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Dog Modeling 101: How to Get Your Dog into Modeling

Lifestyle By Kate Brunotts 11 min read February 24, 2022

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dog modeling 101

Does your canine captivate the camera? Perhaps you should think about having him become a dog model!

Dog modeling can be a fun (and potentially profitable) endeavor more and more owners are interested in pursuing with their pooch. The problem is, most owners have no idea where to start!

Don’t worry! We’ll explain everything you need to know to get your four-footer’s modeling career off the ground and share some pointers so that Spot can become a star below!

8 Steps for Getting Your Dog Started Modeling 

getting started dog modeling

Whether you’re an experienced stage mom just entering the world of dog modeling, there are some basic steps all pooches and their people will need to know.

We’ll outline the steps you need to take below, but just keep in mind that not every furry friend will follow the same path into the industry. So, be prepared to adjust your approach and be ready to think on your feet — er, paws!

1. Assess Your Dog’s Potential for a Modeling Career 

Before committing your canine to a new career, you’ll want to make sure it’s a good fit for Fido. After all, if your pooch isn’t poised for posing or simply doesn’t enjoy the extra work or attention, it’s not going to be a good experience for anyone. 

So, you’ll want to be sure that your pup has the requisite skills and desire (not to mention the good looks) to make it in canine modeling.

The ideal candidate for dog modeling is super friendly, easy-going, and comfortable in front of the camera. Your dog will also have to be incredibly obedient so that he’s able to follow your direction amid all of the distractions of a shoot. 

Also, check-in with yourself — dog modeling requires plenty of work, unforeseen startup costs, and tons of time. If it’s not a good fit for your lifestyle, it won’t be for your furry friend, either.  

2. Identify Your Dog’s Biggest Assets

how to get your dog modeling jobs

Every model mutt should have an angle or special trait that makes him unique amongst other posing professionals. In other words, you’ll need to think about what “type” of pet photography would play to your pet’s strengths — his niche, if you will. 

For example, if you have a beautiful Afghan hound, your dignified dog may excel in artistic photoshoots. On the other hand, Spicy — my cute little shih tzu mix, who has quite the endearing underbite — may be better suited for funny photoshoots. 

Try to keep an eye out for any dog photography or commercials you can find printed or online to get some ideas. Gathering a few references within your dog’s perceived niche can offer you a lot of direction in terms of what certain poses may look like, and therefore what obedience training your dog needs to achieve them. 

3. Have Professional Headshots Taken 

In order to have your barker book jobs, you’ll need some professional photos of him taken.

Find a pet photographer in your area and set the date to have a photoshoot with Spot. Just be sure that your four-footer is ready for the shoot — at the very least, he should be able to perform the commands “sit”, “stay”, and “come” before you schedule a booking. 

If you’re tight on cash, you could potentially shoot some of your hound’s headshots yourself (check out our insider list of dog photography tips for more info). However, once you book a couple of low-level gigs, try to reinvest into a professional pooch shoot.

Having great headshots looks super professional and can provide the extra edge you need to get your sweetheart into the spotlight. 

4. Create Marketing Materials

dogs being models

Once you’ve created the perfect hound headshot, it’s time to get the word out! Set up a website for him, invest in some business cards, and create a resume for your pooch detailing any relevant experience or skills he has. 

It’s also a good idea to set up some social media accounts for your furry friend — a hefty social media following can certainly be used as leverage in your canine contracts! 

Plenty of dogs have become full-fledged paid models after becoming Instagram-famous!

Try to distribute these materials at any appropriate opportunity, even amongst other pooch parents. You never know who might be the bridge between your best buddy and his next job. And obviously, you’ll want to make sure you have all of these marketing materials ready for every audition

5. Find a Canine Talent Agent

Booking gigs as an independent pooch parent can be challenging. And that’s why it’s almost always a good idea to enlist the help of a dog talent agent! These professionals connect animal talent with jobs by having a database of doggos for landing spots in commercials, film, or online ads. 

Agents are usually based around New York City or Los Angeles, but it’s possible to have a successful relationship with a remote talent agent if you and Fido are willing to travel.

Agents usually make money by taking a cut of the earnings from booked gigs, so if you’re required to pay a large sum of money upfront, it’s probably not a reputable organization

Here are a few of the leading talent agencies for pets around, but don’t hesitate to do some digging on your own if none of these fit the bill!

  • ACGS: All Creatures Great and Small is a powerhouse animal talent agency based in New York City. The agency seeks out dogs, cats, reptiles, farm animals, and even insects to work with leading brands like GQ, Madewell, and Macy’s. 
  • Pawsitively Famous: Pawsitively Famous helps furry friends connect with top dog brands like Milkbone and Nom Nom. You can register your pet directly through the site and sign up for virtual auditions.
  • Dognerd Animal Talent: Dognerd Animal Talent provides casting and media training for handsome hounds. You can submit your pup’s portfolio directly on the site and past placements include spots for Xfinity and Disney.  
  • The Dog Agency: The Dog Agency helps market already pupular doggie influencers who have gained their own following via social media. This agency is perfect for dog talent that’s ready to take their canine career to the next level with star-studded placements on Good Morning America or Netflix. 
  • Top Dog Talent Agency: Is your furball destined for the screen? Top Dog Talent Agency seeks out animal actors and models to star in commercials and movies. This Georgia-based company also provides a training camp for aspiring four-legged stars.

