How To Become A TOP DOG MODEL by Jo Jo Harder
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~by Jo Jo Harder



 Welcome to the world of top dog models, prolific pampering, canine couture, best paw forward training, and lifestyles of America’s Top Dog Models ®. Complete with stunning and glamorous full-color photos, How to Become a Top Dog Model (April 2012) sheds platinum light on the world of modeling for four-legged members of society. 

It’s the perfect guide for pet parents who are contemplating the canine modeling industry. Whether it’s the runway, movies, magazines or television, readers will have valuable information and an honest approach to launching their Diva Dogs modeling career.

How to Become a Top Dog Model includes information on types of canine modeling, what it takes to be a top dog model, how to get started and stay on top. Expert advice is included on where to look for modeling jobs, how to find an agent, and create tools of the trade.

Needless to say, a top dog model must be well trained. Thus a section on this subject is provided for well-behaved four-legged ladies and gentlemen to make a fabulous impression, whether strutting down a runway or being featured in a television commercial.

What self-respecting Diva would turn down a day at the spa? From a beauty parlor makeover to a pampering bath, stress relieving massage, and pedicure for pets, top dogs deserve the best treatment. Whether at home, or at a spa, top dog models must always be well groomed.

Meet America’s Top Dog Models ® and find out how they got to the top and why

they are dogs that make a difference ™.

Readers will value the bonus section featuring 240 international resources, including: canine couture, training references, model and talent agencies, top dog designers, photographers, spas, magazines, and much more. 





Chapter One

From Wags to the Runway

Chapter Two

Types of Dog Modeling

Chapter Three

Dog Modeling Agencies

Chapter Four

Best Paw Forward Training

Chapter Five

Top Dog Grooming

Chapter Six

What it takes to be a Top Dog Model

Chapter Seven

How to Get Started and Stay on Top

Chapter Eight

Meet America’s Top Dog Models ®




The whole world has gone to the dogs! They are everywhere…on television, films, magazines, newspapers, catalogues, brochures, billboards, retail stores, fashion shows, advertisements, contests, on… and… on!

I grew up with dogs and have always loved them unconditionally. They have loved me unconditionally too! Especially, my miniature Greyhound Romeo, who is my total inspiration for life on four legs!

The fashionable life on four legs got my attention, and it prompted me to combine my experience as a fashion designer, stylist, and writer, to create the first complete style book for dogs, entitled Diva Dogs: A Style Guide to Living the Fabulous Life! It was published in 2008 by BowTie Press.

While writing Diva Dogs, I thought it would be fun to do a contest, along with the book, so that people everywhere can celebrate this incredible union we have with our canine companions. Thus I created America’s Top Dog Model ® Contest on my website at: Each year, one national winner and eleven finalists are featured in America’s Top Dog Model ® calendar, on a national magazine cover, and they also receive fabulous prizes! Many contestants are featured in my book Diva Dogs, as well as How to Become a Top Dog Model.

In January 2012, America’s Top Dog Model ® launched its eighth national contest! During the many years of organizing this annual contest, I received numerous emails from around the globe! A majority of the inquiries consisted of this question:

How can I get my dog into modeling? And due to this pawpular question, I decided it was time, and certainly fitting, to write this book! I combine not only my expertise as a fashion designer, stylist, and writer, but also my experience as a former model, to create How to Become a Top Dog Model, the first complete canine modeling guide.

Many of America’s Top Dog Model ® winners and finalists have launched successful modeling careers through the national contest. Their success stories are revealed in this book along with everything a dog parent needs to know about launching their pooches modeling career. After reading the entire book, decide if your Diva Dog has what it takes to be the next top dog model!

Chapter 1 – From Wags to the Runway

Is your dog cute? Let’s face it, everyone thinks their dog is cute! But let’s get real! Every dog modeling job requires just the right fit! That’s the difference between a dream and reality!

Dog modeling is a fast-growing, constantly changing, and consistently exciting, Field! It can also be demanding, frustrating, tiring, and discouraging. Yet it remains a diva dog‘s (and dog parents) dream!

Every logical indication points to the fact that the pet industry will continue to grow worldwide. This will, in turn, stimulate the dog modeling business.

•   According to the 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, 62% of United States Households own a pet, which equates to 72.9 million homes.

