As one of the producers of the Canadian series PET FASHION Television, I know about dogs and their “Hollywood moms and dads.” Stepping into the professional world of canine modeling for print or television is not the same as putting your pooch on a runway stage just for fun.  Meet Jo Jo Harder, creator of the very popular online America’s Top Dog Model contest and author of Diva Dogs: A Style Guide to living the Fabulous life and her latest How to Become A Top Dog Model.  She tells Canine Culture® why she wrote the book.

Tell us about yourself?                                                                                                                                                     

JoJo: I am a dog lover with a passion for style and fashion. Growing up in Minneapolis set the stage for my lifestyle today.  I was introduced to the fashion industry as a teen model. After graduating from the University of Minnesota and traveling the world as a flight attendant, I moved to New York City and launched a fashion design firm. My line of women’s clothing under the Jo Jo label was sold nationally in Nordstrom, Marshall Fields, Henri Bendel, Fred Segal, and other fine stores. I began free-lance writing while residing in New York, and became a full time writer after moving to Boca Raton, Florida.

The fashionable canines of South Florida got my attention and inspired me to write my first book Diva Dogs: A Style Guide For Living the Fabulous Life published in 2008 by BowTie Press. While writing Diva Dogs, I thought it would be fun to have a contest along with the book. This way people everywhere can celebrate this incredible union we share with our canine companions. Thus, I created Americas Top Dog Model ® Contest (now in its ninth year) at  America’s Top Dog Models ® are featured in my books along with my Miniature Greyhound, Romeo who definitely leads the fabulous life!

Describe the “it” factor you look for America’s Top Dog?                                                                    

JoJo: The selection of America’s Top Dog Models ® involve much more than an “it” factorCertainly appearance is important. “Top dogs” must be well groomed, photogenic, and obedient. Additionally, America’s Top Dog Models ® are dogs that make a difference™ which is our contest mission. In addition to possessing “star” quality, selection is based on the contestant’s story about how their dog makes a difference in people’s lives.

What compelled you to write your latest book on How To Become A Top Dog Model ?  

JoJo: During the many years of organizing America’s Top Dog Model ® 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 modelling? Due to this popular question, I decided it was time and certainly fitting to write this book. Combining my experience as a fashion designer, stylist, and former model, I created How to Become a Top Dog Model, the “first” complete canine modelling guide

How trained does a pooch have to be?                                                                                                                

JoJo: Both basic and advanced training is required. For modeling, dogs must respond to basic commands like come, sit, and stay. Film and television require advanced training, as dogs must respond to direction and verbal commands.

How important is the temperament of the dog?                                                                                          

JoJo: Temperament is very important. Canine models are expected to be obedient, friendly, sociable, patient, and good-natured.

What do the clients prefer to work with female or male dogs?                                                            

 JoJo: It depends on the modeling job. If the job is a runway show, a female dog most likely would be preferred because there are more fashion options. For all other types of jobs, it may be easier to work with male dogs. They tend to be more accepting of attention, affectionate, and focused on human beings. Female dogs can be very loving too, but after awhile they may prefer to go off on their own, whereas male dogs are likely to accept as much attention as people are willing to give them.

What are the difficulties in becoming a top dog model, do you think it’s a dog eat dog business?                                                                                                                                                                           JoJo: Yes, this business is definitely competitive. It requires a lot of time, perseverance and serious connections!

What advice would you give someone who wants to get his or her fur-baby in the modelling business?                                                                                                                                                                        JoJo: Read my book How to Become a Top Dog Model.

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