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Series / It's Me or the Dog

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Animal Planet's show about owners of problem pets seeking the advice of expert trainer Victoria Stilwell. It's like Supernanny for dogs, which is no surprise seeing as it's produced by the same company.

The series has its own channel on YouTube, where it uploads snippets from previously aired episodes and, starting in 2019, full episodes of the U.K. series (many of which previously suffered from No Export for You) every Saturday. Starting in September 2019, the channel also provides "Updated" versions of previously-uploaded episodes in which Victoria Stillwell talks about her experiences training the dog, what she could've done better, and answers some frequently asked questions. In May 2021, it was revealed that the U.K. version of the series would be returning for new episodes.

See My Cat from Hell for the feline equivalent, and Supernanny for the child equivalent.

This show provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Some, such as the owners of Roxy, an aggressive bulldog. Sometimes it's on purpose, and sometimes it's because the owners have been given bad advice. For example, Roxy's owners were told to put a shock collar on her as a puppy, and spray her in the face with citronella spray, as part of "training."
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Inversion: Victoria once worked with a woman who had only ever owned cats before. When she got her first dog Niles, she treated him more like a cat, which significantly contributed to his aggression. Victoria had to firmly explain that Niles was a dog, and how he should therefore be approached/treated. Heartwarmingly, once Karen learned how to speak Niles' language, their relationship massively improved and by the end of the episode both were perfectly happy with each other.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: Victoria frequently ends up chewing out owners for feeding their dogs things they should not be eating or engaging in patently unsafe practices.
    • Likewise, failing to understand the type of breed they have. One couple wanted to train a Presa as an attack-dog, not realising that they can grow to a massive size, have a high prey-drive, and require a lot of obedience training. Add to that having young children running around, Victoria calls them out on how utterly foolish that would be. (To the owners' credit, they did abandon the idea after Victoria explained things, and committed themselves to focusing on rock-solid obedience training instead. They still have a Presa puppy, but it's not a Presa trained as an attack dog, at least.)
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Sometimes played straight with owners that use violent tactics on their dogs, but sometimes inverted in that many owners are actively trying to treat their dogs well, but end up damaging their psyches anyway, either due to ignorance of what's actually healthy for them or reluctance to discipline bad behavior.
  • Baths Are Fun: Victoria sometimes has to teach this to dogs that don't like water or bathing. She'll often use treats in the human tub or specially designed walk-in tubs for pets.
  • Berserk Button:
    • For Victoria, any sort of harsh training method, particularly choke collars or shock collars. There's also "de-barking," a practice in which the dog's vocal cords are actually cut to stop it from barking.
    • Another is hitting the dogs to discipline them.
    • She once went pretty berserk after seeing a duplex covered in dog urine and feces; parts of this home were declared a health hazard.
    • In "The Dogs That Walk Their Owners”, Toadie and Smartie would go completely nuts if they so much as saw another dog while being walked, and would immediately attack. To make matters worse, they weighed 8 stone (110 lb; 51 kg) each and were almost impossible to restrain when they were angry. They had attacked three different dogs before and their owners had to move four times because of it.
  • Beware of Vicious Dog: Victoria feels that a dog being overly aggressive towards harmless strangers is detrimental to its owners (nobody wants to come over, neighbors complain, and the mailman gets super stressed), and thus trains them to associate guests who are welcome at The House with good things happening (i.e. delicious treats).
  • Big Friendly Dog: Victoria frequently winds up showing that even "vicious" dogs can become these if properly cared for and trained, especially pit-bulls, who at their worst are Angry Guard Dogs and at their best are Big Friendly Dogs.
    • She also trains Big Friendly Dogs to not jump up and slobber on people, because that can scare the dog-phobic and/or cause injury.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: Invoked. In cases where a male owner doesn't want to neuter his dog, Victoria will ask him to imagine never being allowed to have sex in his entire life, or only getting to do it once. For dog owners who identify strongly with their pet's sex life, this is usually a wake-up call.
  • Compensating for Something: Many men on the show refuse to neuter their male dogs seemingly because of this. This often leads to behavioral issues in the dog, as the testosterone running through them drives them to assert their dominance through any means necessary.
    • Male owners tend to buy bigger dogs, as smaller dogs like Chihuahuas aren't "manly" enough for them.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: Some of the dogs she works with are extremely loud, to the point of driving their owners (and their families, and neighbors) bonkers. More often than not, the dog makes so much noise due to insecurity and nerves.
    • This was taken up to eleven in the episode "The Terrible Two." There were three dogs in the house and the husband was warned that he and/or their baby daughter could suffer from hearing loss because of the continuous barking. Victoria actually brought in a decibel meter and showed that the levels were well over 100 with one dog and over 110 with another. According to the National Institute on Deafness, constant exposure to sounds even above 85 decibels is enough to cause hearing loss. 110 decibels is about equivalent to a power saw at close range.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Averted, and one thing Victoria tries to teach owners is that their dogs are a lot smarter and able to learn new things than many people give them credit for.
  • A Dog Ate My Homework: One installment focuses on a family with kids and a Pomeranian-chihuahua mix with severe resource-guarding issues and a particular fondness for making off with paper. The narrator quips that these may be the only kids in the world who can literally say that the dog ate their homework.
  • Dog Walks You: Owners of larger dogs featured on this show frequently have this problem until Victoria demonstrates how to properly handle their pet when on a walk.
