Dog Models: What are animal agents looking for when recruiting?
March 7, 2019

The chances are, if you’ve not been walking around with your eyes closed, you’ve seen animals in advertising.  Dogs’ faces are on TV, in magazines, on pet food, billboards and social media ads.  Man’s best friend is simply everywhere, and that’s amazing!

(Looking for Cat Models: What are animal agents looking for when recruiting?)

There is no reason why your dog couldn’t be one of those faces, right? Absolutely. We work with all breeds of dog, from all different backgrounds.  Some have had difficult starts to life, some have been spoiled rotten since being a pup but all have one thing in common, they’re very cute and they’re very talented.  If you think your dog has what it takes to step into the wonderful world of dog modelling, read on!

So, your dog can actually earn money from sitting there looking pretty? Where do we sign up?!

Once people get over the initial realisation that, yes, dog modelling is a viable option, the next thought is naturally that their dog is gorgeous and could easily be the face of that new dog food.  If Rufus can do it, why can’t Fido?

I get stopped every day in the park and told that my dog should be a model.  I know I’m biased but…

We know your dog is the cutest dog anyone has ever seen (actually, no, that would be my dog…) but what skills does your dog possess?

Believe it or not, it’s actually quite a talent for a dog to become a dog model, and those that progress on to being esteemed dog actors are few and far between.

The on-set experience is quite different from what people imagine.



OK, so what is it like?

Firstly, photographers won’t rock up to your house and take images in your living room.  Photography is nearly always done in a studio environment or out on location.  Special lighting equipment is often needed, props and background material.

Studios can be intimidating places. There can be lots of people in the room; often more than one photographer, several crew members, and in acting jobs, there will be a human acting cast as well.  Studios are often very busy, very noisy places.

My dog can handle this. Everybody loves him and he knows some really good tricks!

Paw, high five, and roll over are not things that will be asked for in a studio setting.  Think about it, when did you last see a dog give paw in an advert?  Actually, a lot of different tasks can be asked of a dog, even if it’s just a photo shoot and not a video shoot.  Rarely have we been asked for a commando roll or a high five.

For stills photography, the photographer may want to catch the dog in an action shot, for example, running or jumping.  The photographer may ask to see your dog’s paws up on a table, lying down looking sad, sitting proud and tall, looking relaxed and happy… maybe even a tail wag.

Each photographer is trying to capture the emotion from the animal they’re working with so that the picture represents the product or brand they’re working for.

Maybe your dog will be asked to drink water from a strange bowl, eat dry food, eat wet food, snuggle up with a cat on a settee… And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Your pooch has to be perfectly happy doing this whilst you’re behind the camera.  This requires patience and skill.  Think about it; you can’t stand next to Fido whilst instructing him to sit because you would end up in the photo!  In reality, you could be around 7 ft away from Fido, next to a cameraman he has never met before, and peering over the top of the lens of a giant camera.  Will Fido still sit still and pose in this environment, with you at a distance?



The dog’s welfare first.

Firstly, and most importantly, your dog needs to be calm of temperament, happy to be around a lot of people and sometimes other dogs or animals.  Fido must be confident in a room that smells different, looks different and often has a lot of loud noises going on.

And what about even getting to the location? Is your dog happy travelling? Would your dog cope with a two-hour train journey to get to the location? Would you drive your dog to the shoot?  Will your dog be properly secured in the car? Will the journey stress out your dog?

We would never want to put an animal in a position where they weren’t entirely happy. Fido’s welfare and happiness will always come first, so if any of this would be too much for him, we don’t recommend modelling as a career.

OK, I think Fido will be fine with this all of this.  We train him regularly and he is a relaxed, happy dog.

This is music to our ears.  Next, can you tell us what skills Fido has?  We know that the highest skilled dogs get the most work.  The dogs that have that extra training so that they can follow commands easily from a distance regularly get picked for jobs.  Producers and photographers want to work with dogs that are confident, reliable and most of all, happy.

