How to Make it as a Dog Model
Let’s face it — every dog parent enjoys taking photos of their canine companions. I bet you have at least eleventy billion photos of your dog on your phone, am I right? Whether you want to up your dog’s Instagram game or figure out how to get your dog in campaigns for big pet brands, you have to start somewhere.
I suggest you start from a place that feels the most natural to you and your dog! Have fun taking photos and discovering your dog’s personality, voice, and style.
But to try to help your dog’s modeling or influencing career catch fire, there are a few things you can do now to get started.
Invest in training
A successful dog model is well-trained and comfortable in new environments.The basics are an absolute necessity for dogs who want to work with brands or for pet parents who want to get the perfect at-home shots.
At the very least, dog models should know sit & stay, down & stay, stand & stay, have the ability to walk calmly on a loose leash, and a bullet-proof off-leash recall.
Training above and beyond these basics are what will really make you stand out. My clients and I often love to see a dog have the ability to hold something in his mouth on command, sit pretty, high-five, play bow, balance treats on her nose, rest his head on the ground or a surface, or simply have a desire to be close to her person and get hugs.
Oftentimes when we are holding a model call, we already have specific shots in mind; applying with a dog who can perform the actions we need will put you at the top of the consideration list!
Practice Makes Perfect
If your dog wants to model, you might want to invest in some gear to practice your dog’s poses and actions! Different styles of leashes and collars, toys, and clothing. If your dog doesn’t like dressing up or wearing clothes, don’t force it. Lean into what your dog does best naturally. Even if your pet has that special something that makes them shine in front of the camera, never force them to model or pose for photos if it makes them uncomfortable. If your dog isn’t happy, it’s not worth it.
Another big thing to practice is making sure your dog is desensitized to having a camera pointed at her! If she always looks away or has aggression toward a big camera lens next to her face, modeling probably isn’t her career of choice.
Build Your Dog’s Network
Once you have a portfolio of photos and videos that show off your dog’s looks and personality — whether you’ve taken them yourself (use these tips!) or had them professionally created, use them to reach out to brands or agencies. And definitely don’t forget to follow your fav commercial pet photographer on Instagram or Facebook to see when we have model calls!
Spend time engaging on social media. Dedicate time to respond to comments, follow people or pets back, and answer questions.
Connect with people offline. Once you have a portfolio and social media presence, run it by people whose opinions you trust. Don’t be afraid to take the conversation offline and meet people face-to-face.
Pro Tip: Don’t be discouraged if you don’t land a modeling gig right away. There are always factors at play beyond your control. Oftentimes, we’re casting multiple dogs and need to weigh which dogs can perform certain behaviors and which ones will provide us with the widest variety of looks.
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Be sure to check out how I find the perfect dog models for my commercial shoots.
Sheri Santucci says
Hi! It’s me, Sheri. I’m sure that you remember Vinnie. He passed away two years ago. We have a new puppy! She’s10 months old and is a rough coated Dutch Shepherd. She would be a great model for you! We’re still in pittsburgh! Sheri
Sweet Vinnie! I’m so sorry to hear of his passing. :( I’ll let you know if we come through Pittsburgh. I would love to see you again and meet your new pup!