Joey at 7 mos.

Scotty at 2 mos.

This excerpt was taken from:



Published by Pitman Publishing Corporation - New York



If you care to launch your dog successfully on a motion-picture career, it is necessary to remember that he must do what he is told---when he is told.  Motion-picture producers do not like to waste time and film on an animal who is uncertain about his action.  No matter how clever a dog he may be, he will be useless as a picture performer unless his actions are under your control at all times.  New things will be asked of him in each picture; but if your dog has been well-grounded in obedience, he will learn any new piece of picture business in a very short while.

Even though you and your dog understand each other thoroughly after learning the lessons contained in this book, you can, and should, think of new things to teach him each day.  When you have the fundamental ideas of dog training, and know how the dog should be handled to get the best results, you are perfectly equipped to carry his education farther. 

If he begs by waving his paws while he sits up, cue him "Beg!"

Plan routines for him to do.  Make up a motion-picture scene of your own and have someone help you by portraying a part with the dog. Place a box or chair to represent a motion-picture camera and mark out lines from the camera to show which area is being registered in the scene. Then place boxes where they will designate entrances and exits.  Rehearse your action several times and be sure that you do not get within the lines while you are working the dog.  When you think the scene is perfected, pretend that you are ready for a "take."  Keep in mind that you must waste as little film as possible, and try to make your dog perform his part correctly the first time. 

It is well to have your dog make the acquaintance of cats, mice, squirrels, rabbits, chickens, goats and horses.  Do not allow him to harm any of them.

Let your dog ride on the back of a gentle horse and hold the bridle reins in his mouth.  Also teach him to lead a horse by the reins or by a rope.

Encourage him to lie on his side and open a screen door from the outside by clawing it open, little by little.

Make your dog poke his head round corners and suddenly draw back when you say "Hide!"

Teach him to talk by opening and shutting his mouth.  This can be done by cueing him to "talk"when he is doing a half-hearted yawn.

When he makes his bed by pawing his blankets or rags, tell him to "Make your bed!"

Every time your dog shakes after a bath, give him the cue "Shake!"

Each night, when it is time to retire, say "It is time to go to bed!"

Teach him to sit and hold his position while a make-believe tussle or other vigorous action takes place near him.

If he wipes his eyes with his paws, say "Wipe your eyes!"

Make him sit down while you place his feed pan in front of him and make him hold his sitting position until you say "All right! --- Eat your Dinner!"

Never let him eat anything given to him by strangers, unless you tell him to do so.  Test him by having a stranger offer him a bite; then stop your dog with "No! No! --- Leave it alone!"  Let him take the proffered food when you say "All right! --- You can have it!"

Make him pull back in his collar and hold it so he will look like a dog who refuses to be led.

When you want his collar, make him get it from its usual place and bring it to you by saying "Get your collar!"  Also have him get his leash.  Make him carry the end of his leash in his mouth when you are not leading him.  This will give the dog something to do instead of investigating new objects as he travels along. 

Call objects by their names and have him bring them to you.  Say "Bring me the paper!" or "Bring me a stick!" or Bring me a match!"

He can learn to follow a trail by scent if you pull an anise bag over the ground to a spot where you have hidden his ball.

When your dog lies on his back and wriggles round after a bath, tell him "Roll about!"

Tie small objects to his tail, and make him become so accustomed to them that he is not upset by their nearness.

Put funny little hats on his head, and make him wear them for a short while; but be sure that the cotton tape or elastic holding the hat is not uncomfortably tight under his chin. 

Tie him to a post with a small cotton rope, and teach him to chew it in two at your command.

Teach him to cross his front paws while lying down. When he is lying in a natural position, make him put his head on his right paw; then on his left paw; then between his paws.

Make your dog crawl under a chair as he comes towards you.  On his next trip, have him crawl round the chair.

Teach him to swim by letting him teach himself.  Throw a stick or ball into a body of still water.  Let him get it in his own way while you encourage him.  Do not throw it far until he is a competent swimmer.  Never frighten a dog by throwing him into the water when he has not learned to swim.  Even after he has learned to swim, do not tax his strength in the water.

Teach your dog to paw at a man's trouser leg as through trying to get his attention; then have him lead the man to you by pulling the turn-up of the man's trousers.

You have plenty of natural gestures which you have used while teaching your dog words.  These movements may be enhanced and sometimes used in place of the corresponding words.  Your dog will then understand spoken and silent cues.

There are times when audible cues can by spoken while directing a dog in motion-picture scenes, and then there are times when silent cues must be given.  If a long routine is necessary, while the dog is enacting his part, he can be put through the action audibly for several rehearsals; then when the scene is taken, he should be able to go through the entire action with only the words, "Do what I told you!" as you send him into the action. 

