I’m back! And today I’m sharing one of my favorite parts about the secret set visit last year. If you missed my first post, you can check it out here. And yesterday I shared our fun interview with “Aunt Sarah” and “Darling” from Lady and the Tramp. So be sure to catch up on those.
Today is allllll about meeting and hanging out on set with Rose and Monty. These dogs were as cute and personable in person as they are on screen. We got to chat with the Head Animal Trainer, Mark Forbes on what it took to get them and train them for the film. So I’m sharing 5 fun facts about training Lady and the Tramp.
Fact #1: Monty was adopted from a photo online
So Mark shared that he was basically cast from a simple picture that had been posted online. The flew out to check out his temperament and he was great! They immediately adopted him. But they didn’t know much about what his life was like before the scooped him up. According to Mark, they are not sure if he was someone’s pet that ran away or if he started out on the streets. Oh, and Mark admitted that “He’s very flirty.” Proof of that in the pic below.
Fact #2: It took about 2.5 months to find/cast all of the dogs
Mark shared, “I think the last one we got was Jagger who plays Isaac, sort of the mean heavy street dog. We got him about eight weeks before we started filming.” The team started about five weeks before the start of filming. About seven or eight of them were complete strays, or rescued. A few came from breeders and a couple came from private homes.
Fact #3: You CAN teach old dogs new tricks
The process for training the dogs really intrigued me. Mark reinforced the myth about not being able to teach an old dog new tricks. He said, “It’s really positive reinforcement. It’s getting them to be sort of a team.” As the Head Animal Trainer, he shared that the first thing is to start with the basics. What are they? “We start training them to sit, lie down, on your feet, stay. It’s about eight behaviors.”
The team spends the first 6 to 8 weeks doing nothing but that. But in addition to those things, they’re also taking them to different places, getting them used to new people. Mark added, “And the great thing about dogs is after a while, a pat on the head means just as much as a treat. Your approval means a lot. So we kind of use that. We rely on that.”
Fact #4: One of the hardest things was keeping the dogs focused
I can’t even imagine having to train all of these dogs. Now, keep in mind that Rose and Monty both had stunt doubles. So there are multiple dogs for one role. So I didn’t find it surprising to hear Mark share that one of the hardest things (especially in a talking dog movie) was all about the dog looking in the right direction. Sometimes they could be looking at another dog or another actor instead of just looking off-screen at the trainers telling them what to do. “That’s probably the hardest thing to do. So it’s all about eye lines. We use a big stick a lot. We teach them to look at the bait stick.”
The trainers are off-screen and directing the dogs on what to do, where to go, etc.
Fact #5: Trainers may be spotted in the film
Speaking of the trainers, there were times where they had to act as an extra in the film. The camera moves away after she’s qued the dog. It’s not something that will be noticeable when watching the film. But we saw it because we were watching the different scenes being filmed. They use every trick that they can. A lot of times the director just want the dog to be natural. Which, as Mark shared, “Natural is the dog behind the camera lifting his leg and peeing.” 😆 Even when it doesn’t look like the dog is doing anything, there is training that needs to be done for them to be on screen.
Fact #6: One Possible Tramp almost didn’t make it
I mentioned earlier that each of them had their own stunt doubles. Tramp had two. Wendell was the first dog that they rescued. And he was in a gang in LA. He was literally in a pack of dogs that were just roaming the streets. And sadly he killed another dog. They caught the whole pack, and they were going to put him to sleep, probably destroy them all.
But when Mark and the team saw his picture online, they thought he looked like a possible Tramp. So they reached out and spoke to them after they had completed one temperament test. “We tried to tell them he was just hanging out with the wrong crowd. We actually have experience with this. Give us a chance. And they did. They let us take him on. And he’s ended up being a wonderful dog.” Wendell ended up being an extra in the pound scene because he was a little bit darker than Monte in the face. There were other happy stories of rescue dogs which was very heartwarming to hear.
So there you go! Fun facts about this all-time beloved film, Lady and the Tramp! Don’t forget: the live-action film will be streamed exclusively on Disney Plus next week, November 12th.
Watch on Disney+ November 12th
This trip to Savannah, GA to cover the #DisneyPlus launch of #LadyAndTheTramp was sponsored by Disney. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.