Getting your dog into television or the movies can be difficult and time-consuming, even if your pet is cute, personable and well-trained. Signing him up with an animal talent agent who has contacts and connections in the business can help. In most cases, you need to live reasonably close to the agent’s location, generally in or near a large city, but a dog who has unusual looks or abilities may get an agent no matter where he lives.
Verify that your dog is ready to have an agent before you begin looking. Hollywood Paws, an animal talent agency, advises owners to be sure pets will respond reliably to more than just basic obedience commands before you even consider looking for an agent. He should also know some on-set commands such as “go to your mark” and “go with.” Your dog must work without a leash and not be upset by the confusion and noise of a production set, and must be friendly to both cast and crew.
Photograph your dog, showing him to his best advantage. For best results, contact a photographer and have her take a series of professional photos. One should show your dog’s face well, and another should clearly show his body. A professional pet photographer may have agency connections, so ask for names when you get your dog’s photos done.
Make a video of your dog in action. Start with a few basic obedience commands off leash and then let him shine: show him performing his best tricks -- the special ones that make him stand out against the competition. Use plenty of close-ups against a background that lets your dog stand out, such as a well-cut lawn. Keep it short, no more than one or two minutes long, with a five-minute expanded version. Don’t send either of these to the agency until they request it, but have them ready to go so that you can show them more when it's requested.
Create a resume for your dog. Include any breed and health information, height, weight and any tricks or a list of what he can do, as well as any TV or movie work he's done in the past. A relevant resume can help your dog to stand out from the crowd by proving he has what it takes to work on a set.
Mail a packet of information about your dog to all the pet talent agents you can find in your city or state, as well as to agents who accept pets that live outside of their immediate area. Agents' websites have contact information and usually offer details on whether or not they accept non-local clients, as well as other audition requirements. You can also ask agents that handle human actors for suggestions and referrals to pet agencies. Scan the names in the credits at the end of movies and television shows to help you track down trainers, agents and owners, and contact them for more information on placing your dog with an agent.
Follow up by calling the agency in about two to three weeks. Ask the attendant if he's received your pet’s information and if the company needs any more information to be able to make a decision about representing your dog. Be friendly, businesslike and polite. If your dog meets the requirements of the agency and it has a relevant spot for his "type," he may end up with an agent.
Most canine actors never become stars or make a lot of money. Pets are typically rented, like movie props, rather than hired, like actors. Talk to your agent, when you find one, so that you have realistic expectations of the kind of work your dog is likely to be doing.
If you come across as pushy or unprofessional when contacting an agency, its workers are unlikely to be willing to work with you. Sending the agency an updated photo of your dog every three to six months is a good way to gently remind them he is available without being annoying.
- Rlax dog image by Damago from Fotolia.com