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How to Get into Dog Modeling

Updated on February 4, 2013

My experience

Dog modeling is a fun way to earn some extra cash to offset some of the expenses of owning a dog. It takes a well-trained dog, plenty of patience and loads of luck. You won't get rich, but you'll have some fun with your dog.

I own two dogs, Speak and Mazie and both have done modeling. Speak has appeared in Target's Sunday sales flier three times and on the packaging for several Target dog Halloween costumes. Mazie did a photo shoot for the cover of a Target sales flier, but it ultimately wasn't used.

This lens is written from my experience of basically amateur dog modeling. We were paid, but let's be real, Speak's not appearing in commercials and jet-setting across the country. He's just a dog. A cute dog, but still just a dog.

Step 1: The Right Dog

Let's face it, your dog better be cute. Certainly everybody thinks their dog is cute and every job requires just the right dog, but more often than not they're going to want a certain look. And it's probably not an ugly dog.

Black colored dogs also usually don't make the best models because they don't photograph well.

Step 2: Training

Your dog needs to be well-trained. No photographer is going to put up with a dog chewing the doggie jacket and peeing on the doggie bed. Your dog needs to be able to hold a sit and a down and respond to basic commands. If you really want to get good at dog modeling, train your dog to do very specific commands, like step forward, put their head down, back up, etc. These will come in handy when a photographer is working to get just the right look.

Some obedience schools offer modeling classes, and while these aren't required (Speak never took them), it is a great way to learn what the professional dogs learn.

Step 3: Head Shots

This is actually how you get into dog modeling. Agents will put together books of head shots to shop around to clients. The clients simply go through the book and find the dog they want. They agent calls you up and you're in business.

That's how it's worked for us. There certainly may be other ways to get connected, but this was how Speak got his start. Once you're connected, a client may ask for you by name.

Getting into an agent's book of head shots may be the harder part. Here's where it helps to take a dog modeling class. While Speak didn't take that class, the school let anyone bring their dog in for head shots. So try contacting some obedience schools and asking about modeling classes and head shots.

You can also contact modeling agents directly. Try contacting your state's film board and asking for a list of animal acting agencies.

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog

Like Mazie, not every dog is good enough to model. Give or take 80 pounds, Mazie is a lot like Marley, a naughty, hyperactive yellow lab at the center of Marley & Me.

Step 4: Be Patient

Just because you have your dog's head shot doesn't mean the phone will start ringing. It took six months before Speak got his first call. You may never get a call.

And if you do get a call, just have fun. While we were paid fairly well, it's not like Speak has paid for all his own expenses yet. So enjoy it while it lasts and don't expect to retire and live off your pet.

Finding an Agent

Getting connected with a local animal acting agency will be helpful. We worked with Animal Connection in our area.

Your best bet for finding a local agency is to talk to a local obedience school that offers modeling classes. They should be able to help you find a local agent.

A Little Levity

If you're going to get into dog modeling, you need a little levity. I mean, they're dogs and they're modeling. How weird is that? And what better weird dog humor is there than Best in Show, the mockumentary from the makers of This is Spinal Tap about dog shows. Classic.

I Can't Get Your Dog Into Modeling

I've just told you everything I know about getting into dog modeling. Please don't contact me asking how to get your dog into dog modeling. Read the above and follow the steps. That's the only way I know how. Thanks.

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    • profile image

      Lauren 2 years ago

      this is so useful. Thanks!

    • profile image

      snugtheshug 3 years ago

      thanks for the advice. I may try to get my daddy to get me into modelling as he keeps saying he can't afford to get me more doggy treats.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Thanks!!

    • squid-pinkchic18 profile image

      squid-pinkchic18 4 years ago

      Awesome, I was just thinking this about our dog. She's so cute :) But aren't all puppies!? lol