Busta’s Move: How to Get Your Dog in a TV Commercial

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Ever been told that your dog should be on TV or in a commercial? Different dog breeds appear in commercials, movies or in print but there are some particular characteristics dogs need to have to work in the modelling industry.

Local dog Busta has appeared in a TV commercial. We interviewed his owner Bek to understand what’s involved in getting your dog into the animal talent industry.

Thanks Bek for taking the time to answer questions about Busta’s experience.

Tell us about your dog

Busta is a Koolie x Irish Wolfhound which is an unusual mix. He definitely gets noticed a lot when we are out and about as he looks very unique and I get asked all the time what he is. He has more of the Wolfhound look about him, with a beautiful shaggy coat, scruffy face and beard, and big brown eyes.

I got him from Dog Rescue Newcastle when he was a puppy, and he is now almost four years old. Irish Wolfhounds are known for being gentle giants, and he is no exception – he’s a big softy!

How did your dog end up in a commercial? What commercial was it for? 

As Busta is so unique, someone at a dog park commented to me that he should be on TV. He does get noticed a lot, so I did some research into animal talent agencies and found a few in Sydney that represent dogs for advertising work. I signed him up with Animal Extras Talent Agency which was an easy process – submit photos, breed and behaviour information, and pay a small annual fee.

He didn’t get many casting calls, until towards the end of the first year he was signed up. The ad was for Nexgard Spectra and was being filmed in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We travelled down for the day and spent a few hours filming our scene – which ended up being a few seconds in the ad. See him at 14 seconds in, jumping for the ball in all his shaggy glory!

How did you celebrate your dog’s showbiz debut?

The commercial took over six months to be released after we filmed, so I had kind of forgotten about it by then. It was a nice little surprise to see it pop up on TV one day!

We didn’t do anything particular to celebrate, but Busta did get some new treats to enjoy with some of the money we made from the commercial.

Is there particular characteristics that dogs need to be cast as talent?

It’s important that your dog is well behaved and can follow commands. You know the saying – never work with animals or children! Luckily for me, Busta is very obedient and I can trust him to be off the leash, and he has great recall. He’s also ball obsessed, so it helped that his acting task was to catch a ball in the park! He was a very natural talent when it came to doing that.

From what I have seen they do tend to go for dogs that are more mainstream, i.e. Golden Retrievers and Labradors. Busta is quite unique so he only got one casting call in the whole year we were signed up, but it was still worth it to have his two seconds of fame, and just a fun and unique experience overall. 

How much can a dog earn for appearing in commercials or TV show?  

It really varies depending on who the client is, and whether it’s work for TV or print. It could range anywhere from $30-$100 per hour (at a guess).

It can be good money, but you also need to factor in travel time and waiting. We did a lot of waiting on the day as the filming was running late – one risk of working with animals!

What advice do you have for other dog owners to get their pups involved in commercials or other filming opportunities?

It’s really easy to sign up. Most importantly, your pup needs to be well behaved.

Most of the work is in Sydney, so you have to consider whether it’s worth it. If you do get called, you will most likely have to take a day off work and factor in the travel time, so that’s something to consider and does require commitment.

The experience was fun but also very tiring for Busta, and tiring for me travelling to Sydney and back in one day. I did really enjoy seeing how it all works behind the scenes, and the outcome when the commercial aired.

What’s next for your dog’s career?

When Busta’s annual membership was up, I decided not to sign him up again, mostly for the fact that I don’t really have the time to be travelling to Sydney for the work. Plus, I was happy with his two seconds of fame, and I’m sure he couldn’t care less!

For now, we are just enjoying all the great dog parks and outdoor spaces in Newcastle. Busta is living the high life, currently taking over the couch and loving having me working from home.

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