Dogs in Super Bowl Ads: Fun or Foul Play?

Dogs are the star of media these days. They capture our eyes and our hearts. So, it makes sense that companies would spend enormous amounts of money featuring them in commercials. I love the preview I saw of the Volkswagen upcoming Super Bowl advertisement. Called “The Bark Side” on YouTube, the dogs are barking to a Star Wars theme. Very creative and if you watch carefully, the dogs are wagging their tails, have relaxed body positions, and are enjoying every second of it. It’s very obvious to me that they were trained using reward based positive training methods.

The Bark Side: 2012 Volkswagen Game Day Commercial Teaser

At over 10 million views so far on YouTube, I wouldn’t be surprised if Volkswagen is the real winner of the 2012 Super Bowl.

Next: The Dark Side of Companies Exploiting Dogs in Advertising

Earlier this month I wrote about the Skechers Super Bowl ad portraying racing Greyhounds from the Tuscon Greyhound Park running against a small dog wearing Skechers. Even though the Humane Society of the United States says that no animals were hurt in the making of the commercial, dog lovers are criticizing what is happening behind the scenes. Greyhounds are notorious for being treated inhumanely at racing tracks, and the Tuscon Greyhound Park is known to be one of the worst. The real circumstances of what happens behind the scenes was best said by a rescued Greyhound that wrote a letter to Dogster readers. Hope (her new name) goes into great detail on everything from the spoiled food she was fed, the disgusting conditions in her kennel compound where she was forced to relieve where she slept, and the steroids she was injected so that her odds of winning were greater. And if Skechers had done their homework, they also wouldn’t have had their star of their ad wearing a choke chain (aka training collar).

In contrast, there are the hero dogs of the Superbowl that are behind the scenes. Bomb sniffing dogs have been customarily part of the overall security at recent superbowl games, so I suspect they will be this year as well.

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Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

(cont)...........I recently lost my purebred Golden at the age of 14 to bone cancer. I had him from a small puppy. He was taught to sit, lay down, STAY (very important), roll over, sit UP (beg), play dead, crawl and a few other things. He got a treat and a GOOD BOY! afterwards he learned a trick. After about 3 times, he didn't need treats. When company came, he'd go thru the entire "routine" all one after the other, just to get attention and he'd bark and back up when people applauded him. When I was working with my adopted GSD off leash, he'd be on my other side, doing all those things all on his own. He loved to "show off". Many dogs do.

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

Theresa, remember that dogs will do many things to get a "reward", especially food. Many respond to just a "Good Boy", and others want a food treat. I agree that training animals to do "tricks" which are detrimental to their well being should not be done. I'm against making elephants, for example, walk on their front knees or stand on their heads. What is the purpose? I HAVE seen elephants in the wild stand on their hind legs, however, but it's not for more than a moment in order to reach a high tree branch and pull it down. Teaching dogs to do what you see on the "ads" is just taking advantage of their natural tendencies to "work" for a purpose. Many breeds or individuals actually need a job (something to do). They get bored, they get property and even to themselves. Ever see a dog obsess with chasing it's own tail, for example?

teresa royer
Terry Royer5 years ago

i have notice of late how many animal commercials are out there and as long as there is no abuse or neglect or overwork i guess is ok...but i still dont think that we need to use animals to get our point across or sell something etc,etc,to make them do thing that is unnatural to them... i dont see the point...i think that is more people with a consciences and more animal lovers out there...i hope is more and more!!!! and maybe thats why we see more comercials with animals in them ,we want to see them doing all those silly things that we make them do...we have very good graphic art now and can be very real looking...why not do it this way and leave the animals alone.

colleen p.
colleen p5 years ago savage barbarian monster looser just evil abuse should be criminal how could people do this? poor slave

colleen p.
colleen p5 years ago

why don't you also go after guys who use dogs to "get girls"?
or if some kid is selling cookies or lemonaide and have their dog with them by their stand.

dogs, like sex and babies sell.

and I hope nobody here ever gets offerd to take their pooch somewhere for a promotional. wear a godamn costume if you think your dog wants to help you raise charity. or wash dogs for charity. really. don't ring a bell with your dog for any cause. even for an animal

Rafael R.
Rafael Rodrigues5 years ago

That was very nice.

naomi cohen
naomi cohen5 years ago

this is adorable. no dog was hurt, obviously, and they got the point across.

Annemarie Vidal
Anne-Marie Vidal5 years ago

It's sad that we are such a commercialized society that the Fortune 500 will exploit our canine freinds to sell anything. We are deteriorating as a civilization where more and more, anything that is cute or attractive is for sale.

Robin R.
Robin R5 years ago

I don't see how the Volkswagon ad has anything to do with cars? But they put many different kinds of dogs in their commercial (therefore not promoting a single breed - in fact it looks as though some of them are mixes) and the dogs looked genuinely happy. There is definitely a line that no company should cross - and Sketchers clearly crossed that line. No company should be supporting the greyhound industry in any way whether animals are hurt during filming or not. I am sure that many people have made this clear to Sketchers. But did any of you see the "puppy bowl" videos? THAT is a great way to put animals on film - too cute! And they are just being filmed doing what puppies do.

Carrie Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)