Dog whisperer helps get these pooches in line

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The Mastriana family, from left, Bill, Dylan, Kylie and Kimberly, with dog behavior specialist Cesar Millan, host of TV show, “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan.” The Mastriana family, from left, Bill, Dylan, Kylie and Kimberly, with dog behavior specialist Cesar Millan, host of TV show, “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan.”

MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – Kimberly Mastriana of Rio Grande won a million flyer miles from Spirit Airlines last year, but her family found it difficult to get away for some vacation time.

The family’s Chinese crested dogs couldn’t be left with someone else because they would misbehave. One of the dogs bites.

Teenager Dylan Mastriana ended up staying home to watch the small dogs while the rest of his family vacationed at Disney World in Florida last August.

Last year, Mastriana submitted a video of the dogs misbehaving, hoping to land a spot on the “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan” on the Nat Geo Wild channel, launched by the National Geographic Society and Fox Cable Networks.

Millan is a dog behavior specialist.

Mastriana got lucky. She was notified her family and the four dogs would be filmed for “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan.” The episode is set to air this month.

“It was a great experience and we were very excited when the producers chose our submission video,” she said.

In October, a crew shot footage of the family and their dogs in Rio Grande, she said.

Her family’s appearance on the show is scheduled to air Saturday, July 28, on Comcast channel 108. The “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan” starts at 8 p.m. The show is in its ninth and final season and received the People’s Choice Award for favorite animal show.

Millan gave the Mastrianas tips on having better-behaved dogs. Millan follows a particular formula: exercise, discipline, then affection. That includes making sure dogs go on walks, follow set rules, limitations and boundaries, and only give affection to the dog after it has yielded to its owner.

The Mastrianas dogs include Monaco, 6, known to bite; Venice, 4, known to be aggressive and be the dominant one; a timid and shy 1-year-old named Rome and 1-year-old called HonoLULU, a copycat. The dogs are named after places that Kimberly Mastriana wants to visit, she said.

The Mastriana family has instituted what’s called a “sniff down,” where dogs become familiar with visitors to their home. Before, the dogs would be fenced in the kitchen when guests visited, she said.

The dogs are now allowed to sniff people, which helps them not be aggressive, Mastriana said.

The four dogs are also better with walking, she said.

During the TV show, the dogs, including a neighborhood dog, were walking together in a pack within about 10 minutes. The 6-year-old Noel, a Jack Russell terrier/Pekingese were able to sniff Venice and Monaco, which calmed the dogs.

The family takes the four dogs on walks for at least 30 minutes a day.

Doing so, she said, has created a relationship with the dogs.

Mastriana also explained that her dog, Venice, would be overprotective of her when on her lap. She calls the dog “crazy-eyed killah” when it behaves that way. She said Venice would growl, shake and his eyes would get large.

She said now the dog’s aggression is “almost gone.”

All told, Cesar Millan “definitely helped our house,” he said.

“They’re much better,” she said of the dogs.

Her son Dylan Mastriana agreed.

“It helped a lot. They don’t bark as much. Or bite,” he said.

Mastriana admits that she gave the dogs too much affection.

“And I actually created the monsters,” she said.

Now the dogs are more disciplined, Mastriana said.

“Exercise, discipline then affection...and calm assertive energy is what I have learned from Cesar and it has helped me become the leader of my pack,” she said.

And soon the family will be leaving the dogs at home with a dogsitter and going to Jamaica. They also went there in January, Mastriana said.


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