I was never one of those dog moms who was a big fan of performing dogs. “It’s unnatural and goes against the fiber of who the dog is,” I convinced myself. I want to get my dog on television or maybe in print media, but how?
And along came Jaz.
Jaz, a 5-year-old Havanese, is owned by proud mom CJ. After meeting CJ, witnessing her bond in action with Jaz and how this little dog exuded happiness, my mindset on performing dogs is changing (on a case by case basis). If the dog is happy, healthy and not harmed, overworked or simply a muse for the owner (think stage moms), then why not have some fun in life? And oh how Jaz has fun.
Starting with the basics
Jaz and CJ bonded over basic training when the happy Havanese was just a pup. Jaz picked up on the basics so fast, CJ knew she had to channel Jaz’s energy further. Using both positive reinforcement and clicker training, Jaz responded and began doing basic “tricks” for family and friends.
Every day for 10 minutes, Jaz and CJ would practice. If CJ is late, Jaz becomes a “watchdog” of sorts, reminding CJ by whining at the treat counter. She’ll even start performing her “trick resume” to earn a treat. Talk about a limelight lover!
CJ did what any proud dog mom would do: Created a YouTube page for Jaz so she could entertain the world with her animal’s antics as she continued to read training books as a hobby.
Jaz’s big break came when she won an online Mighty Dog dog food contest. (sidenote: yours truly won the Mighty Dog dog food calendar cover for her dog in 2001). Jaz was one of three dogs selected to be in a commercial, web movie, and photo shoot. Jaz did so well and the dynamic duo enjoyed the experience so much, that Jaz landed her very own talent agent.
CJ’s Tips for Tricks
CJ is not a professional trainer. She does, however, have a very special bond with her dog and I’ve witnessed it over the course of a 2-day conference. So how to get your dog to be the next Jaz? CJ’s tips:
- Keep the training sessions short: 10 to 15 minutes a day maximum.
- Consistency is key.
- Reward with special treats, ones the dog does not normally get during the day.
- Always end on a good note. If Jaz is having a bit of difficulty with a new trick, CJ takes a step back and lets Jaz do a trick she knows well. Finish the session and reward for that behavior.
- Keep things positive.
- Just get out and do stuff with your dog. Go to local dog events, take agility classes, become a therapy dog team (and volunteer at a hospital or nursing home.) Find what your dog loves to do, and do it! It will increase the bond between you and your dog, and help strengthen your relationship and make you a better trainer.
CJ tells it like it is. “To get your dog on TV, find something unique about your dog and submit it to the news stations. (or local newspapers) They are always looking for human interest stories. Jaz has been on TV many times- mostly for her tricks, but also because of local events- like contests and being in a play at our community theater. I’ve discovered that the more unique the trick is, the more the TV stations like it! (Jaz’s shopping dog video has now been aired around the world- most recently in Japan and England!) The producers just write me through YouTube and ask for permission to use the clip!”
This writer is more of a print-medium pursuer but highly recommends dogs become a Canine Good Citizen. It’s a bonding experience for dog moms and dads with their pooches, but also instills confidence and positivity in dogs. Even if a dog doesn’t have the official CGC title, knowing the basic tenets of the program makes Fido a happy, confident and enthusiastic member of society.