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“A Dog’s Purpose” movie investigation results

Update: As you may have seen from various new sources, results from the investigation of a panicky dog being pushed into churning water on the film set of “A Dog’s Purpose” are out.

An independent animal-cruelty expert found that preventative safety measures were in place to protect the dog, Hercules, American Humane said…

“The decisions by the individual or individuals who captured and deliberately edited the footage, and then waited longer than 15 months to release the manipulated video only days before the movie’s premiere, raise serious questions about their motives and ethics,” American Humane said Friday.

The video was deliberately edited for the purpose of misleading the public and stoking outrage. In fact, the two scenes shown in the edited video were filmed at different times,” the group said in reporting the findings.

Taking a step back from the motives and ethics of the the people who released the video, am I less horrified now that I learn that preventative safety measures were in place?

For me, all these news does not take away from the immediate visceral horror of seeing the dog being pushed into the water, despite his obvious signals to the handler of his unwillingness and eventual panic. And this is at the beginning part of the video, I hadn’t even watched part 2 which is filmed at a different time where the dog’s head is submerged in the water.

Over at Buzzfeed, the report also says, “Hercules, the German shepherd, was “selected for his love of the water, and had been professionally trained and conditioned for the water scenes over the course of six weeks using positive training techniques,” according to the report.”

Excuse me, which part of being pushed to go into the water when clearly terrfied is positive? Positive training is force-free. I cannot stand behind the ethics and motivations of those who claim to be positive but the eventual result is, it seems the dog was still forced into the water in at least one instance…

I much more appreciate the response from the film’s producer Gavin Polone in this Jan 23 article.

As with the TMZ video that you saw, two things were evident:

1) the dog handler tries to force the dog, for 35 to 40 seconds, into the water when, clearly, he didn’t want to go in; and

2) in a separate take filmed sometime later, the dog did go into the water, on his own, and, at the end, his head is submerged for about 4 seconds.

These two things are absolutely INEXCUSABLE and should NEVER have happened.

The dog trainer should have stopped trying to get the dog to go in the water as soon as the dog seemed uncomfortable, and the trainers should have had support under the dog as soon as he came to the side of the pool and/or had less turbulence in the water so he never would have gone under.

– Polone also gives more description of how the dog is usually water-loving, and the circumstances behind his reluctance here.


I agree with Polone, movie makers need to make sure they hire the right handlers, trainers and safety experts who will make sure that the dog’s physical and mental health are safe-gaurded.

Let’s hope future movies about dogs will have greater consideration of these, then nobody will have any negative footage to share at a delayed date.



Bet you’ve seen this movie trailer of “A Dog’s Purpose” circulating on Facebook.

It garnered 8.4million views and 84.4k thumbs up on Youtube here (accurate as of Jan 19, 2017 7pm Singapore time).

Leaked video on “A Dog’s Purpose” film set reported to show a terrified dog pushed into churning water

Would you still watch it if a scared dog was pushed into what looks like pretty turbulent water to film the scenes in the movie?

Note: If you have a deep empathy for nervous, fearful dogs, this video may be hard to watch. 

Source: Leaked video from “A Dog’s Purpose” set calls film’s treatment of animals into question and “A Dog’s Purpose” is not to be abused in a movie

It’s all still under investigation and TMZ’s not said to be the most credible source.

Regardless, I was looking  forward to seeing this movie, but now… this really spoils it for me. :(

Well, I guess “A Dog’s Purpose” can scratch off the “No animals were harmed in the making of this movie” disclaimer text in the end credits if this really happened… I certainly hope that’s not the case!

What are some of the signals dogs send when they are scared?

And here’s a great video on what kinds of signals a dog can send when they are feeling fearful. If you’ve lived with a dog, I’m sure you already know some of this. But I personally feel that occasionally watching videos like this can help both as a refresher training, and keeps me mindful of a dog’s body language and behaviour.

Stay safe, not sorry guys!

a dog's purpose movie - german shepard dog pushed into water

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  1. I saw this video the other day, and it was really disheartening that he was pushed forcefully. I think there are better ways to accomplish the shoot but I’m no expert. I hope he’s fine after this incident.

    • According to news reports, vet says he is fine :) but any lasting effects can only be discern in his everyday interactions with water, I should think, rather than a one time vet visit :P

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