Does Your JRT Have Star Quality?

A Jack Russell terrier facing forward head and shoulders

Of course your Jack is cute and smart and has a winning personality and spots in all the right places. But is he or she show biz material?

Could be!

Your dog doesn’t have to be a purebred to be in show business. In fact, many a marvelous mix has made it big.

But a show biz dog does need to have the right stuff. What’s that? We’re glad you asked!

Temperament

The first thing you have to look at — and you have to be honest — is your pal’s temperament. Because without the right personality, looks will only get your pup so far.

Trainability

It’s not enough to be clever. A show biz dog needs to be trainable. That means they have to want to learn. They have to enjoy learning. Is your pup very toy-focused or treat-focused? This is a good sign. If you can motivate your dog to learn a trick and repeat it, they’ll be on their way.

Focus

This is one thing a lot of Jacks excel at. If your dog is going to be working in an environment with lots of people, activity, noises, smells, and possibly other animals, he or she needs to be able to tune it all out and focus on the task at hand.

Unflappability

Show biz is full of loud noises, sudden movement, flashing lights, and unexpected things. Your dog needs to be able to face surprises calmly, without getting upset or going off script.

Patience

If your dog goes into “the industry,” there will be a lot of sitting around. They will be expected to hold position for extended periods of time. It will be boring at times. Can your Jack handle boring? Because it’s not all red carpets and Pupperazzi. Sometimes show biz can be dull, dull, dull.

What Kind of Training Will You Need?

If there’s one thing show biz dogs need, it’s good, solid training. ‘Sit,’ ‘stay,’ and ‘come’ are a good start. But if your dog has a few more tricks up his or her sleeve, they’ll have a better chance.

Obedience Training

The minimum level of training your dog will need is basic obedience training. And they need to have it down pat. To succeed in show biz, your dog will need to listen to a trainer and do what they say. More importantly, though, they will need to learn how to learn.

A lot of trainers use a clicker. Clicker training is a positive-training system that rewards dogs for completing tasks, using a hand-held device that makes a clicking sound. If your dog already knows how to work with a clicker, they’ll have a leg up…or so to speak.

Your dog should also be able to work off the leash.

Behavioral training

Beyond basic obedience, you may encounter the Canine Good Citizen program. This is a credential set out by the American Kennel Club that rewards dogs who demonstrate good manners at home and in the community.

To qualify as a Canine Good Citizen, dogs must complete a 10-step test to demonstrate their impeccable manners. CGC is often the second step after basic obedience training.

Advanced training types

Show biz dogs learn on the job. That is, a lot of times, a project will require a certain series of actions, and trainers will train the dogs in the project for those actions. But it helps if a dog is already familiar with those actions ahead of time.

Your dog doesn’t have to undergo advanced training to break into “the business,” but it can’t hurt. Even better, you can have a lot of fun working with your dog this way, even if you decide not to take the plunge.

Some advanced training categories include:

  • Agility training: This includes weaving between poles, walking across beams, going through tunnels, and more.
  • Specific tricks like ringing a bell
  • Doing certain behaviors on cue, such as yawning, nodding, wagging their tail, or giving a paw
  • Specific “on set” commands like “go to your mark” and “go with.”

Working With an Agent

All right, now you’ve determined your pup has the right temperament, and they have a basic education under their belts. Now what? You can’t just walk onto a movie shoot. You need an agent — an agent who works with dogs.

A talent agent for animals is very similar to a talent agent for humans. An agent looks for work for her or his clients, books jobs, negotiates fees, and makes arrangements. Agents are usually paid as a percentage of what your dog makes on a job.

An agent has contacts in the entertainment industry, and knows which projects are looking for animal stars. They also have an intimate knowledge of their client animals, and know which projects would be right for which animal.

What sorts of projects can an agent help you find?

An agent can help your dog to find work in:

  • Modeling
  • Commercials
  • Stage
  • Film
  • Television
  • And more!

How to find an agent

First, make sure your dog’s training is “stage ready.”

Next, have some professional photos taken. Human actors have their head shots, and your Jack will need not just a head shot, but also a full body shot.

Also, make a video of your dog doing his or her best tricks. The video should be short: two minutes max. Also make a five-minute expanded version.

Finally, draw up a resume to showcase your dog’s working experience. If your dog has none, list his or her training, as well as specific skills and tricks. Include your dog’s age, breed(s), weight, size, and other vital information.

Here is an audition video for a JRT named Anastasia.

After that, research pet talent agencies and agents who work with animals in your area. Make a list. You might consider double-checking your list against the Better Business Bureau for complaints. Send off your package to the agents you’ve chosen, along with an enclosed letter of introduction.

If you haven’t heard anything from a given agency after two weeks, contact the agency by phone. Be polite and businesslike. If your dog doesn’t meet their requirements, you can enquire about their requirements to better fill out your pooch’s skills.

Is Your JRT Ready for the Spotlight?

Do you think your Jack has what it takes? Is he or she trained and eager to learn? Does he or she have star quality?

Then give it a try! Who knows? Maybe we’ll be writing about your four-legged movie star next!

Featured Image CC0 by Krenok43 via Pixabay