When we learned that Uggie, the adorable canine star of the Golden Globe award-winning and multi-Oscar nominated film, The Artist, was coming to our West Hollywood Unleashed by Petco store, we immediately asked our Facebook and Twitter fans what they would like to know about training a celebrity dog.
The adorable Jack Russell Terrier, an adopted dog himself, is coming to the store to help raise awareness for shelter animals as part of our monthly National Adoption Weekend. His goal at the special meet-and-greet is to use his celebrity status to help raise awareness for shelter animals.
We selected the top five questions to ask Uggie’s trainer, Omar von Muller:
Q: What suggestions do you have for helping a rescue dog overcome her fears?
O: A dog that is rescued can be very fearful. The best thing to do is to spend a lot of time with them and make sure the dog gets socialized, because they may have come from having a bad experience.
Q: What are your top three training tips for puppies?
O: First, crate train for housebreaking so that they can be more independent. Second, start very early with light, all positive obedience. Third, socialize them right away.
Q: Have you taught a dog to read commands, and if so, what commands?
O: I’ve taught dogs to differentiate shapes like X’s, O’s and squares, but never taught a dog to read commands. There is a trick behind people who say dogs can really read.
Q: What was the most difficult trick to train?
O: The most difficult trick was training a dog to do straight continuous back flips. Right now I’m working on winking an eye, and it is taking me a while to get it right. My dog can do it when I’m close to him, but it is more difficult when he is at a distance.
Q: How do you work with a high energy breed like a terrier?
O: High energy dogs are my favorite because you can use all the energy and apply it to training. You have to be very consistent and train, train, train. They also must have a solid obedience foundation.
So what’s life like for a Hollywood pup? According to von Muller, he’s a beloved house pet, enjoying the good life with his seven other dogs. The dogs hang out on the couch, watch TV with von Muller and sleep on von Muller’s bed! That’s a big change from acting on the set!
Interested about becoming a dog trainer, but not sure how to get started? According to von Muller, it’s a labor of love. He got his start nearly 30 years ago when he realized he might be able to earn a living doing what he loves. Thanks to his dedication, Uggie is the dog of the hour, bringing joy to pet lovers and movie buffs worldwide!