I knew if we didn’t check things collectively we were likely to make a mistake and then somebody might get hurt.
What are some of your highlights from this first season? Were there cases that struck a chord with you?
All of them have an element of danger. All of these dogs have been deemed impossible to help [but] I think there are three that stand out. One is a dog named Lou, who is a street dog who gets aggressive anytime someone tries to put a collar on him. But the city is actually cracking down with the gentrification, and if we can’t get a collar on him, they’re going to catch him and they’re going to do what they want with him. That was unique for me, to have a dog that needed help in a way that I’ve never helped before.
The second was a dog named Whiskey, and Whiskey is a really standard story. Couple got him from a backyard breeder, didn’t know what they were getting into, and Whiskey began to get aggressive at a very young age. Their world got smaller and smaller and they were literally trapped in the last couple of years with this dog. So that was important because a lot of people are on that road and don’t know it. Seeing what happens to Whiskey is terrific.
The third are a couple of pugs, JB and Moneypenny, that I worked with and that stands out to me too because their story is similar to a lot of people’s in a different way. We’re not looking at the outright aggression or element of danger, but we’re looking at what happens with excessive affection. You get a dog like that and it’s really hard not to be really loving with the dog, and it shows how that can work against the owners and the dog.
What are you wanting TV viewers to take away from Dog Impossible, since they’re not working with you directly? What can they learn or improve?
We have an opportunity to see dogs in a different way. THE ZEN DOG’s approach and philosophy is there are no bad dogs, so if we come from that place it immediately puts us in a place of consideration, which is where I or any of us might operate from. Once we begin to practice consideration with dogs, it can open up to [other] animals. And as I’ve found over and over again, it can open up to people.
The second thing is the power of transformation that comes out of that is real. We’ll see it in Dog Impossible. I see it regularly. The third thing that I want to come out of it is that you’re not alone, there is hope and we can help.
Can this work for anybody? The answer is yes. It’s transformative for dogs, transformative for people. I’ve never seen what we do with THE ZEN DOG not work. I’ve seen dogs need more time, seen dogs need a different home, but I’ve never seen it not work. And though I don’t make any guarantees, that’s a pretty profound statement to make thousands of dogs later.
Dog Impossible airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Nat Geo WILD.