Dear Lisa: I have a cute yellow Labrador Retriever and I want to try and get him into magazine ads or even TV commercials. He is definitely a sight to see. How can I get him into show business? --Hollywood-Bound Hound in Houston
There are many different factors to consider besides just "being cute" before you attempt a Hollywood or Madison Avenue career for your dog. Having "the look" is only a small part of the total picture.
However, even if your dog is the coolest looking canine on the planet, if he is not obedience trained you can forget about the limelight. At the very least, your dog should have mastered sit, stay and come. Many trainers will work with you to train your dog for a specific shoot but knowing obedience basics as well as good manners will go a long way to landing him a modeling or acting job.
Most dogs appear on television, in movies or in print ads through animal talent agencies. Agencies typically have a database with "clients" or "talent" they show prospective producers, photographers or company representatives. Some agencies, such as Hollywood Animals in California, will register your dog in their database. Another agency, All Creatures Great and Small of New York does not charge a listing fee. But a screening process may be required before listing. Those looking for talent go to the Animal Actors Agency.
Another aspect of dog modeling you must consider is how well your dog handles stress and new situations. At a photo shoot for example, your dog may have to wait several hours before he is "on" and then be relaxed and obedient under the bright, hot lights. Some dogs can't handle this. So before you become a stage mother to your dog think about his level of obedience, willingness to learn new routines and manners around strangers and other dogs. If he ranks high in these areas, is cute or very handsome and has some talent or tricks in his repertoire then by all means get him ready for his close-up!
If you have a question, send it to Lisa at AskLisa@AKC.org and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions she cannot offer individual responses.