6. Boost Your Pup’s Skills

your dog's modeling career

In order to stand out from the canine competition, it’s a good idea to brush up on your dog’s skills. Some ways that you can bolster your best buddy’s skill set include:

  • Create practice photoshoots at home. Doing your own photoshoots at home is a great way to help your pooch practice his skills. You might also get an adorable shot out of it for your dog’s website, and it’s also another opportunity to hang out with your hound. It’s a win-win if you ask us. 
  • Consider canine acting classes. Don’t laugh — this is a real thing. Canine acting classes are very helpful for getting your four-footer used to being around lots of other people and pets, and they’ll also help him learn to take direction (not to mention ham it up for the camera). These types of classes are easiest to find  in major metropolitan areas, but you may be able to find long-distance classes, which meet via Zoom or some other meeting app. 
  • Play dress up. One of the best ways to prepare your pooch for photoshoots is to play the part at home. Give your furry friend the opportunity to wear different outfits and costumes on a regular basis, and practice playing with various toys and photoshoot props like flower wreaths, hats, etc. 
  • Keep up with obedience training. The top-performing model mutts know how to pose and they’re also highly trained in all other respects. Make sure you practice some of the most popular dog poses for photoshoots as well as your dog’s commands and tricks on a regular basis so that he’s always prepared for the next job. 

7. Audition, Audition, Audition 

You’ll have to audition a ton to get your pup’s modeling career off the ground.

starting dog modeling career

So, don’t get discouraged if you’re finding it difficult to book a gig for your adorable furry friend. That’s showbiz, baby!

In fact, many times, booking jobs can be a numbers game — you’re bound to come across the right fit if you make an effort to audition for as many gigs as possible. 

Remember that those first impressions are everything. They say that your audition starts as soon as you arrive at the location. So, make sure you and your star are on your best behavior.

Try to keep your head up and consistently audition, but just be careful not to overwork your best buddy

Every part of the dog modeling process should be enriching for your canine companion.

If at any point it ceases to be fun for your buddy, it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate your priorities and process. 

8. Be Professional for Every Gig Your Dog Gets 

When your furry friend gets booked for a gig, make sure to be as professional as possible to increase your dog’s chances of getting rebooked.

This means showing up on time, and being sure your pooch has been recently bathed and looks great.

Make sure your dog has gotten plenty of practice with any posing directions or commands detailed in the audition prep materials. You should also make sure your dog has gone to the bathroom and is well fed before stepping on set (unless he’ll be expected to eat, in which case you may want him just a bit hungry). 

Always show appreciation throughout your shoot and enjoy the process as your pooch lights up the room. 

Dog Modeling FAQs

get your dog started modeling

The world of dog modeling can be a strange and confusing place. Thankfully, we’ve rounded up some commonly asked questions and answers so that you can be a super stage mom for Spot. 

How much do dog models make?

While ZipRecruiter reports that dog models make an average of $32/hour, you shouldn’t get into canine modeling for the money. Some dogs are only part of the industry for a certain amount of time, and the amount that you earn can vary greatly depending on your canine’s career track.

Most pet parents won’t see profit from their pooches until they’ve spent months, even years investing in their dog’s image and career. 

Can any dog be a model?

Assuming your pooch has the disposition for it and enjoys the process, you bet! Any pooch can become a model!

Some dogs will obviously be more gifted in the looks department than others, but there are tons of different kinds of modeling opportunities out there. Again, you’ll want to focus on figuring out your dog’s niche and the unique things he has to offer to have the best chance at success.

Which dog breeds make the best models?

There aren’t any particular breeds that make “better” models within the industry, since there are so many different types of dog models needed. Practically any dog can find a groove within the industry so long as he’s prepared to pose and enjoys the process.

What is involved in dog modeling?

Dog modeling involves posing for video and photoshoots, which can require hours of undisturbed focus in a studio. Canine candidates will need to be obedient, hardworking, friendly, and of course, quite cute. 

Is dog modeling cruel?

Some owners worry that dog modeling is an activity that isn’t fair to four-footers. But we think that as long as your dog enjoys the activity, there’s nothing wrong with letting him strut his stuff (and make a few bucks in the process).

It’s certainly not a great fit for every furry friend (especially shy or more nervous dogs), but for the right dogs, modeling can provide extra enrichment and plenty of fun. 

Is dog modeling hard for dogs?

Dog modeling can be challenging for dogs since it can require more focus than say, a typical dog’s day of barking at the squirrels in the driveway. That being said, plenty of pups enjoy modeling work, and it can be a fun activity for the right furry friend. 

How do you find dog modeling jobs?

You can find dog modeling job auditions using a search engine, getting a referral, or through an animal talent agency. Some pooch parents find it easiest to find a reputable agency upfront to cut down on time spent scouting. 

***

While not all furry friends are cut out for the cut walk, dog modeling can be a great way to spend some extra time with your canine companion and earn some extra cash on the side. Hopefully, this guide makes it easier for you to jumpstart your canine’s career. 

Is your mutt model potential? What does your dog like about modeling? Let us know in the comments below! 

making your dog an Instagram star
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Written by

Kate Brunotts

Kate is a dog-loving content specialist with over a decade of canine-care experience. She is currently a professional dog walker and pet sitter, with previous experience working at the Heart of Chelsea Animal Hospital in Manhattan. When not spending time with four-footers, she can usually be found crafting top-notch dog-care articles that pet parents can trust. Kate loves dogs of all shapes and sizes, but Bernese Mountain Dogs hold a special place in her heart.

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