How the Rottweilers on FX’s The Old Man Were Trained to Perform for the Camera

Animal trainer Sarah Clifford shares her process


Episode Notes

This week, host June Thomas talks to Sarah Clifford, an animal trainer who worked on the new FX series The Old Man, starring Jeff Bridges and some very talented rottweilers. In the interview, Sarah explains why rottweilers–instead of pit bulls or malinois–were chosen to be Jeff Bridges’ co-stars on the show. Then she gets specific about how she trained the dogs to display a range of behaviors and emotions.

After the interview, June and co-host Karen Han compare the on-set treatment of animal performers to the on-set treatment of human actors.

In the exclusive Slate Plus segment, June asks Sarah if there are any animals that can’t be trained.

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Podcast production by Cameron Drews.


About the Show

Slate interviews creative people about their work.

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  • Karen Han is a former Slate staff writer. Her writing on film, TV, and culture has also appeared in the New York Times, Vulture, Vanity Fair, the Atlantic, and Vice.

  • June Thomas is the co-host of Slate's Working podcast. She is writing a book about archetypical lesbian spaces.