Dogs with basic obedience (sit, stay, down, lay, wait, speak) are suitable for modelling.  The more advanced dogs are suitable for acting in films and TV commercials. Sometimes, dogs are asked to perform to hand movements only and without voice commands, so that their human cannot be heard or seen from behind the camera.

Sometimes, the skills they must have for a particular advert are huge.  We know dogs that can skateboard, surf, dance and perform intricate trick routines.  We’ve seen it all!  Often, a producer for an advert cares less about what the dog looks like and more about the abilities he or she has.

I think I understand it a bit more now.  Fido is very obedient, he’s got skills and he’s a good-looking chap!

Brilliant.  We would love to add Fido to our books.  Here’s what you need to do next to get an agent:


Send us four or five pictures of Fido that represent his personality

These pictures don’t need to be from a professional, but you should think about how your picture looks. Casting agents, photographers, producers and many other people will be looking at the pictures you send.

  • Think about what’s in the background of your picture. We like to see pictures of your dog in the home, but we don’t want to see a pile of dirty washing in the background!
  • We don’t care how good you look in the picture with Fido, we don’t want you to be in the picture with Fido at all! Fido is the star here, not his human.
  • Pictures of Fido asleep aren’t helpful to us. We can’t see his eyes and we can’t see his whole body.
  • Do you really want a lot of people to know what your bed linen looks like? If not, maybe don’t send us pictures of Fido asleep on your bed.

Pictures with a filter aren’t appropriate. We need to see how Fido looks naturally. It’s no good if Fido has red hair in his pictures, but when he shows up to set, he naturally a sable colour.

Send us a video showreel of Fido in action

Let’s see Fido’s tricks from a distance. Get your friend to help you shoot this video so you can concentrate on the action with Fido.

  1. Think about what skills might be asked of Fido in a studio setting.
  2. It’s helpful for us to see basic obedience without a person in the shot.
  3. Try and capture Fido’s best skills; if he can safely jump a hurdle on command, we want to see it!


Send us a paragraph or two about Fido’s personality

Let’s get to know him – what’s unique about him? What kind of temperament and personality do they have?

  1. Has he won awards?
  2. Has he helped you when you’ve been sick? Is he super intuitive?
  3. What’s the thing you love about him the most?

Send us a list of the skills Fido is confident with from a distance of 7ft or more.

  1. Think about the skills Fido has that might be appropriate on a film set.
  2. What skills can he do on command?
  3. Can Fido perform these skills outside of the home and in strange environments?


Is there anything extra we should know about your dog?

  1. Is he allergic to any medication or food?
  2. Can he work with female dogs, but not other males?


Now we know about Fido, what about you? You need to take into consideration the following:

  • Filming will not be in your home. You will probably have to travel to a location that you’ve not been to before.  This could even be in a different city.  Are you prepared to travel?
  • Filming doesn’t happen on weekends. It happens within working hours, during the week. If you work during the week, maybe this isn’t for you.
  • Filming is often requested with less than 48 hours notice – will you be able to get time off work?
  • You have to pay your travel costs in advance, though they will be reimbursed when your payment comes in.
  • You have to keep up good communication with your agent; let us know if you’ve moved address, if Fido gets ill, or if he’s happy being a family dog now and doesn’t want to work any more.
  • Payment for work can sometimes take up to 60 days. Are you prepared to wait?
  • Are you good at keeping a secret? We’re often not allowed to disclose who we’ve worked with and for what product until the advert goes out in the public domain.
  • Do you have a performing animal license? All animals that work now require a license.  You can inquire about this with your local council.


OK, you’ve cracked it.  There was a lot more to think about than you first imagined, wasn’t there?  Well, if you’ve got this far we’re glad you’ve stayed with us.  This means that Fido and his owner are very special indeed and we’d love to talk with you more about your wonderful doggy.

Please look at the become a member page, get in touch we can answer your questions.  We’re happy to help.  We LOVE all animals, and yes, Fido is the cutest puppy we’ve ever seen, so let’s get to work!!!