When working with dogs in film it can sometimes be difficult to get them to behave exactly as the role or storyline asks, and anyone who has worked with puppy actors for some time is going to know this fact intimately well. Even worse, barking on-set can lead to all sorts of issues, from annoying the human actors and film crew, to aggravating the director, and even to ruining audio from a perfect take. If you’re just filming for Instagram at home it can still be an issue, you might be on a tight deadline to get out your next post but your dog might be howling away, completely distracted from the job at hand.
What can you do as a dog owner in these situations or something similar? Well, luckily, it all comes down to basic training and while there may not be an immediate solution that is permanent, there are indeed immediate solutions as well as solutions that are more permanent. Let’s start with some immediate solutions.
Immediate Solutions (The Quick Fixes)
If you’re filming on set for an expensive movie where there is simply no room for mistake, there are two solutions to get your dog to either stop barking or to prevent them from ruining the audio.
Remove Them From The Scene
The simplest and easiest tactic is to remove your dog from the area of the scene entirely. Getting them far enough away from the microphones so that they won’t be picked up – or at least can be edited out – is by far the quickest and easiest solution when you’re in a pinch. The director or audio engineer should be able to give you a good read on whether or not your dog’s barking is damaging the audio – heck, they are probably the reason you know your dog’s barking is a problem in the first place. Sometimes removing your dog from the scene just isn’t possible though, for instance, if you are on a particularly small scene or if your dog is up next. What can you do in those circumstances?
Stopping The Barking
When removing your dog from the scene is not an option, the absolute fail safe is to put a bark collar on until it’s their time to shine. This is probably a tool you should get your dog used to anyway if they’re going to be in this business for the long haul, as once they get used to the collar simply having it on their neck is enough to let them know it’s time to keep quiet. With most collars these days you can start with a collar that shocks if needed, and slowly move to a vibration as your dog becomes more familiar with the collar. You can find some good collars here: https://www.thepamperedpup.com/best-dog-anti-bark-collar-reviews/.
The More Permanent Solutions
If your dog is going to be a canine superstar, the real solution is to train them properly so that they know when it is OK and when it is not OK to be barking. This is done through a number of tactics and they all take patience and persistence to implement properly. The industry-standard these days is positive reinforcement, which is best achieved through clicker training in the application of film. The process is too long to explain here, but it’s worth reading up as it is really a great long-term investment for your doggy star. The most recommended book is Don’t Shoot The Dog by Karen Pryor.
Alice McCarron is a pet lover since she was young. She is also passionate about filmmaking. She combines the two by being a pet trainer and finishing a course on filmmaking.