  • Edutainment Show: While there's the usual disclaimer, if you watch this show regularly, you'll probably absorb a lot about dog training.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: While it really isn't all that common, occasionally Victoria is called in to deal with a true "It's me or the dog" situation. The situation has gotten so bad with the dog or dogs that one or more of the people in the family has declared that if the situation doesn't get fixed, then either they go or the dog(s) go. This occasionally leads to a Title Drop on the part of one of the owners.
    • Many of the troublesome dogs have, however, caused wider social relationships of their owners to deteriorate because friends won't come to the house or are afraid for their children to visit (in one case, the owners' adult daughter found her family home intolerable thanks to the Great Dane that now lived there).
  • Eye Take: Victoria tends to be pretty deadpan, but when some things go beyond even her ability to comprehend, she will frequently give these to the audience.
  • Female Feline, Male Mutt: One owner had a dog named Jack and a cat named Jill.
  • Gender-Blender Name: One episode had Victoria working with a male Boxer named Zulu.
  • Good Taming, Evil Taming: In episodes where the dog is being subjected to overly-harsh punishments, they're contrasted with Victoria's much more positive methods.
  • Henpecked Husband: Often an issue when the dog's behavioral problems are the result of the wife spoiling the dog. In one episode, Victoria showed a family the hierarchy they should have with their dogs (with mum and dad at the top, the children in the middle, and the dogs at the bottom), and then showed what it is actually is from their dog's perspective: Teddy the Pomeranian on top, mum second, everyone else (including the husband) a distant third.
  • Jealous Pet: Pets that either lived alone with their owners for a long time before others moved in, or are primarily cared for by one person, can end up attacking other people in the household if they get too close to the owner they are guarding. In one episode, Teddy the Pomeranian would bite Martin, the dad, if he tried to get in bed with his own wife.
  • Mister Muffykins: Victoria gets called in for quite a few of these. More often than not, it's more a case of bad dog owner than bad dog, since many of them erroneously think their animals are too small to be a real problem if they fail to properly train them and just allow them to misbehave without correction.
    • Inverted with many of the larger dogs that appear on the show, who are often allowed to wreak havoc while being pampered to no end. And whereas it's usually the women that pamper their small dogs, it's the men that spoil their big ones.
  • Only Sane Man: Sometimes occurs in families where the dogs are spoiled beyond reason. Certain family members, or sometimes a group, will disapprove of the spoilers' behavior to no avail, until Victoria arrives. Said word for word by Ben in the early episode featuring Toadie and Smartie, two Great Dane/Lab mixes who were allowed to run riot and fed gourmet meals while the family lived on frozen entrees.
  • Pet Dress-Up: Victoria often has to point out that, unless there is a specific health reasonnote , dressing up your dog often just stresses the dog out, and makes a point to get owners to stop doing this.
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness: Some owners suffer a specific form of blindness. They've seen the show before and know perfectly well the types of methods that Victoria recommends. It's just that they need someone to come in that isn't the husband/wife/other loved one they've learned to tune out to get them to do the right thing. See also the entry just below.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Victoria sometimes has to lay some harsh truth on dog owners who just don't get it.
    • Taken to new levels in the June 30, 2012 episode "This Dog is Ready to Implode". Not surprising with a situation that was seemingly pushing all of Victoria's buttons at once — a dog that was being subjected to a shock collar (and scent collars and other such nonsense in the past), a brother of one of the owners that was coming in and teasing the dog, a family that didn't seem entirely serious with the training, and to top things off, the family bringing in another reactive dog that they were babysitting without informing Victoria in advance. Things were so bad that Victoria almost seemed ready for a Rage Quit.
  • Record Needle Scratch: "The Bully Bulldog: Pugsley" opens with patriotic music playing and the announcer stating: "The great British bulldog. Traditionally a symbol of national pride (record needle scratch, music changes to a more upbeat theme) but not this one. This is Pugsley, the bully. Treats the family home like a public loo. And he's a sex addict."
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Becky, the owner of Diesel, a humping and aggressive husky, claims Diesel's eyes turn from icy blue to red when he's angry. It's unclear whether this actually happens or if it's a bit of clever camera work.
  • Sexless Marriage: Some couples featured on the show don't have sex lives anymore because their dogs climb into their bed every night.
  • Shock Collar: As previously mentioned, these come up from time to time with owners who use them as a corrective measure for their dog's behavior and it really ticks Victoria off.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: "It, it, I, I... it makes me so angry when, and I'm not angry at you, I'm angry at the people who say 'We're dog trainers. And the way we're going to train your dog, your puppy, is to put a shock collar on it. And then we'll train it to be obedient.'"
  • Trademark Favorite Food: During the New York season, Victoria would sometimes share Kit Kat bars with the owners as a reward.
    • Paid Product Placement, possibly. The closing credits indicate promotional consideration by Hershey's.
  • Training the Pet: The whole premise is someone teaching manners to ill-behaved dogs and determine the source of their bad behaviour.
  • Treated Worse than the Pet: In "The Dogs That Walk Their Owners”, the parents would prepare elaborate meals for their dogs Toadie and Smartie — a typical dinner for them was roast lamb, carrots, broccoli, and pasta. Meanwhile, they and their son survived on cheap pre-prepared meals like frozen lasagna. Victoria pointed out how ridiculous this was and had the family prepare dinner for themselves and sit down to eat, then feed the dogs.
  • Vanity License Plate: Victoria is sometimes seen in a vehicle with a license plate that reads simply "DOG."
  • Vicious Cycle: "The Terrible Two" had a Maltese and a Pomeranian that barked so loudly and so continuously that Victoria warned the husband he would get hearing loss if he had to be around them all day for much longer. Every time they started barking, the wife would yell at them to shut up, which just made them bark more and louder. Victoria showed her that simply being calm around them, even when they did bark, would get them to respond to her mood and calm down themselves.


Video Example(s):


It's Me Or the Dog - Harvey

In the intro of "The Demonic Doberman: Harvey" from "It's Me or the Dog," we see that when Harvey's owner, Jane, takes Harvey for a walk, it's actually Harvey that takes her for a walk instead.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / DogWalksYou

Media sources: