What are the key characteristics a dog needs to have to work in the industry?
Dogs are chosen as extras for all sorts of reasons. The advertiser will have a particular look that they have in mind to represent or accompany their product. It actually doesn’t matter how beautiful your dog is to look at, in fact sometimes I’m even shocked by their choices!
As an example, we were asked for the “ugliest dog” that was registered with us for an RACV tv commercial, so little Leon was chosen and played the part of Jezabel. Sometimes specific breeds are requested, for example, we were asked for three Huskies for a music video clip for the band “Something for Kate”.
Small white fluffy dogs used to be very popular, but the demand has shifted recently to one that focuses more on either humorous characteristics or stock stand ones. French Bulldogs are popular for their funny little expressive faces, whereas Golden Retrievers are often used for standard family dog roles.
Basic training is a necessity but extensive training is preferred. Most jobs only require basic training, but some clients request dogs that are able to do specific tricks.
Where would you start? So would you go to a talent agency, would you go to a dog trainer, get a photo book made up etc?
The first step is to ensure your dog has basic training skills, which should have started with puppy school. Thankfully, more people are choosing to save rescue dogs now, so you may need to put in the training yourself, or take it to dog training classes. You would then need to approach an animal talent agency by emailing them at least six good quality photos of your dog, clearly showing their face and body. Some dog owners have professional photos taken, but this isn’t necessary as the advertisers are looking at the qualities of the dog, rather than the quality of the photos. Detailing their level of training and any particular skills is a good way to market them. Providing further information like how well socialised they are with other dogs, and also with children, is very important.
What kind of work load is typical, and what is the “hardest working/ highest earning” dog in the industry? And what would you, as the owner, be putting in work wise?
Some dogs strike it lucky and are chosen for jobs regularly, but others may take a little while to score their debut role!
The more popular dogs can have work every month or so. Our hardest workers are a Jack Russell and a Cocker Spaniel.
The owners don’t need to be present on shoots, but it is preferred, as dogs are always more relaxed with them present. It also makes my job as a dog wrangler a lot easier as the dogs are far more calm and co-operative. Jobs vary from a 1 hour shoot, to a 4 or 8 hour shoot, sometimes 2 days in a row.
Occasionally a travel allowance and accommodation are provided if the owner lives a long way from the shoot location. Most dog owners are very enthusiastic and keen to be on the set while their dog is working.
Depending on the dog’s role, the owner is usually required to arrive with a clean, bathed dog. I’ll often ask them to postpone their dog’s breakfast until they arrive on set, that way treats can be more enticing to achieve the desired outcome!
Are there any good tips for those curious about giving it a try?
The best tips I would suggest if you’re wanting your dog to work as an extra is to put in the effort with basic training. Ensure your dog is well socialised with other dogs, and can be trusted off lead to come back when called. They should also spend time around children to ensure they would be comfortable working with children on a set. Regular walks are important so they’re in good physical shape; they should be fed a healthy diet and be well groomed. The owner needs to be aware that shoots can be done at all hours, so they need to be fairly flexible with their availability in case their dog is chosen for a job at short notice, or have their dog available for us to pick up from their home.
What mediums can dogs work in? So print, tv, movies etc.
Dogs can be used in many different areas of the media – tv commercials, feature films, pet food packaging, billboards, magazine articles, fashion catalogues, music video clips, educational films, or even function props like a horse for a wedding.
If you would like to register your pet for animal extra work, please email 6 clear photos to email@example.com
For more information visit Fionas website www.caninewalkers.info
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