Would you like to see your dog as a print Doggie Model? How about seeing your best friend in a commercial? Can your dog steal the show away from a big name celebrity? If so, show biz is the perfect outlet for your best canine actor. You may just be a curious pet owner wondering what it takes, or a serious owner who is ready to have your star born. Here you will find all the information about the training basics your dog needs, as well as how to get started and everything in between. Your dog can be the next best thing to happen in doggywood.
It goes without saying; your dog must be trained. A director or producer will need your dog to act on a command, even for still photos, so training is crucial. A dog can never be too well trained for this type of business. Your dog will need to be solid for off-leash basic obedience with distractions, as well as a strong attention span. Behaviors like sit, stay, wait, head down, speak, roll over, go get it are just a few that are used every day. The AKC (American Kennel Club) has a Canine Good Citizenship test that gauges basic obedience and human interaction. It’s a good place to start as you begin to prep your dog for the entertainment business.
If you think you have the next doggie Oscar winner but lack obedience training expertise, seek help. Enroll in local obedience classes, look into private trainers, or you can try to contact local film animal trainers that may be willing to help you.
Finding an Agent
Well, that’s easier said than done. There’s really no animal agency per say. Your dog is not going to sign a contract to work with a particular agency. This just does not exist. Although, some agencies will rent dogs to daily production work as needed. They must have the training, the look and the size that is needed for the project, just like any actor or model.
Breeds that Dominate
Golden Retrievers, Border Collies, Jack Russell Terriers, and Yellow Labs are the most used. Next on the list are terriers of all types, big and small. Scripts and print ads frequently are in need of beautiful looking mixed breeds. The competition is steep so prepare for rejection.
Sets may have frequent dogs on-screen when you and your pet will be filming. One dog may be used for eating only, while another dog must just sit and watch in a stay in command. Your dog must never react to another animal. As stated earlier your dog must be trained for distractions and your dog must be social. Use these small part opportunities to build up your dog’s resume.
There really is something called The American Humane Association Film and Television Unit that oversees all animals on Hollywood sets. Their purpose is to ensure safe conditions are provided for your dog and to make sure they are treated well during working hours.
Most directors choose dogs for their looks first. They may need a pure-breed dog or a mutt, but only what the script calls for. Your dog must be in tip-top grooming condition. Keep your future star clean and well-polished. If your terrier has a wire coat by nature, you must make sure it is not soft. Clean ears and cut nails down so they don’t make noise on set. When your dog walks you should not hear any sound from his or her nails.
Extra Important Info
Make sure your dog is super social and not scared or frightened by loud noises. Your dog must be friendly to all people and all animals that it may work with or encounter. A filming set is stressful for everyone, plus there may be lots of noises that can trigger or frighten a dog that is environmentally sensitive. Your dog must have the right personality and temperament for the profession.
Don’t forget to get your pup some good pictures. You can take them yourself or hire a professional pet photographer. Just remember, dog acting is very competitive! Make sure the photos show your dog’s beauty and personality. Create a resume for your star that lists everything they may have worked on previously. If he or she hasn’t worked yet, list training, certificates, accomplishments, skills and what makes your dog unique.
Final words of advice:
- This industry is fiercely competitive
- Looks, training, and temperament are everything
- Be prepared and committed to network, and self-promote your pet
- Rejections will come, be determined and resilient
- Lastly, be realistic – not every dog is cut out to work in show business
Good luck and here’s looking at you, kid!