Hi everybody!

I'm returning this year to be the official referee for The 12th edition of Animal Planet’s PUPPY BOWL premiering this Sunday, February 7 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.

You can check out some the adorable stars competing in the big game here!

In case you missed last year's AMA, here's 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!

Proof: http://twitter.com/AnimalPlanet/status/695653339049099264

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

UPDATE: Thanks everyone for supporting the Puppy Bowl! You can check out all the pregame action this year on animalplanet.com/puppybowl!

Comments: 1008 • Responses: 43  • Date: 

MattBaster2409 karma

What are the long term consequences of sustained head injuries amongst the participants? What measures are being taken to ensure maximum puppy noggin safety?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan2024 karma

I have been campaining for years to put helmets on these guys. If you think it's tough to put a bandana on these guys, just imagine how hard it is to put a helmet, shoulder pads, wrist pads on a 12-week-old Chihuahua! So to ensure their safety, we have a bunch of certified representatives from the Humane Society as well veterinarians on the side lines to make sure these pups stay safe!

imbaseball1094 karma

How can I get my cat to stop rooting for injuries?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan1293 karma

Your cat should go online and draft a Puppy Bowl Fantasy Team! He or she will feel a lot more invested in the puppies!

bwrobel12932 karma

You do realize this program has resulted in many fights between husband/wife and boyfriend/girlfriend on what to watch on Super Bowl Sunday. Why do you encourage verbal fights between significant others during what should be a holiday? We demand answers fine sir!

PuppyBowlRef_Dan949 karma

I sympathize with you, my heart goes out to you and your family. It's a tragedy that people don't understand that you don't have to choose! You can watch our show at 3 PM EST/PST which is way before the big game and then you can watch the big game later! Puppy Bowl also repeats so you can even watch it afterwards!

Smartnership822 karma

I just drafted the black labrador retriever in my fantasy puppy football league, what others do you feel are primed for an all-star performance? I kinda like the springer spaniel at wide receiver.

Also, I got home team +8.5 spread, so anything you can do for a brother would be appreciated

PuppyBowlRef_Dan1005 karma

You gotta look at the dogs that are on the Team Fluff this year. Team Fluff lost by almost 50 points last year but this year, there are a lot of sleepers on that team this year, both literally and figuratively In terms of specific players, I would check out Wrinkles the Shar Pei and Star, who's a mixed breed!

snaughtrockets708 karma

Seeing as this is the 12th year, will there ever be an alumni game?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan1042 karma

We would be on board with that! In fact, we have a special Hall of Fame induction ceremony during this year's Puppy Bowl with football Hall of Famer Bruce Smith! It's a great way to honor past Puppy Bowl MVPs and older pets in general.

AlabamaJesus599 karma

How did you score that gig and is it your only job all year?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan988 karma

No, I do this for about three months out the year. For the rest of the year I'm in hibernation since it's a very intense three months.

As for how I scored the gig, Animal Planet already knew me as a host and TV personality. So, when this job opened up five years ago, they asked me to try out for it and here I am!

chooter584 karma

Hi Dan! I was lucky enough to interview you last year and I remember how funny you were! Excited for this year - what's the latest on kittens playing in the Puppy Bowl?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan382 karma

Oh man! The kittens are part of our half time show! The kittens do so much an amazing job during halftime and you can see more of them on the Puppy Bowl site. We don't have room for them on the roster right now, but maybe next year!

cbarr92541 karma

How many times have you been peed on?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan1145 karma

More times than I can count! Honestly, if I don't get peed on, it's not Puppy Bowl.

Snisflen434 karma

How are the dogs chosen? Are they rewarded afterwards with treats for doing well?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan907 karma

The dogs are chosen from 44 shelters and rescue groups from across the country. The rescue groups submit pictures of dogs next to a can of soda in order to convey how small or big they are! We choose 12-24 weeks, adorable, have to up for adoption & they have to be diverse. And yes, they are constantly rewarded! I, as well as the trainers and volunteers, have a pocket full of treats! They don't get treats on the field but we use the treats to coax them on and off the field.

