Have you ever seen a charming dog on your favorite television show, movie, or commercial and wonder how someone can get the dog to do just about anything? Dogs are all over the screens, but how are they so well behaved? How do they know exactly what to do when they are being filmed? In a lot of cases, the answer is positive reinforcement training, and often clicker training has been the go to method.
One of the most famous film dogs, Rin Tin Tin, was trained by using positive reinforcement.
Rin Tin Tin was discovered by an American Soldier named Lee Duncan during WWI. He was examining the battlefields in France after the Germans Troops had just moved on and he heard whimpering noises that seemed to be coming from the back of a nearby kennel. Once inside the kennel, he found a German Shepherd dog and 5 of her puppies. Duncan couldn’t just leave them there, so he decided to take them all with him. The patrol men adopted the Mom and 3 of her puppies, while Duncan kept 2 of the puppies for himself. The puppies Duncan kept were named Rin Tin Tin and Nanette.
Upon arriving home in the USA, Duncan was very excited to begin training Rin Tin Tin. When training the dog, he used positive reinforcement along with treats to encourage the dog’s actions. Rin Tin Tin was taught to execute tricks and he would receive praise and treats after performing his tricks. Click here to see Rin Tin Tin in action!
In 1922, Rin Tin Tin won a jumping contest that was filmed by a young inventor that was willing to pay him for jumping. It was then that Duncan decided to bring his dog into a film career. Duncan continued to use positive reinforcement training to train Rin Tin Tin for a variety of silent movies. The Rin Tin Tin breeding line was founded and is still around today! These dogs continue to be trained by positive reinforcement for various films. The current Rinty (as Rin Tin Tin is affectionately called) also does therapy work and helps with search and rescue missions.
Another famous dog trainer named Mathilde DeCagny, also uses positive reinforcement and fun games in order to train dogs for movies and film. She has trained dogs for big name movies such as Back to the Future, Marley and Me, Hotel for Dogs, and Lady and the Tramp.
“My approach includes an emphasis on common sense, psychology, communication and consistency”. DeCagny tries to read and translate the dog’s body language in order to understand the message it is trying to convey and convey it to the owner. She also says that it is important to reinforce and encourage positive behaviors with treats and other rewards.
Next time you are watching a movie or tv show and there are dogs in the production, observe the dogs in action...can teach you dog using positive reinforcement methods? We bet you can! Check out The Doggone Good Clicker Company because we have all of the dog training supplies you need, and just maybe it's quite possible your dog can be in the movies too!