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  Inside Out - South: Monday September 15, 2003

PUP IDOL MEETS CANINE ACADEMY

Dave the dog with an oscar
"I'd like to thank my owner..."

Lassie, Toto and the Littlest Hobo all had to start somewhere and if you think your dog has star quality then Berkshire based stage school for dogs may just be the place to start.

Forget pushy parents sending their little ones to tap, ballet and acting classes, in today's pet crazy world, it's the four legged little ones that are training to be stars.

Katie Rourke runs The Canine Film Academy at Smoothfield Farm in Maidens Green, but insists few owners expect their pooch to be the next big thing - for most, it's just a bit of fun.

The Academy offers three levels of classes starting with Explorers. This class goes back to basics with commands such as sit, stay and heel - perfect for even most shy and retiring pup.

A moment on the lips…

Dave the dog in front of a gramophone
Strike a pose - Dave recreates this familiar image

A handful of treats for good behaviour soon adds up, so instead the academy uses clickers to reward good behaviour - a method originally used to train dolphins.

Once your dog has mastered the basics, there are a number of disciplines that they can go on to specialise in including; flyball, agility, heelwork and obedience.

For those pet pooches with natural talent and a penchant for the limelight the school offers training for film and television work.

Owners are taught the skills to train their pet to perform the same behaviours seen on your screen.

Incredibly there are over 200 tricks that your dog can be taught including riding a skateboard, switching on the lights, packing a bag and coughing on command.

So even if Rex doesn't make it to the big screen, he can always lend a hand… or paw rather, with unpacking the shopping!

Star quality

A dog resting his head on a box
Puppy dog eyes - wannabe dogs are photographed for the academy's website

But what turns a pet pooch into a Hollywood star? We turn to Katie for some advice.

"What I'm looking for is the right temperament," she says.

"A dog's got to be really confident about being on set. It can't be scared of people coming at it fast with cameras and having booms stuck under its nose."

The Canine Film Academy also runs photo shoot sessions - after all - what star is complete without their own portfolio?

The pictures appear on the academy's website which can be viewed by researchers looking for their next canine film stars.

Top dog

Dave on a skateboard
Don't try this at home - Dave is a trained professional!

But before you get snapping, the world of showbiz is a fickle one and like Hollywood, what's in vogue today is out the next.

"If you've got something like a Labrador or Springer Spaniel, we have them coming out of our ears," explains Katie.

"But if you've got a really unusual cross breed that's bright and well trained then that's a really nice dog to have on set.

And if you really want to know what's in vogue this season in the canine world, Katie reveals all:

"Jack Russells, please, more Jack Russells!"

So if you think your dog has got what it takes, find out more:

The Canine Film Academy
57C Cheapside Rd
Ascot
Berkshire
SL5 7QR
UK
Tel. 07767 34 14 24

Or visit The Canine Film Academy website

See also ...

On the rest of the web
The Canine Film Academy
The Kennel Club
National Canine Defence League

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

Emma Walker
i think this is a brilliant idea. Dogs can be funny, cuddily and serious. Almost as good as humans. But i cant tell you right here right now that my dog max would be BRILLIANT! at this.



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