Jalapenyobuisness395 karma

What is the cutest rule infraction you've ever seen?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan1388 karma

I've seen wallflowering. Wallflowering is when a puppy is a little too timid to play on the field! They want to get involved but they may feel too small. You gotta give them a little pup talk to get them into the game!

cbessette310 karma

I have any of the players taken a dump on the field?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan630 karma

Oh yeah! We call it fertilization of the field and it's a five yard penalty! We do our best to try and make sure it doesn't happen again. We try not to feed them too too much before the game, but some accidents cannot be avoided.

15chainz303 karma

As someone who has never watched this before.... do you actually make penalty calls?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan886 karma

Yeah! We make calls for nearly everything you see. We call things like pancaking penalties and excessive cuteness penalties because let's be serious a bunch of puppies on top of each other is just too adorable.

We have a few pun penalties too. Instead of horse-collar, we have dog-collar. Instead of holding, which is a huge penalty in human football, we have pawing. I also call puppy-specific penalties like excessive licking, excessive bathing and excessive nipping.

Frajer285 karma

do you think that the puppies know what is going on?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan620 karma

I think they know that they're somewhere special and there's a lot of attention being given to them. They know if they behave they'll be given a reward and it's playtime. If the puppies don't realize they're there to play, we'll have a shy pup. The good ones know it's playtime and that's all we want as the officials--we just want them to play and know what's going on.

Jerbattimus220 karma

What's the biggest Puppy Bowl controversy you can remember? What's the Puppy Bowl's "Deflate-gate"?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan425 karma

We actually had our own "Deflategate" this year! The puppies had to lawyer up and everything.

El_Bard0187 karma

How cold is your soul to resist not petting the heck out of all those puppies and kittens throughout the entire broadcast?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan426 karma

It's not cold at all! When the cameras are off, you will find me in the middle of puppy pile up on the fifty-yard line! But, they don't show it because I have remain some integrity as a referee. I do get a little cuddle in whenever a pup scores a touchdown.

liverSpool185 karma

Are we ever going to see guinea pig cheerleaders?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan259 karma

Maybe next year!! That's a great idea! We're had hedgehogs, which are bigger and more active. In fact, we had birds this year. So, hopefully!

climchanwrit179 karma

What's something that goes into the preparation for the Puppy Bowl that we probably wouldn't think about?

What's your favorite part about getting ready for the puppy bowl?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan332 karma

  1. Great question. One thing that most people wouldn't think about it how we fit all of these dogs into one studio! And that doesn't mean on the field, because there's only 12-15 on the field at any given time. I'm talking the dogs on the sidelines and in the locker room. We actually had to move to a large sound studio this year because the number of puppies we use is growing! We want to make sure these puppies are comfortable for the three-day shooting schedule, so a larger studio was necessary. If you think the field is impressive, you should see the puppy waiting room!
  2. My favorite part would be putting on the whistle. When I put on the whistle, I know it's official, I know it's game time, and there's no turning back. It's the icing on the cake!

This-Is-My-Username_175 karma

Is Meep the bird as handsome in real life as on tv?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan281 karma

Meep the Bird is more handsome in real life than on TV, trust me, I'm next to him. If you think texting with your fingers is hard, imagine texting with a beak! He's incredibly handsome AND incredibly talented.

lula2488166 karma

What's the lamest superpower you would settle for?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan418 karma

I think the lamest one would probably be to have a bottomless pit stomach for the sole purpose of entering eating contests. I would enter all those contests and eat all the hotdogs and win the golden cup.

historyhipster142 karma

Who all is performing at half time? Puppies are great, but I love seeing the lil kitties too!

