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Top 10 Tips on Dog Modelling

15 August 2015

Dog modelling is a fun way of spending time and stimulating your pet while also earning at the same time.  Every pet parent thinks that their pooch is the cutest ever, but, does your dog really have what it takes?

It takes a well-trained dog, plenty of patience and plenty of luck. You likely won’t get rich, but you will have fun with your dog.


I own a dog, a Yorkshire terrier called Buttons.  I also have over 20 years working within the media and modelling industry personally and with my dog Buttons. Working with your dog is a great and fun way to spend time with your four-legged friend. I love the fact I have now combined my two passions, my love for dogs and my modelling and what better way than to run my own doggy modelling agency (www.urbanpawsuk.com).  Buttons is an absolute natural in front of the camera and certainly steals the limelight, but him being a pampered pet he certainly has his diva days where he does what he wants and doesn’t respond to commands, making life as a dog model a little difficult. Bear in mind that dog modelling is not easy, as they are animals and will behave like one, but good training will ensure that a typical shoot goes to plan. I find it always helps to bring along some of their favourite toys or doggy treats as a reward for good behaviour.  Thus it’s really important for you to show your pet love and affection by being a really good mom or dad, as this will help with your plan to make your pet successful. A loved and cared for pet will be far more likely to cooperate with you!

Below are my top 10 tips on how to get your dog into the modelling industry.

The right dog for the job

Has your pet a quirky feature, a certain look or a rare breed that will make it stand out from the crowd? A security company probably wants a strong-looking dog like a German shepherd or a Doberman Pinscher for its advertising campaign, whereas a luxury car company might cast a poodle because that type of dog looks expensive and luxurious.


Before you even embark on this journey, you’ll need to be sure that your dog is capable. A well-balanced dog is one that is not easily startled, shy and does not have aggressive tendencies. The world of TV is a busy, crowded and very noisy one. Your dog needs to be able to cope with all the sudden events that can occur in such an environment. Assess whether your dog is able to be taken to a variety of places and is tolerant of strangers but doesn’t actively seek them out. Some dogs are naturally this way, while others may take a bit of socialization work.

Be honest in your assessment of your dog’s personality. If your dog is naturally uncomfortable with new things, encounters or situations, then going to sets and getting thrown into unfamiliar situations will create a great deal of stress for him/her. It may result in her snapping, running away or even putting your dog or people at risk, so don’t overlook any potential personality problems, however small. If it’s not fun for your dog, don’t do it.


2. Assess your own suitability

This isn’t just about your dog! It’s about you also. Firstly, are you available to be called up at short notice, any time, to provide your dog’s services for a film crew, casting call or fashion shoot? Second, if you are allowed on set are you happy to spend hours hanging around a film set, potentially not doing much while your pet is working? Or will your dog respond to commands without you present? Would you be okay if asked to help another dog owner on set, handling a strange dog? You’ll need to be able to keep your dog happy during such a time too. Other factors to consider, are you willing to set aside money, time and resources to do this? There will be costs involved, including canine equipment, obedience lessons, quality food and transportation. And last but not least, are you absolutely clear that this is usually not a pathway to riches? If you are in this for the money then this may not be the right career choice.


3. Training

Your dog needs to be well-trained. No photographer is going to put up with a dog chewing a doggie jacket and peeing on the doggie bed. Photographers are there to do a job. Having to deal with a dog that barks at every person who enters the room or won’t sit still can be enough to drive them crazy. Having a properly mannered dog can go a long way to putting you and your dog on good terms with photographers. Your dog needs to be able to hold a sit down and respond to basic commands. If you really want to get good at dog modelling, train your dog to do very specific commands. These will come in handy when a photographer is working to get just the right look. Some obedience schools offer modelling classes, and while these aren’t required, it is a great way to learn what the professional dogs learn. The more they’re able to respond to tricks and signals, the better off you are.

The style of training can be agility, obedience, conformation, or anything that interests you and your dog, provided that it results in a well-trained dog who exhibits good behaviour at all times. Whichever style of training you choose, do it consistently, regularly, and in as many places as possible to ensure your dog responds reliably. On-leash, off-leash, different settings and distractions. Concentrate on ensuring that your dog responds really well to commands and cues. Your dog’s ability to listen, respond, and perform on the spot is what counts on set.



4. Socialize your dog.

Socialization is not just about your dog getting along with other dogs as taught in basic obedience classes. A talented dog needs to be comfortable with (and absolutely unfazed by) different environments, places, noises, surfaces, lights, movements, people including children, other animals which may include cats, and just about anything out of the ordinary. Take time to familiarize your dog with as many different situations, environments, and handling as possible for proper socialization. Try to make all new encounters fun for your dog. You can do this by always having healthy treats ready and by playing games. This can reduce fear and anxiety, as can continuing to talk to your dog calmly and reassuringly through any new situation. Once your dog is aware that you make new situations less fearful, then your dog will trust you to keep doing this.


5. Check for physical limitations.

Out-of-shape or overweight dogs are probably not ideal for film or TV work. Like people, long hours can be demanding on an unfit body; additionally, your dog may be lethargic or disinterested. The same goes for dogs with medical issues or chronic illnesses. In terms of appearance, dogs of neutral colours are generally the best for filming. In contrast, predominately white or black dogs are less desirable because they require special lighting to show properly and are hard to balance with the overall scene. However, the choice will depend on what is being filmed and where (location) and sometimes these may the precise colours sought after.


6. Health Checks


Ensure that your dog has had all necessary vaccinations and that these are up to date and supportable with certificates. Also, keep flea and worm treatments regular so that your dog doesn’t have any health problems. Always maintain a healthy diet for your dog to keep its coat in good condition, weight under control and general health and well being of the animal. Without being aware of it but every time you handle your pet you are assessing its health status. A healthy animal is alert, ready to exercise, constantly observing. If in doubt always consult your local vet.

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7. Head Shots

Good headshots are actually how you get into dog modelling. Agents will put together books of headshots to shop around for clients. The clients simply go through the book and find the dog they want. The agent calls you up and you’re in business. Alternatively, images of your dog do not need to be done by a professional photographer, action pictures or still pictures can be just as effective taken at home from your phone. As long as the dog’s personality, colourings and size etc can be seen. Bear in mind your dog’s portfolio is the first impression that agencies get. This is crucial to your dog’s success and can make or break your dog’s career. Be creative and professional with it. Throw some individuality into it and make it pop.


 8. Keep your dog well-groomed at all times.

You never know when you might be called up so always keep your dog’s coat well-groomed and presentable in case of a last-minute casting call. If you decide to change your dogs colour/style always consult with your agent first as they may have a few similar breeds with a similar coat and therefore may affect the amount of work your dog then gets. Always remember your dog was accepted onto the agency books due to his original look. The use of dog costumes can also make your dog stand out from the crowd and also make him or her look very cute playing a character. Not all dogs like to wear clothes so never make your dog do something it is uncomfortable with.


9. Be Patient

Just because you have your dog’s headshot doesn’t mean the phone will start ringing. It can take months before you may get your first call. You may never get a call. And if you do get a call, just have fun. So enjoy it while it lasts and doesn’t expect to retire and live off your pet.

10. The most important detail of all…

Remember that your pet dog is a winner no matter what. They will always be the prettiest pooch and you should spoil them anyway.dog-take-1_low-620x370 

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