How to help your pet succeed in the entertainment industry

 When it comes to helping your pet succeed in the pet talent industry, your dog or cat doesn’t necessarily have to be the best looking, or the most talented pet, to get the job. 

 As it is in the human acting and modelling world, it can come down to many factors outside of just looks and skills. From the breed of your dog or cat to its size, shape or age, hair or eye colour, long or short hair and so much more. 

However, no matter what the brief is, having a well-behaved pet that has some basic obedience can help your pet succeed in the pet talent industry, particularly if they can be relied upon to do what is needed under high distraction and in busy environments, which can be a challenge to many pets.

The pets that do best, and tend to enjoy it the most, are those that are well socialised with people (and potentially other animals), enjoy human company and attention, and can keep calm with lots of things going on around them: from busy crowds to bright lights, moving objects and loud noises and everything in between.  

Even if they are a little shy or jumpy though, it doesn’t mean they still can’t try it or won’t enjoy it.  My dog Darcy has severe noise phobia (due to his osteoarthritis which can make noise-phobic dogs more sensitive to loud sounds), but spends most of his life in front of cameras, or hanging around set, and absolutely loves it. 

It just means as an owner, you have to be a little more mindful about how they might react in such situations and be able to keep them calm and focused.   Plus, it’s a good idea to let the producer in charge know any potential ‘triggers’ when you get there, so they can brief the crew on the types of sounds or things that might frighten them.  

The last thing anyone wants is a pet that is distressed or shuts down because it is all too much, so being mindful of what’s going on and how your pet is feeling is vital, as is being able to keep their focus – and that’s where basic obedience can help.   This pretty much applies to life in general with your pet too I might add.  

Some of the most basic commands (note, we prefer to use the word ‘cues’ these days) that your dog should know to help your pet succeed in the pet talent industry is: Sit, Stay, Drop and Come.  If you attended puppy school then your dog is likely to already knows these, which is great, so then it comes down to working on building up the distance from where you are able to give them their cue and have them comply, to help ensure they will be able to perform and hold the position without you having to be up close to them

Putting a hand signal to each of the cue words is also an added bonus as you can use it after “quiet on set” has been called should you notice your dog or cat is about to break from its position.

Many people don’t think about training their cat basic obedience, but it can be very useful in real life and helps to keep your cat mentally and physically stimulated, just as it does for dogs, which is something all pets need.

If you are thinking that your dog or cat is already pretty good these cues, then it is important to build up not only the distance but also the distraction, practising in different environments and slowly adding more people and other animals into the mix, more noise and general activity going on around them.

No matter how much groundwork you put in though, remember, there are no guarantees that your pet will get booked,  just because you signed with an agency, and there will be disappointments. On the positive side, any training and other work you do with your pet to help prepare them for their 15 minutes of fame, can be a wonderful bonding experience. 

 Even if they miss out on a job…1) they’ll never know and 2) they will love you even more for spending time with them and engaging in activities that help to keep their brains and bodies active - so you will always be a rock star to them whether you get the gig or not!

About the Author: Lara Shannon is a certified dog behaviourist and trainer, Executive Producer and Host of Channel 10’s Pooches at Play and Editor of Lara runs her own dog training business in Melbourne’s Bayside area, is a sought after pet expert, speaker and author of Eat, Play, Love (your dog) and soon to be released Dogs of the World (October 2021)