How To Get Your Dog Into Modeling And Acting

Axle has starred on TV shows including the Today Show, The Morning Show, Sunrise, Studio 10, Pooches at Play, TV and press news pages, been a catalogue model for leading pet brands and even has his OWN wall mural on the side of a Nepean highway building in the Melbourne suburb of Edithvale. 

A definite A-lister, we talked to his owner Belinda about why she got Axle involved in media and modelling work, and what she (and he) loves about it!

Tell us a little bit about Axle and how long he has been a media su-paw-star?

Axle is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. I had him since he was a puppy and he’s now 10 years old. He first hit stardom in 2017 at the age of five with his Fidget Spinning Video and has since kept working doing a variety of things.

What made you decide to teach Axle fidget spinning?

Once both Axle and I passed his obedience school, which we both attended every Sunday morning for two years, I challenged myself as an owner to bring our lessons into our everyday living.  

Communication, trust and attention are extremely important lessons for any dog owner. Teaching Axle to balance objects on his nose involved all of this. Without these three skills I couldn’t have done it, and neither could have Axle. 

This proved to me that we both walked away from his obedience classes with valuable knowledge that you can use in many ways. Once Axle learnt to balance a variety of objects, the three Fidget Spinners were the next level in our training, as he HATES his paws being touched. However, his trust in me had made him overcome this. But, only while using Fidget Spinners!

How did you feel when his video went viral around the world?

This moment was a very emotional one for me and brought me to tears. It made so many people talk about not just Axle, but his misunderstood breed. 

Unfortunately, there has always been a negative stigma about staffies and this was a chance for all staffy owners to spread the word how intelligent, loving and loyal the staffy breed really is.  

His viral video opened up many discussions about dog behaviour and proved that at the end of the day, your dog is a reflection of the owner and it’s training.   Not just for the staffy breed, but ALL breeds.

What made you decide to put Axle forward for TV and modelling work?

I wanted to take this rare opportunity to keep spreading a positive message to everyone and, at the same time, to encourage companies to also start using a staffy in their advertising and on TV. The staffy breed was very rarely seen in any types of advertising and, I’m happy to say, that we are now seeing more and more of them being used. 

What do the both of you enjoy most about it all?

We enjoy each other’s company but, most of all, Axle enjoys the many (controlled) treats he gets when on a job.

What are some of the brands he has worked with /type of work he has done?

Axle has modelled two years in a row for Ruff ’N” Rugged and DGG (Doggone Gorgeous dog Apparel). He’s an amazing model and can smile on cue too.

He’s appeared quite a few times on the Channel 10 TV Show Pooches at Play, where we discussed and showed his training skills, talked about the staffy breed, as well as featuring in a pet-friendly travel segment about where you can take your dogs on day trips. For this, we went on a gold detecting expedition. 

We also did a road trip to Sydney to appear on the Channel 7’s The Morning Show, where he showed off his fidget spinning skills.

His fidget spinning video also got used in a Pizza Hut commercial in South America.

He frequently gets invited as a special guest to attend live events, such as dog shows, the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal and is regularly asked to be an ambassador for a variety of organisations, such as the RSPCA and more.

We also like to help raise money for charities when needed. After the  2020 bushfires we raised $8000 in 2 weeks and split that between four wildlife rescue centres.  After this, Axle was immortalised in a big wall mural that you can see as you drive along Nepean Highway in Edithburgh. 

Any tips for owners considering this line of work for their dog or cat?

Firstly, I would highly recommend owners take their dogs to obedience school, no matter their age.  There you can learn what your dog can and can’t do, and teach your dog the basics of obedience, which are very important for any job, such as Sit, Stay, Drop and how to listen to your commands.

But, most importantly, be prepared for your pet to not be chosen. There have been many times that Axle was chosen to go onto the shortlist with other dogs that were also suitable for the work. The shortlist does not guarantee your pet gets the job. Don’t ever let this dishearten you, or make you think that your pet is not good enough though.   You have to be in it to win it.  

Like any advertising or TV work, whether it be for animals or humans, the process is the same. You must have the specific look, or sometimes even a skill, that the company is searching for.   Sometimes they might want that “special something” when it comes to who and why they choose a pet. Have patience and one day your pet will be the chosen one!  In the meantime, have fun working on your obedience and bond together. 

What do you think it takes to be an A-lister?

Be 110% confident that your pet “CAN DO” what you say they can, otherwise you will minimise the chance for any future work. 

Always practice the skills with your dog. The more you practice, the better your dog and you will be when on a job. 

First impressions you leave when on a job are always remembered and the chances of doing more work for the same company are higher.

Your pet needs to be approachable, likes to be around strangers and other dogs and should be well behaved.  When on set always keep them beside you when you are waiting. Their behaviour does get noticed by those you are working with.

Be committed and able to travel on short notice. Remembering, you are representing your dog, and always give yourself plenty of time to never be late. 

What’s next for Axle?

We are in the process of writing and illustrating Axle’s first children’s book, which should hopefully be launched before Christmas.  The books will be educational and cover many topics such as his breed, wildlife and more.

You can follow Axle on Instagram @axle_the_fidget_dog and on Facebook @AXLE the Fidget Dog and You Tube @Axle the Fidget Dog