•   In 1988, the first year the survey was conducted, 56% of United States households owned a pet, as compared to 62 % in 2008.

•   America’s love of dogs is indicated in the annual growth in spending on food, care, and other supplies, estimated at over $50 billion.

National Pet Owners Survey Estimated 2011 Sales within the U.S. Market

For 2011, it estimated that $50.84 billion was spent on our pets in the U.S.

Estimated Breakdown:


$19.53 billion

Supplies/OTC Medicine

$ 11.4 billion

Vet Care

$14.11 billion

Live animal purchases

$ 2.15 billion

Pet Services: grooming & boarding

$ 3.65 billion



Dogs rule! We love them, pamper them, dress (some of) them, and take them wherever we go! They are an integral part of our family. That’s why it is no surprise to find the increased interest in canine products.

The pet industry continues to show a promising future with canine fashions steering future growth. Pampering our pooches range from purchasing canine couture, luxurious collars, stylish carriers, fine jewelry, awesome accessories, and a variety of delightful, grooming products.

Adding fuel to this booming industry is a long list of canine fashion designers, retailers, magazines, movies, and television commercials, all which “feed” the dog modeling business.

The growth of advertising agencies, low-cost video equipment, and the increase in dog trainers, has pawsitively influenced the dog modeling business as well.

Education is the key! Learning all there is to know about the pet modeling business will help dog parents decide if it’s worth their time and effort. If you dream of your diva dog becoming a model, this is the book to read…and read again.

It is important that dog parents take notice of how your pooch‘s behavior while modeling. Most dogs enjoy being in the “spotlight,” but if you see that your dog is not having a good time, then its best not to pursue modeling. Your dog’s welfare comes first!

Do not expect to get rich from dog modeling. There is the potential to make enough money to cover pet expenses, and a little extra for your enjoyment. Few dogs become super stars! Dog modeling is a profession that allows you to have fun with your dog, sharing exciting times, and make extra money along the way.



Chapter 2 – Types of Dog Modeling

Dog modeling is divided into four major classifications:

1.  Fashion Modeling

2.  Print Media Modeling

3.  Motion Media Modeling

4.  Promotional Modeling


Fashion Modeling

The Linda Higgins “Lille” dress that your diva dog is wearing is to die for! She glides down the runway with her nose in the air and best paw forward, knowing that she belongs in this dress! There are cameras, light, action, and the endless applause for the dress, but it’s also for your pooch’s top dog modeling skills. Then it’s back to the dressing room, for a quick change, a brisk brush, accessories, and return to the spotlight with calm, elegance.

Your diva dog has just participated in a major fashion show, the most glamorous phase of fashion modeling.

Canine fashion modeling has three subdivisions.

1.  Fit Modeling

2.  Market Week

3.  Fashion Shows

Fit modeling is when canine designers hire dog models for fittings of their new fashion line. The dog model must stand patiently while the designer shapes her (or his) latest collection. Models must be the exact size in which the designer wishes to work. This is the simplest form of modeling, and the pay is low, if any. Most designers offer clothes or a discount as compensation. However, it is an opportunity to get your dog’s “paw” in the door!

Market week is a time when manufacturers, designers, and distributors show their latest creations to buyers. In the pet industry, Market Week is known as Pet Fashion Week, Pet Fair, Pet Expo, and the Trade Show.

During Market Week, dog models are on duty in exhibition booths, hotel suites, or on the runway, modeling fashions by the visiting designers, distributors, or manufacturers. Market Week models work long hours and have many changes of clothes. The pay is not high, but the model receives plenty of exposure, and possibly clothes.

Fashion has “gone to the dogs,” with canine models around the world, strutting their stuff on the runway. Often, doggie fashion shows are charity events, where canine fashions mirror human trends.

Most dog models are not compensated for participating in a charity event. In non-charitable events that do involve pay, the dog model is hired through an agency, where the fee is negotiated between the client and the agent.


Print Media Modeling

Imagine this! You and your diva dog are on location in St. Petersburg, Florida, shooting a series of fashion photos that will appear in Bella Dog Magazine. You are sitting on the dock of Tampa Bay, enjoying the sunshine. Life is good!

Or, your top dog model might be wearing a fur coat and panting under hot lights in a small photo studio, trying to remain calm and attentive after an hour of posing!