PuppyBowlRef_Dan310 karma

This year our kittens so adorable and they're all from adoption centers from across the country. Theres 20 of them and they're performing on a San Francisco set. Have you heard of Alcatraz? Well we have Cat-Catraz! It's a lot of riffs on San Fran but in a kitten theme! It's going to be a great show with adorable little cats!

hungry_lobster131 karma

What happens to the puppies after the bowl? Are they given back to the shelter or are the adopted straight from you guys?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan353 karma

They usually hit the showers and do some post-game press reviews with the media, some go to Disneyland. Others bask in their glory as MVP (Most Valuable Puppy). Seriously though, we have a 100% adoption rate by the time the show airs. However, not all of them get adopted right after the game. It might take a couple days or weeks, but everyone eventually does find a home.

pavarotten128 karma

Do you ever have favorites? If so, are they based on performance?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan243 karma

My favorites are only based on on-field performance! But I can't say my favorites until after the game is over. During the game, I have to remain impartial.

I remember Falcor and Cara from last year. They were crowned MVPs and were awesome!

YEAHARGH121 karma

Is there a breed of dog that you are particularly biased to out there on the field?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan277 karma

Personally speaking (not professionally), I have a soft spot for dachshunds. They're smart, chill and make great companions.

They don't run fast on the field, but they can be great blockers!

ckellingc112 karma

Have you been offered any bribes from any of the athletes?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan243 karma

Um, no... unless you count pouty little lips and big puppy eyes as bribes, most people do. But I'm not made of stone, if a puppy looks up at me with those big eyes, maybe I'll give them an extra treat if no one's looking. But, as far as keeping the rules in tact, no there is no bribing there!

seangibbz108 karma

How do you handle puppies that decide to have lay down and have nap time while out on the field?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan240 karma

It's called "excessive napping" or "illegal lounging." It's a big penalty, kind of like excessive celebrating in human football! Quick little cat nap is no problem, but when you're flat out snoring on the fifty-yard line, that's going to get you benched.

TektonikGymRat105 karma

On a scale of 1 to a bajillion how much do you love your job?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan252 karma

A gazillion times 10. It's the best job I have ever had. I've worked in TV for 15 years as a host, actor, you name it and this is the best job I've ever had.

SarahHasJuice102 karma

what is the biggest turd you have seen on the field?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan199 karma

The bigger the breed, the bigger the accident. Chihuahuas are small and are easier to clean up after, but by the time we get to the fourth quarter and showcase the bigger breeds like the German Shepherds, the Dalmatians, the Golden Retrievers... well, those guys leave their mark.

eadon_rayne97 karma

Have you ever wanted to adopt one of the puppies for yourself? If so, were you allowed to?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan370 karma

I would be allowed to because I have the pick of the litter! However I think it would show too much favoritism. I want to adopt EVERY dog, so I actually foster dogs! That way I get to hang out with a variety of different dogs. Fostering allows me to impact more doggy lives!

thr33beggars94 karma

Who comes up with the names for the puppies?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan183 karma

Great question. The people who are in charge of taking care of them at the centers get to name them. The great thing about adopting a dog or cat is that you can keep the shelters name or you can rename them yourself!

zacxwolf93 karma

Are you aware of the campaign to have singer Ted Leo take your place?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan289 karma

Yes absolutely! I've listened to Julie Klausner. She's talked about it on air on her podcast. They're friends and they love Puppy Bowl.

To Ted I say: Hey man, come join me! Don't take my job, but be a second ref! It's not a one man job. 84 dogs. 300 poop bags. Need I say more?

Battlescarred9886 karma

What advice would you give an aspiring player who wants to make his or her way to the big game?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan194 karma

1- Be born in the summer time! If you're a summer baby, by the time we shoot the game in October you'll be the perfect age. 2- Have a lot of energy. 3- Don't get any obedience training! We want you fresh and untrained. 4- Be adoptable and a part of a good shelter! We'll get you out there and out to a good, loving home.

notoriousmrtom79 karma

Pancakes, waffles, or french toast?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan139 karma

French toast with lots of butter and syrup, and maybe some bananas. If I'm really hungry, then bacon on the side!

