The Pet Directory - Dog Articles -Training Animals For Television

Interviewed by Craig Moore
As published in The Pet Directory QLD, WA & NT Edition

Whilst driving through the serene Tasmanian countryside, renowned animal trainer, Steve Austin took time out to discuss the amazing world of animals on television. Steve is one of Australia’s most noted Animal Trainers. He has been involved in the media for a number of years and has was featured on “Harry’s Practice”. He is the National Trainer for the Australian Quarantine Detection Dog Unit and is training dogs for the Japanese Quarantine Department and the French Quarantine in Caledonia. Steve also trains animals for Warner Bros. and Movie World. Steve was President of the Pet Industry Association Australia (PIAA), a licensed Judge with the Australian National Kennel Control, Training Director of Hanrob Pet Care Centre and advisor to SUPERCOATTM.

I asked Steve what makes a good animal actor
“Most people believe as long as a dog for example, is cute, pretty, and has a shiny long coat, that it is destined for a successful television career.” According to Steve, the criteria to be a successful animal actor are:

“With dogs, there are 4 main criteria I look for in determining a potential star:
1) Is the dog well trained?
2) Is the dog well socialised?
3) Can the dog be handled by a man, woman and child? 4) Is the dog comfortable around loud noises?
The dog must be able to stay, come and retrieve. It must also be able to bark on command and move from one spot to another. This must all be performed within an unfamiliar environment.”

Are the animals vet checked?
“A vet must be on set, or, there must be a vet in a nearby vicinity who can arrive on the set in a short period of time.”

How long does it take to film a commercial?
A 30 second commercial can take between 8 and 12 hours to shoot.

How do you keep the animals focused?
We have to keep the animals motivated and thus it is a requirement that a professional handler is with the animal at all times. With different lighting, angles and sounds changing at all times, the handler must maintain the pose and motivation for the dog to perform throughout the entire day.

What is a “Professional Handler”?
A professional handler must be a registered professional handler and must be contracted to the production company. Their agent representative sends their resume to the Production company. The handler must be aware of the appropriate animal welfare regulations and laws. Each script must also be signed by an animal welfare organisation.”

“The handler of the animal must respect the production set and know when they can move the animal through the set. There are many issues that we must all abide which include Occupational Health and Safety. The sets we work on are usually very small and the last thing we want is a miss-handled animal running amuck and knocking over cameras.”

What are the most recent commercials you have trained animals for?
“Frontline – Featuring Dr Harry Cooper. Optimum Pet Food – A large Dogue De Bordeaux looking at the guy sitting in the chair. Sargents Pies – A Springer Spaniel under the table. Ford – The Chihuahua on top of the Ford Focus car and featuring Jackie “O”

Next time you are sitting in front of the “box” viewing a commercial with animals, take a moment and consider the tremendous effort from all those involved. When you hear a well-timed purr, or a symphony of chirps, chances are that Steve Austin has had trained these most special animals.

Steve has trained many types of animals from Dogs learning to retrieve a beer from the fridge, to a piano playing rooster. When I asked Steve to recount the most unusual trick he has ever taught, I was amazed to hear it was with a Bush Cockroach! “I had to train a bush cockroach for an insecticide commercial many years ago. Although it was quite challenging, the fundamentals are very simple.”

“I actually taught the cockroach to come on command. It works on a process of food rewards and vibrations. The cockroach is very sensitive to vibrations, so by making a vibration on a table associated with a food reward – actually encourages or entices the cockroach to move to the food reward”

Steps involved:
1) Place a cockroach under a jar
2) Tap the table just outside of the jar and leave some food about a ¼ of one inch away from the jar. Lift the jar so that the cockroach looks for the food.
3) Repeat the process and each time gradually move the food further away from the jar.

Troy Laboratories
Dowjac Bassets
Comeby Kennels
Petstages - products with purpose
Lynmar Agencies - Quality Animal Care Products -
Be active with your dog -
Byron Bay Pets & Produce

The Pet Directory

Australia's first and largest pet directory, connecting millions of Aussie pet owners with national and local pet businesses and breeders.

Pet Breeders and Businesses

Create Your Listing

Talk To Our Media Team

Get A Professional Website

Aussie Pet Owners - Subscribe!

Join our quarterly newsletter and stay up-to-date with pet related news and information.


Browse The Pet Directory

Dog Breeders, Dog Products and Services who link to The Pet Directory

Dog Walking, Boarding & Pet Minding
Dog Breeders
Dog Clubs, Associations, & Government
Dog Grooming
Dog Food, Supplements & Treats
Dog Pet Friendly Accommodation
Dog Products & Accessories
Dog Loss, Burial & Cremation
Dog Pet Shops
Dog Services
Dog Vets
Dog Transport
Dog Insurance
Dog Microchipping
Dog Training
Dog Wholesalers/Manufacture/Import/Export

Cat Breeders, Cat Products and Services who link to The Pet Directory

Cat Accessories & Products
Cat Boarding, Pet Minding & Walking

Cat Breeders

Clubs, Associations, Welfare Rescues & Government
Cat Food, Treats & Supplements

Cat Grooming & Hydrobathing
Cat Pet Insurance
Cat Microchipping & Recording

Cat Pet Shops - Produce - Online Shops

Cat Loss & Rainbow Bridge
Cat Services

Cat Training & Behaviour

Cat Vets

Cat Wholesale/Manuf/Import/Export

Bird Breeders, Bird Products and Services who link to The Pet Directory

Bird Boarding & Pet Minding
Bird Breeders/Suppliers
Bird Grooming
Bird Food
Bird Products & Accessories
Bird Loss, Rainbow Bridge
Bird Retail Stores
Bird Services
Bird Vets
Bird Wholesalers/Manufacture/Import/Export

Aquarium Breeders, Aquarium Products and Services who link to The Pet Directory

Aquarium Breeders/Suppliers
Aquarium Products
Aquarium Retail Stores
Aquarium Fish Food
Aquarium Services
Aquarium Vets
Ponds, Gardens & Pools
Aquarium Wholesalers/Manufacture/Import/Export

Small Animal Breeders, Small Animal Products and Services who link to The Pet Directory

Small Animal Boarding & Pet Minding
Small Animal Breeders/Suppliers
Small Animal Grooming
Small Animal Pet Food
Small Animal Accessories & Products
Small Animal Pet Loss, Burial & Cremation
Small Animal Retail Stores
Small Animal Services
Small Animal Vets
Small Animal Wholesalers/Manufacture/Import/Export

Farm Animal Breeders, Farm Animal Products and Services who link to The Pet Directory

Farm Animal Boarding & Pet Minding
Farm Animal Breeders/Suppliers
Farm Animal Careers - Working With Animals
Farm Animal Clubs, Associations, & Government
Farm Animal Grooming
Farm Animal Products
Farm Animal Retail Stores
Farm Animal Services
Farm Animal Vets
Farm Animal Insurance
Farm Animal Wholesalers/Manufacture/Import/Export

Horse Breeders, Horse Products and Services who link to The Pet Directory

Horse Breeders/Suppliers
Horse Careers - Working With Animals
Horse Clubs, Associations, & Government
Horse Grooming
Horse Products
Horse Loss, Burial & Cremation
Horse Retail Stores
Horse Services
Horse Vets
Horse Transport
Horse Wholesalers/Manufacture/Import/Export

Reptile Breeders, Reptile Products and Services who link to The Pet Directory

Reptile Breeders/Suppliers
Reptile Products
Reptile Retail Stores
Reptile Services
Reptile Vets
Reptile Food & Supplements

Follow The Pet Directory on Twitter The Pet Directory on Facebook