Both assignments are examples of print media modeling, which includes the following four categories:

Top Dog Model Trixie, knows how to work it, and be seen!

1.  Magazines and Newspapers

2.  Catalogues and Brochures

3.  Advertisements, Billboards, and Posters

4.  Product Packaging

Magazines and newspapers look for both a fashion and commercial look. Examples of dogs with a fashion look include breeds such as the Afghan hound, American Cocker Spaniel, American Water Spaniel, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Poodle, Dalmatian, Greyhound, Yorkshire Terriers, and many more exotic types. Dog breeds with a commercial look include: West Highland Terriers, Pugs, Labrador, Collies, Golden Retrievers, Boxes, Beagles and Saint Bernards.

Dogs that appear in magazines and newspapers are hired through animal model and talent agencies or by the editor. Your dog could make $200 for a day of print modeling. Supermodels like Moonie, who appeared in Legally Blond, commands $1,500 a day!

It is interesting to note that being selected as a cover dog for a magazine usually follows the same procedure as an editorial assignment and pays little more. However, the prestige from a cover credit is definitely more desirable.

Catalogues that feature dog models are distributed by major pet supply companies including Pet Edge, Orvis, G.W. Little, Fetch Dog, and In the Company of Dogs. The use of dog models in catalogues has entered other fields such as car, boat, and gift catalogues for people.

Dog models are featured in brochures to promote local and national businesses and to build confidence in the company marketing the product. Photos of dogs create a receptive consumer response and an emotional connection.

Canine talent agencies usually place models in national catalogues and brochure, and the pay is negotiated. Local companies that print brochures most often photograph their own dog or the pet of someone they know.

Except for fashion modeling, almost all dog modeling assignments are likely to come directly or indirectly from advertising agencies. Therefore, it is very important to learn as much as possible about this specific organization.

Advertising agencies spend billions of dollars annually to promote their clients’ product or services. Many advertising agencies have grown so large, that there are many functions and job titles. The people most likely to be important to dog modeling are the following specialists:

1. The Account Executive works directly with the client. This person’s job is to coordinate the many functions of the agency, to produce a complete marketing program which meets the marketing objectives of the client. The account executive usually doesn’t select the models, however, she (or he) might make suggestions. To encourage the account executive to say favorable things about your dog, always be a professional while on assignment.

2. The Art Director is responsible for the visual part of an advertisement, once the creative idea has been formulated, presented, and approved by the client. It is usually the art director’s responsibility to decide which model or models to use for all print media advertising. Your dog model’s effectiveness in front of the camera could result in repeat modeling assignments at the suggestion of the art director.

3. The Copy Director along with his copy writing team, writes the material for magazines, and newspaper ads, television commercials and various promotional pamphlets. The copy director seldom has direct contact with the model, but what they write about your dog model is important. Therefore, as a professional dog model, it is your pooch’s job to inspire the copywriter.

4. The Director of Publicity assists clients in getting “free” news space or columnist comment in newspapers and magazines, as well as television and radio. The director of publicity hires models for publicity photos, featuring the product or service, she (or he) is attempting to promote.

5. The Creative Director serves as a link between the various creative departments. The responsibility of the creative director is to assure all advertising and marketing campaigns are smoothly integrated in respect to timing, message, and mood. In order to ensure the same model is used in all phases of the campaign, the creative director or assistant has taken over the hiring for some agencies.

6. The Casting Director is often found in large advertising agencies where the search for models is a full-time job. In very large agencies, the casting director has up to five assistants, who constantly recruit new talent and carefully evaluate the work of existing models, whom the agency has already engaged.

Other areas of advertising that hire dogs models are billboards and posters. More and more dog modeling assignments result in billboard and poster advertising.


This book is lovingly dedicated to My Top Dog Model, Romeo




Jo Jo Harder is an author,a  fashion designer,a  stylist, a former model, and is the creator of America’s Top Dog Model® Contest ( which originated in 2005. Harder’s clothing lines were sold in Nordstrom, Marshall Fields, Henri Bendel, Fred Segal and many other fine stores. Her first book Diva Dogs: A Style Guide to Living the Fabulous Life was published by BowTie Press in 2008. Jo Jo currently resides in fashionable, Boca Raton, Florida.


How to Become a Top Dog Model By Jo Jo Harder

ISBN: 978-1620954195 - $9.99


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