Hi everybody!

I'm returning this year to be the official referee for The 11th edition of Animal Planet’s PUPPY BOWL premiering this Sunday, February 1 from 3-5 PM (ET/PT) and repeating all day and night until 3 AM (ET/PT) in case you miss it the first time.

Check out some highlights from this year's game here!

A little bit about me: I had a relationship with ANIMAL PLANET before this - I was the host of a few one hour specials for the network. I'd also worked as a narrator for Discovery in the past. The guy who had the job before me moved on to another network, so there was an opening, I had to submit an audition tape after they approached me - so I went into dog parks in NYC and recorded myself officiating football games with random dogs (much to the consternation of the owners) and I also recorded some hijinx with my sister's dogs in their backyards. Anyways, it wound up being a fun tape, and I did a testimonial straight to camera about how this was my dream job, and it was my AMERICAN IDOL moment - and I got it!

So here I am, ready to answer your questions about the world's cutest game. Victoria's helping me get started. AMA!


EDIT: Well, I want everyone to know that we start the game at 3 PM Eastern / 3 PM pacific on Sunday, and if you miss that, don't worry, we'll play it again every 2 hours, and every game will be different than the last - so our endings should be different based on what our audience decides every time we air the Puppy Bowl is! We just want to encourage everybody to go to http://www.animalplanet.com now - so you can watch the Puppy Live Cam, see them in training, we also have the Puppy Pre-Game show, you can instagram photos, there is SO much you can do on there... and I'd love if you saw all the videos. And thanks for all your support!

Comments: 105 • Responses: 34  • Date: 

pondeli96 karma

Can you respond to the allegations that in past puppy-bowls, footballs, tennis balls and other chew toys have been deflated to give an advantage to softer-toothed puppies?

DanSchachner106 karma

Yes, I can say that those allegations are 100% false, and the reason I know this is that as the only human involved in Puppy Bowl, it is up to me to personally inspect every single ball on the field. Unless, of course, they are neutered, in which case, I do not.

sandiskplayer3445 karma

I'm just here so I won't get put in time out.

DanSchachner20 karma

I love that. A lot of puppies say that, too, when they're playing the field.

babuc26 karma

Have you asked Taylor Swift and Olivia Benson to perform at the halftime show?

DanSchachner81 karma

No, we approached Katy Perry's cat - Kitty Purry - and that's true (for those that don't know, that is actually her cat's name) who were not available, so we have our own cat performer, named "Catty Furry." Some say she's better that Kitty Purry, but that's not for me to decide. The haters call her a copycat. I disagree.

bluepinkblack26 karma

What do you say to elite, stand-out kittens like Meow-shawn Lynch and Rob Gronk-Catski, who are trying to make the shift from the Feline Fur League, into Puppy Bowl contention? Do you support this type of domesticated pet, football play integration?

DanSchachner23 karma

Great questions!

I think... that there's always room for cats to move up the ladder, as long as they're not riding someone else's coattails to get there.

Sorry, I couldn't resist!

Will we ever see cats on the field? I think there's room for any animal species in sports. Whether that sport is football, baseball, soccer, whatever, I would like to see more animals participating. I think some people might say cats are as athletic, if not MORE so, than dogs. If so, I would welcome the chance to have kittens as part of our next Puppy Bowl draft.

america_rex23 karma

How quickly do you drop on a woman at the bar that you're a referee at the puppy bowl? Second, does it help your game a lot?

DanSchachner43 karma

Well, I don't have to ever drop it because the stripes -which I never stop wearing - give it away. So it can actually be awkward if they DON'T recognize me as the Puppy Bowl ref. And I am married, but my wife is - well, let's just say, she understands that it comes with the job that I'll get some attention from fans across the world, and that's okay.

Philthy4222 karma

Is there any truth the allegations the cats in the Kitten Halftime show were on catnip at the time of filming?

DanSchachner40 karma

Here's what I'll say about that.

There are NO PEDs used whatsoever during Puppy Bowl. I know this for a fact, because the number one way to test for PEDs is urine samples, of which we have plenty.

Same goes for the cats. But you know, what the cats do in their spare time is none of my business. They are performers, and not athletes, so if they need an extra boost to get them through the grueling halftime show, then off the record - I support it. But that's off the record, yeah.

AtoZZZ19 karma

What happens to the puppies after the bowl?

DanSchachner66 karma

They retire, they often get endorsement deals, or they become commentators for ESPN.

(*But seriously - they are all adopted. This year we had 55 participate, and I am pretty confident all were adopted).

heroesofmightnmagic16 karma

How long does it take to film the Puppy Bowl and how far in advance is it filmed?

