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Home / Articles / Columnists / Dog World with Tina /  Star Quality Does your dog have it?
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Thursday, April 3,2014

Star Quality Does your dog have it?

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  
Must as there are pageant moms (Toddlers & Tiaras), thirsty for fame and fortune, there are over the top pet parents! Countless dollars and hours are invested, developing a theme and presentation, perfecting their dog’s costume, coordinating human attire and transportation (strollers, wagons, etc).

Especially over the past decade, I have witnessed some crazy antics at pet events, as contestants jostle for awards, prizes and most importantly - bragging rights. After a win, they are ready to see their dog’s name in lights. I am often asked, “How do I get my dog in a magazine, commercial, movie, or on TV?” What can you, as a responsible pet parent do, when “(insert your pet’s name here) demands their moment in the spotlight?” Listen, be honest and prepare.

Is your pet well-behaved? (ie: friendly with dogs/strangers, not a barker, doesn’t jump up, walks well on a 4-6 foot standard lead) Is your dog under your vocal command, and can be trusted off-lead?

Does your pet know and obey basic commands?

Ask yourself, if your dog will really enjoy participating in these activities? (ie: from being groomed to photographed, handled by strangers and out of your sight) Is your dog up to date with current health records and preferably, spayed/neutered?

Do you have a professionally-taken portrait (close up and full body) of your pet?

If not, call me immediately! Yes to all the above? Then keep reading. If not, you’ve got your work cut out!

Casting directors and clients do not have the time or energy for dogs who don’t know the basics. I have been on portrait sessions where I don’t think the dog was familiar with the sit command. The owner forcefully pressed her dog’s hind legs down. We did not get a seated shot, and then she blamed me. Lack of training (and/or discipline) on the owner’s part does not constitute professional failure. Not only for taking pictures, and auditions, but also for the dog’s own safety and development, the basic commands every companion dog should know are: sit, down, stay/wait, and come.

Attaining the CGC (canine good citizen) title is a good place to begin. After CGC, you may decide to continue clicker and target-training to assure your dog’s chances of being a commercial success.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A dog also needs the IT or WOW factor (a great personality) to stand out from the pack,” stated Daniel Ratte, founder of American I-Dogs. “I look for teams with mutual respect. The handler pays close attention to his/her dog’s body language. They know when their dog has had enough and when the dog can be coaxed toward success”. The use of prong or choke collars are NOT allowed, nor are retractable or flexi-leads.

The handler’s appearance and a pleasant personality can also factor in. “Owner coach-ability, and a willingness to be a team player, while not being overly competitive, are preferable”, he added.

Lights! Camera! Action! Woof Woof ;-)


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