CBS' Dogs Guru Talks Tackling the Human Factor and Cases That Are Emotional Roller Coasters

Dogs in the City, premiering tonight at 8/7c, is set to wag its furry little self into hearts CBS’ summer lineup as it follows “dog guru” Justin Silver on his mission to help troubled canines — and more importantly, their owners — in New York.

Here’s what the pup-whispering pro tells TVLine about his small-screen venture — and why it’s different than the other dog training series on television today.

On Delivering a New Dog Show |Dogs in the City is different because it isn’t so much of a technical show,” Silver explains. “There’s definitely a lot of takeaway with it, but it focuses on the human and emotional element that is behind the problems that we see in the dogs…. It’s not a ‘How To’ show.” The trainer adds that the CBS series’ unique quality is never more evident than in an episode that focuses on an obese couple with a severely overweight dog. “I actually ended up doing some personal training with [the owners] because… this was about identifying their unhealthy habits, correcting those habits and then living the solution instead of the problem. That’s always been the way I’ve looked at it.”

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On Realizing He Was a ‘Dog Guru’ | Silver says that his past as a personal trainer really “taught [him] a lot about how people ticked,” and helped form his ability to target problems within dog owners (as opposed to with the dog itself). “I’ve always had an ability to relate to animals, but those two things fused together about 10 years ago for me,” he explains. “I’ve honed the craft more and more and more, and I continue to every day.”

On the Power of Talking to the Animals | “I talk to dogs all the time, I really do,” Silver tells us with a laugh. “I speak to them the way someone would speak to themselves when they’re alone in their apartment.” However, viewers will witness the trainer having full-blown conversations with pups, to which we ask: Is he for real?! “Look, the whole idea is that [this show] is supposed to enlighten people about issues in an entertaining way. Although I don’t really have those conversations as spelled out [in real life] as I do in front of the camera, it’s like I’m just voicing what’s going on inside of my head.”

On His Favorite Four-Legged Clients | Silver says the toughest cases are always the most rewarding. “When I work with the dogs that have serious aggression problems, those are the ones I love the most,” he shares. “I kind of cut my teeth working with dogs in shelters that had severe trust issues, the ones that get put down the quickest… So, you’ll see the episodes where I’m working with multiple rescue dogs with a lot of aggression… and those were the biggest roller coasters for me, personally.”