DanSchachner39 karma

The Puppy Bowl is shot about 3 months in advance. A lot of people don't know this. The reason why it takes so much time is the Puppy Bowl broadcast is a 2 hour event, but it is not a 2 hour event to film - it takes 2 FULL DAYS to film. Reason being, we are trying to showcase as many different puppies as possible, and we want to rotate them in and out, and give them as many chances to have action on the field as possible!

Additionally, there are 17 cameras shooting the action on the field at the same time. You can imagine, 2 days of shooting, 17 cameras, that is hundreds if not thousands of hours of footage that needs to be watched, logged, and edited.

We also have our integrations - like we talked about our movie partnerships - this year's the integration's with Spongebob - we also have special appearances, this year Drew Carey will be appearing with A Price is Right integration, and we also have a Puppy Bowl Fantasy team that you can create - for that you have to go to AnimalPlanet.com and create your puppy fantasy team and track them and their progress during the game...

so all of that is a long-winded way of saying it takes MONTHS to put all this together so that way people can enjoy it as a 2 hour event.

Spoonsy12 karma

Whose idea were the penguin cheerleaders?

DanSchachner21 karma

Last year, the Super Bowl was held in New York. And one of the concerns people had was "What if it snowed?" because it was held in a cold weather environment and usually the Super Bowl is held in a warm weather environment. So people thought that it was an issue -the cold of New York. SO in a nod to that, we hired a bunch of penguins from the Columbus Zoo to come be our cheerleaders! We put giant blocks of ice on the field. So it was funny and a fun way to acknowledge the cold weather. I don't know whose idea it was - probably a brilliant executive at Animal Planet came up with the idea.

Spoonsy8 karma

That person is brilliant and deserves a raise. Just wanted them to know that.

DanSchachner10 karma

HAHA! I will pass that along, thank you!

motherofGouda12 karma

I know that in the last they have been puppies available for adoption. Do they usually all get adopted after the game and how long does it take?

DanSchachner25 karma

Literally, it takes MINUTES. As soon as people start watching Puppy Bowl, they can go to ANimalPlanet.com and look up the puppy profile, which will connect you with the shelter or rescue center that has them! And you can be sure that within 5 minutes - you have to act quickly. So what we like to say is "Don't worry if the dog or cat you fell in love with is no longer available - because they are part of litters, and they will probably have brothers or sisters that you can adopt, even if that one star puppy isn't there!"

motherofGouda8 karma

That is great! Are they from all over the US? Is there a place to see updates on past "players"?

DanSchachner12 karma


They are from all over the US and Puerto Rico. This year we had 37 shelters participate from all over the country. And the "Adoption Tails" segment - we have that as part of the show, and on AnimalPlanet.com - and that tells you what happens to Puppy Bowl puppies after they've been adopted.

randyplayer12 karma

Isn't it time for a kitty bowl with a puppy halftime show? Have we not evolved enough as a society to see this sort of equality on our televisions?

DanSchachner14 karma

I've heard that there is a Kitty Bowl somewhere, on another network. I have heard that exists already. I don't know who their halftime entertainment is. All we can say is that as long as they're promoting adoption awareness, we're happy! And we think copycats are great, as long as they promote adoption awareness.

Iz_Ma_Dawg12 karma

If one of the players starts ah...cleaning themselves... after a touchdown, how much is the fine?

DanSchachner19 karma

Oh, I see! Cleaning after a touchdown - oh yea. that's probably illegal grooming, and illegal self-grooming comes with a 10 yard penalty, and you will repeat the down.

WatchAdamRise9 karma

Do the puppies get fined if they don't participate in media days? Would like to address the recent string of puppy concussions? What are you doing to protect the pups?

DanSchachner24 karma

Okay, let's start with the media question. Every puppy's contract states that they have to speak to the media as part of their role as a player. HOWEVER, the problem is, I have yet to find a puppy that can read. Therefore, they are constantly breaking this clause, and in constant violation of their contracts, and I have yet to see a puppy speak to the media yet. Marshawn Lynch would be proud.

And as far as puppy concussions go, I have been an advocate of puppy safety, and within Puppy Bowl, for years now - the problem is we have not been able to come to terms with a developer on the right-sized helmet. You would not believe the variety of head shapes that exist in the puppy world. There's not even a hundred-size-fits-all! They would need to create a custom helmet for each dog, and that is the problem.

I am hoping one day to rectify this. But jury is still out.

beernerd9 karma

Do you think the use of instant replay in officiating is better for the sport? Or do you prefer to call it as you see it?

