21 November 2012 1:54 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Patience and ingenuity are required for Julie Tottman to teach dogs – and owls, goats, cats and pigs – new tricks

Julie Tottman can train dogs to use a lavatory, owls to deliver mail and squirrels to shell nuts on bar stools, but there's one frequent request from film-makers that makes her heart sink. "You can't train a dog to hump," she says.

"You have to find one who does it naturally. I have to call on a friend whose mastiff will hump anything from cushions to table legs. If a director wants a specific breed other than a mastiff I have to say no."

Tottman, 42, runs the UK arm of Gary Gero's Birds & Animals, a Californian company that provides animal "actors" for the film and theatre industry. At her base in Hertfordshire she trained dogs, cats and owls for the filming of the Harry Potter films, and has provided biddable goats for Mamma Mia, »

- Anna Tims

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