You will find when using sign-language that the dog must watch you for direction.  If the trainer does not stand at an angle relative to the action, the dog gives the appearance of taking direction.  This spoils the illusion of realism.  The action looks mechanical.

If a person is sufficiently familiar with camera angles and studio tricks, he may be able to place himself where the dog can take gestures for cues and still not appear to be taking direction.

When sitting in an audience and watching a dog work on the screen, it looks as though it would be a very easy matter to direct him in his action; yet it is a little more complicated than it appears to be.  For instance: A part in a picture calling for a dog to come in and sit down at a designated spot does not sound difficult.  Yet there are four distinct cures which must be given for such a seemingly insignificant piece of business.  The dog must "hold it" outside the set until told to "come on," then he must again "hold it" as he reaches the given spot, and "sit" the instant he is directed to do so. 

All dogs are naturally clever to some extent.  The dog who lives the life of a tramp can do as clever things, naturally, as the dog who receives a big salary at the studios and rides to work in an expensive car.  The outcast dog, "rustling" for a living, has to exercise his wits to a greater extent than the sheltered dog.  He has sharpened his wisdom by experience.  He is probably a greater self-thinker than the dog who lives in strict obedience to his master's will.  And yet the most clever dog who ever roamed the streets could not execute even a small part at one of the motion-picture studios unless the company resorted to the use of wires and other trickery.  Such a method would cost the company a great deal more than a trained dog.

Even though you have a well-trained picture dog, it is wise to learn something about the mechanics of the picture business.  You should know something about story continuity, and something about the cutting of a picture.

If it is impossible for a dog-owner to get first-hand experience along these lines, there are books available in the public libraries which will enlighten him.  The person working the dog knows his animals' capabilities better than the director, and if he understands something about cutting and story construction, he will be able to offer valuable suggestions in the way of cuts when the scenes are being taken, and be able to get round the difficulty while still carrying out the scenarist's idea.

Detail is fast becoming a well-known studio term.  Where in the past all a dog had to do was to come on the set and merely sit down in  a designated place, now they want a dog to come on to the set, pause a moment, sit when the leading man sits, listen attentively to his conversation, yawn when the man's action becomes slow, prick up his ears when the man becomes interested in something, and scratch a flea when the action lags.  In other words, they want the dog to react to the player's mood. 
The simple things that a dog does naturally are done to satisfy his own needs as the occasion arises.  For example, when there is no flea biting him, he has no inclination to scratch; but to teach the dog to do these things precisely at the moment you desire is one of the most necessary things in dog training if you want him to become popular as a screen actor. 

When a person sees a motion-picture dog act naturally on the screen, without doing any fancy show-off tricks, he may go home and think his own Fido could have done the same part just as well.  People in general do not realize that to teach a dog to act like a dog, when you command him, requires more patience and ingenuity than it does to teach him the seemingly-hard circus or stage tricks. 
To be successful in stage work, a dog should really know a great many of the lessons which apply to home or motion-picture training; but the lessons which teach physical action should be stressed for stage work.  Climbing ladders, leaping on to springing platforms, hind-leg work, and somersaults attract and hold the attention of a vaudeville audience better than the less active lessons like yawning and scratching. 
The story-thread carried through a motion picture makes the dog's action plausible, and he must be convincing in the portrayal of his part: whereas the stage action must rely more upon thrilling stunts.  A stage dog's training is not so difficult as that of a picture dog.  A stage dog learns a routine and repeats it at each performance.  A motion-picture dog must do different action in practically every scene.  When a dog is being taught stunts for stage work, his master or trainer should never allow him to lose his confidence while doing jumps or any other work where there is the least element of danger.  The trainer must time his dog's action perfectly so that he will never dread his work.

Moving-picture work taxes the dog's capabilities to a greater degree than the stage.  He must know what your every word and movement means.  A motion-picture dog, taught to play with a cat in a friendly manner in one picture, may, in the following one, have to chase a cat as though he hated it; or he may have to leave tempting food alone in one scene, and steal it from a dining table a few scenes later.  Often a dog has to tear into a picture villain and appear to maul him badly; then play the friend of the same man a few weeks later, when there is a more sympathetic role to portray.    

A dog, to gain screen popularity, must willingly submit his will to that of his master.  He must come to the conclusion that his master knows what is best and allow himself to be wholly guided by his master's decisions.

I could write volumes on dogs in connection with studio life; but I feel that I have given you the genuine essence of the dog-training business as it applies to motion-picture and stage work.  I have tried to make it possible for you to carry on with your dog's education, whether you want him to be obedient in your home or choose to carve a career for him in the land of make-believe.  The recipe has been given.  Now it is up to you and your dog.