DanSchachner14 karma

For us, it's both. I do call the plays as I see them, but without instant replay - you have to remember, there are 12-20 puppies on the field at one time. It's a very small field - about 10 feet by 20 feet across - and I am the only human, there are no other officials on the field besides me, so the way I see it is I need all the help I can get. SO if someone catches a foul, or a touchdown on instant replay, I'm happy to replay the tape and either dole out the penalty or the praise.

Eternally659 karma

Some people say that Puppy Bowl has gotten too commercial, that the high prices being paid for 30 second ads are corrupting the game, and that the pure athleticism has been lost in the amount of hype and constant media attention. Do you agree, and would you like to go back to the old "pickup" Puppy Bowl we all remember watching at our local parks and backyards?

DanSchachner12 karma

I still play pickup Puppy Bowl any chance I get.

And believe me, if you think that's strange in the suburbs, you should try it in crowded New York City, when you see a man playing a crowded dog park with a bunch of dogs.

So I agree with you there.

As far as commercialization, I think that might be a reaction to the fact that our stadium was - last year - renamed "Geico Stadium" instead of "Puppy Bowl stadium" and a lot of our viewers had a problem with that because they thought it was becoming too commercial. And as I would say - the amount of money these sponsors give us allow us to include more puppies, and make the show bigger and better every year. So more puppies are exponentially getting rescued. So it's not so much a help for us, but a help for the puppy community that needs forever homes.

happyamosfun8 karma

How do I keep the tongues of my shoes from slipping to the side under the laces?

DanSchachner14 karma

Great question! That happens a lot with dogs, and their own wagging tongues. The best thing is... I would say the best thing is to keep the tongue in one place with a piece of scotch tape, then tie the laces over it, then remove the scotch tape.

MBprocast8 karma

What celebrities did you voice for Celebrity Deathmatch?

DanSchachner9 karma

OH MY GOSH! The most notable was Nick Lachey, who was from 98 degrees, I think that was the band he was in? He appeared on Celebrity Deathmatch a few times, and I viewed him a few times. And mostly a lot of grunts and groans, because it's a wrestling match.

Kanuck_Kyle8 karma

How is working with Animal Planet and Discovery? To me those would be the ultimate jobs!

DanSchachner22 karma

They are great jobs, it's true! It really is my dream gig. I've been a dog lover all my life, and when this opportunity came, I jumped at the chance. Animal Planet is EXTREMELY supportive, as you can imagine, they are all about adoption awareness - "adopt, don't shop" - we don't want you to go to pet stores, go to shelters, because those animals need homes. What's nice about working with Animal Planet is that they have a nice clear vision of what they want to do - the message they want to present, and a way to share with the entire family - we have fans as young as 4 years old, or as old as 90 years old! It's really fun, really satisfying work.

pandasurfing8 karma

Is there one call that looking back on it you wish you could take back?

DanSchachner17 karma

Oh, GREAT question!

You know... yes. Early on, I started penalizing dogs every time they went to the bathroom. I quickly realized that was a losing battle. And I could do it all day long. So I had to start ignoring that. So my first ten "fouling the field" calls or "premature watering the lawn" calls... those are the ones I wish I could take back, because I realize I was just wasting my time.

THEsolid857 karma

I'm a Puppy Bowl purist and my problem with the most recent installments have been the inclusion of other animals, like cats. Whose decision was that and is that person fired yet? Why can't cats mind their own business?

DanSchachner17 karma

Well, we include cats as part of the halftime show, but not as part of the game itself. The reason being that we include kittens is because every shelter and rescue center that we work with, in addition to having lots of great dogs that need homes, have cats too - so by showcasing kittens at halftime, we are trying to showcase that they need adoption at the local shelter. As far as Puppy Bowl purity goes, then, I would say I agree with you - so far the game is a dog-only game.

Frajer7 karma

are you ever worried about the puppies peeing or pooping while they play ?

DanSchachner16 karma

Always. It's not so much worry - it's a guarantee. It's like -how can I put this? You don't have to worry about it happening, it's guaranteed to happen. It's if it doesn't happen that I worry. They are puppies between 12-21 weeks of age, and if they don't pee, that's not in their nature, so we encourage the waterworks.

courtiebabe4206 karma


DanSchachner13 karma

Well, right now, this is my 4th year, which doesn't seem a lot, but it is quite a lot in dog years. To a dog, I've been doing this for 28 years, and it absolutely feels like an eternity. I like to think and hope i've got another 28 years ahead of me. We'll see how my back does as I age. That's really all it's about. If you've got a strong back, you can stand up and get down quickly, get down to where the action is, then you're good to go as a ref for a while. But we'll see !

hobo_police6 karma

how do you sleep at night?

