Getting Fido into show business isn't easy. It takes a lot of training to get him ready to participate in movie and photo shoots. That not withstanding, whether your pooch is purebred or mixed-breed, he may have what it takes to join the entertainment industry as a model or actor.
A canine actor must be able to perform a variety of behaviors on cue, and must have a friendly, outgoing temperament. Movie sets and photo shoots involve a lot of noise, bright lights, strangers and sometimes other pets, all of which any animal actor must be okay with. If you have a young puppy, help him prepare for show business by socializing him to a variety of other people, experiences and other types of pets. Socialization works best between the ages of 3 and 18 weeks of age, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests. If you really want a dog in show business, choosing a dog with a good temperament is crucial, and so is a training regimen.
Show business pooches need to obey both verbal and nonverbal hand commands such as "Sit," "Stay," "Come," "Speak" and "Go-to-mark." They must also perform more complicated tricks and behaviors that build on these basics. Hollywood Paws, an entertainment management agency, recommends that prospective canine performers pass the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizenship test. Keep in mind that your pup must answer your commands or those of an on-set animal handler while off-leash the first time, every time and maintain his composure even around lots of distractions. Some of your local talent agencies may work with entertainment animal trainers and can direct you to their services to further prepare your pooch for professional acting work.
To get acting or modeling work, your pooch needs a talent agent that works with pets to represent him. A reputable talent agency is licensed with your state as an employment agency and takes only a 10 percent commission of your pup's earnings. Legitimate agencies are usually franchised with either the Screen Actors Guild or the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, according to the SAG-AFTRA One Union. Avoid disreputable agencies that ask for any registration fees or monetary deposits prior to an actual job with a client.
Getting an Agent
Locate a talent agent by searching through resources like the agency listings of the Backstage website, which contains information about reputable agencies across the country, including those that work with pets. Many agencies request a query letter, a photo of your pup and a resume for your dog listing his breed, size, weight and talents. Set up a website for your pooch, featuring videos of him performing behaviors on cue, recommends "101 Ways to Do More with Your Dog." Include this information in his pet resume. If the talent agency is interested, an agent will contact you to interview you and your pet.
Talent managers can help obtain work for your pup, but they may take up to 15 percent of Fido's earnings. They aren't regulated by the state, though New York and California require that a manager work with a licensed talent agent. Before signing a contract with an agent or manager, read it thoroughly. Once you've signed, be prepared to bring your pup to auditions during business hours so he can begin his career in show business.
- Dogster: Show Business Dogs: How They Pawed Their Way to the Top
- Hollywood Paws: Animal Acting FAQs
- Le Paws Agency: Our Services
- Animal Movies Guide; Staci Layne Wilson
- American Federation of Television and Radio Artists: Animal Actors
- 101 Ways to Do More with Your Dog: Make Your Dog a Superdog With Sports, Games, Exercises, Tricks, Mental Challenges, Crafts, and Bonding; Kyra Sundance
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Socializing Your Puppy
- SAG-AFTRA One Union: Agents and Managers
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.