Nick993365 karma

In many professional sports 'flopping' is a hotly debated topic. How is flopping going to be handled at this year's puppy bowl?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan86 karma

Flopping always stir up a lot of debate, a lot of emotions. Unlike in human sports, flopping isn't looked down in Puppy Bowl. We usually turn a blind eye to flopping because it's just what dogs do!

stargazercmc64 karma

Who has been the puppy who left the biggest mark over your years as referee? Do you still see any of the puppies from past Puppy Bowls?

Also, what kind of Puppy Bowl halftime activities are prepared for this year?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan181 karma

Oh man, they've all left their mark! There was one sheepdog in particular named Ginger that went after my sock and nearly ripped it in half. It led to the creation of a new penalty: terrorizing the ref!

BottledDew59 karma

How do you keep from say "DAWWWW!" the entire time?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan122 karma

I try not too look down at their eyes. Once I look down at their eyes, I'm done for, so I try to look at their legs, the ball or their tails. I have to be careful when I bend down to talk to them that I don't get mesmerized. But I'll tell you, when the game clock stops and I'm down on the sidelines and the camera aren't on me, I'm the biggest cuddler there is!

TheGreatGuidini56 karma

Do you clean up the poop or does someone else?

How many times, on average, would you say the dogs poop during the game?

Has there ever been a dog that ate another dogs poop before you (or someone else) could clean it up?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan149 karma

  1. It's a group effort! We have up to 90 volunteers working on the show in addition to the crew. To put it in perspective, we went through 300 poop bags and 50 jumbo-sized rolls of paper towels!
  2. On average, once every five minutes. So if you've got a 2-hour game, you can do the math about how much poop might be on the field. We don't show it all though, because then we'd have to call it in the Poopy Bowl.
  3. They're puppies, they haven't been trained, so yes. We've even had puppies pick up poop and carry it into the endzone!

deltafeline47 karma

Do you have a dog or puppy? If you do, do you play ref with them?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan82 karma

We foster dogs in my family so I have a rotating cast of them in my home! We take dogs in for a little while until they find their forever homes. It's is a great way for people to get a feel for having a permanent pet.

And yes, I do play ref with them occasionally.

SFdubnation46 karma

Is there a specific pup to keep an eye on? Or are they all balls of furry cuteness?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan82 karma

This year, look out for Wrinkles the Shar Pei, ChiChi the chihuahua, and Bijoux the great Dane. They're awesome! There's also a player named Star and all I'm going to say is that she lives up to her name.

chaosinus45 karma

Have you read the puppy who lost its way? Btw, I love the puppy bowl thanks for being a part of it!!

PuppyBowlRef_Dan91 karma

Yep I remember that! It's a very inspirational story! Sometimes I read it to the pups in the locker room before they head out to the field to play the game.

SimplySabrina40 karma

Do you watch the Superbowl or the Puppybowl?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan75 karma

Both! As I said earlier, you don't have to choose one or the other! You can watch both on the same day!

albino_oompa_loompa38 karma

What do you do when you're not refereeing puppies?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan60 karma

I sleep! Because if I don't sleep now, I'll never sleep during Puppy Bowl season. Starting when this is shot in October, I never stop! From press to shooting other original video, it's a very intense time! You can goto the Puppy Bowl website to see some of those originals. Once it's all over, I sit back and just relax. My hibernation ends in the summer, when the planning for next year's Puppy Bowl starts!

NoMoreAnxiety35 karma

What's your favourite thing to have for dinner?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan85 karma

Hmmm... a really well-cooked burger. I don't mean well-done. I mean well-prepared with some cheese, avocado, ketchup and good fries.

LeatherHog29 karma

What do you believe is the best breed for puppy football?

PuppyBowlRef_Dan50 karma

All breeds are great for puppy football as long as they know how to play and can play safely. They're all welcome at Puppy Bowl! Every time you think one breed is good, another breed makes a big move. We've had great Beagles, Terriers, Shepherd mixes, even Chihuahuas on the field.