DanSchachner13 karma

On my side, usually, with a puppy-shaped pillow tucked between my knees, and just basically a leash ready to go to take my puppy out for a walk, because he has what I like to call a "too-small" bladder. So we are constantly taking care of business.

theArnoldFans16 karma

Hi Dan, do movie studios every do promotion with the Puppy Bowl? How about Terminator puppies for the new movie coming this summer?

DanSchachner8 karma

That is a GREAT IDEA. You know, yes, movie studios do cross-promotional things with us. In the past years, we've linked up with Disney to help them promote the Super Buddies franchise of films (which are dog films) and last year it was DESPICABLE ME that we teamed up with, and this year we've teamed up with the Spongebob Movie - it kind of had a nature theme, underwater, and we're Animal Planet, so that's the connection there!

killcrew6 karma

Has there ever been an issue with a pup being too aggressive resulting in an ejection from the game (or edited out of filming completely)?

DanSchachner9 karma

Oh yes! Very much. Dogs get multiple warnings, but if they are still napping illegally, or being excessively cute, or bathing in the water bowl, they will get benched and replaced by one of our many equally-talented second string players!

killcrew11 karma

Waterbowl Cam is definitely my favorite thing. Nothing better than when a dog just plops down in it.

DanSchachner8 karma

Yes. Mine too! As long as they don't plop down too long, I won't throw the flag for "illegal bathing." They're allowed to be in there for about 10 seconds before I get angry.

Th3Obsolete5 karma

What is the penalty and ruling when a puppy leaves an accident on the field?

DanSchachner6 karma

Yes! It's a 5 yard penalty, and we replay the down. That's if it's a number one. If it's a number 2, it's a ten-yard penalty, replay the down.

ucantsimee5 karma

How did you get that job?

DanSchachner15 karma

Well, the guy before me had the job for 7 years, he moved on to work for the Food Network, therefore there was an opening for a Puppy Bowl ref! So I created a crazy audition tape, where I ran around NYC trying to officiate dogs in dog parks, doing little scrimmages with any dogs I could get my hands on, it got me a lot of weird looks from strangers but it got the job so I'm happy in the end.

GearsMaster4 karma

What is the most controversial ruling you've given during the course of your career? (What sorts of rulings could you really enforce, though?)

DanSchachner14 karma

Great, great question, because puppies have very short-term memories, so even if you set them back 5 yards for "intentional growling" they're probably not going to remember that 10 minutes later when they do it over again...

So there are 2 ways to enforce the rules - set them back a few yards, 15 yards if it's bad enough. If they are very rambunctious, we'll set them on the bunch - remember , 55 puppies are in this year's Puppy Bowl, but 85 came to the game! that means we had to bench 30 second-string puppies ready to go! So if a puppy did continue to violate rule after rule, he was benched, and replaced.

As far as the most controversial ruling is the historic "double touchdown' from 2 years ago. What happened was - we have multiple balls on the field, and 2 dogs dragged 2 chew toys into the end zone at the exact same time. Now in human football that would never happen, because there's only one ball, but in the Puppy Bowl, there are multiple balls, so double touchdowns happen. And a lot of controversy ensued when we played back the tape. People didn't think both balls crossed at the exact same time - some people thought it got there sooner by half an inch, and we watched that game tape back and back and back - and I will say to this day that it was truly at the same time. So the historic double-touchdown - BAM!

geneticlyperfct3 karma

Your favorite type of dog? And why is it Beagle mix?

DanSchachner11 karma

Yeah... I love Beagle Mixes because I had one as a child. I just... happened to really love beagles. I also love dachshunds. I'm more a fan of small to medium breeds, and that's probably because I live in Manhattan in a very small apartment - therefore I won't have a Great Dane, or a husky, it would be too much! So smaller, more transportable dogs are better for me and my lifestyle. As a ref, I can't show favoritism, but on the personal side, I'm a sucker for beagles and dachshunds.

honeybadgergrrl4 karma

Yay team dachshund! /r/dachshund would love this.

DanSchachner7 karma

Oh great! I'm happy to hear it! Go Doxxies! I think Doxxies are an underrated football playing dog, because they are so long - they may actually, because of their length, cross over into the end zone without you knowing it.

dragonfly19932 karma

favorite snack?

DanSchachner6 karma

Great question. My favorite snack is - if I'm feeling healthy - a green smoothie. This is boring, but i'm going to say it anyway.

If I'm feeling unhealthy, my favorite snack is going to be coffee and donuts.

Not dog-related, at all... I'm around so much bacon-flavored stuff, dealing with dogs all day long, that the idea of bacon just reminds me of work - which is great, and fun, but it's not always the top of my list when it comes to snacks!