The best way to prepare your dog for professional photos is to make sure your pet’s fur is groomed before arriving for your photo session. If you need to book a grooming appointment, make sure you book it for a few days in advance. This gives their fur time to settle into its new style.
Trim their nails before your photos (or include in your grooming package) to make the pups look put together (with their nails did hehe) and avoids accidental red scratches for you and your photographer!
If your pet is fairly low maintenance and doesn’t need a full grooming, make sure to bathe them the night before and give a good brushing (then, cross your fingers they don’t find a mud pit in the meantime.)
Tip: Never book grooming session the same day as photoshoot. This may result in your pet being overly tired or stressed and unable to relax during the photoshoot
One of the most important dog photography tips in planning is to consider is location.
Choose a place where your dog will be comfortable.
If your dog is shy or nervous, your home or yard may be the best option.
Only consider a studio setting if you are confident your dog will do well in a new environment. If you choose an outdoor location, don’t forget to bring some water along so your dog won’t become overheated.
Be honest. Let your photographer know about your dog’s personality, especially if they can be aggressive toward new people or other animals. That way, your photographer will be able to prepare accordingly.
I have a dog run located in Fayetteville, PA (pictured in post). It is fenced in and secure so your dog can run leash free during our photos without worry for those sweet candid family photos! See full couples photoshoot with dog gallery here!
If you plan to feed your pet before bringing them to your photoshoot, it’s better to feed them half of their normal amount. (This tip is for healthy pets only. Check in with your vet first if your pet requires special feedings.)
There are going to be PLENTY of opportunity for treats in the hour or two we spend taking pictures. If your pet comes already full, they may be less motivated for treats and end up being harder to work with. Being a bit hungry will make sure they are more likely to focus when they know they’ll get a yummy treat as a reward.
You know your pet better than anyone. Depending on your pet’s energy levels, you are going to want to figure out how to best manage his energy to help him focus during the photo shoot.
If you have an active pet, it’s a great idea to exercise them before their photoshoot. For early morning shoots, take them on an extra walk or play session the night before. For later shoots, take them on a longer walk the day of their photoshoot. We just want to burn off a little bit of energy, but we don’t want them to be totally exhausted. We want them to still have some energy to explore and have fun so we can capture their personality.
On the opposite side, if you have a senior pet or a pet who prefers lounging all day long, it’s probably a better idea to just let them rest the day before the photoshoot. This way, they have energy leftover to play during their shoot.
Get your backpack ready because there are a lot of things to keep handy to keep your professional photos with your dog to run smoothly!
Think about what motivates your pet the most. You will want to pack a few favorite treats for your pet. (And you will want to bring twice as many as you think you’ll need. Either way, you’ll probably run out.) A good tip is to bring treats that have different levels of value. For example, you can use beef liver (good), cheese (great), and hot dogs (AMAZING!) as a level of reward depending on the energy we’re looking for.
If your pet is more motivated by toys, be sure to pack a few favourites.
Your pet’s regular collar that he normally wears and a standard leash will suit just fine as accessories. (Just to note, almost all dogs I take pictures of are on leashes. I just photoshop them out. So, opt for a thinner leash whenever possible.) However, if you want to have a little fun, bring along anything else you might want your pet to wear in the photos.
Definitely don’t forget to bring the basics: water (for you and your pet), poop bags, a brush if needed, and a hand towel just in case they get dirty or wet. Also, have fun! Go a little crazy and bring along anything else you could possibly think of that might add a little personality to your photos!
Don’t Stress. Have Fun!
This tip might be the hardest yet but DON’T STRESS! Don’t worry about your pet posing properly or being the perfect angel. Most dogs and cats I photograph are just regular companion animals with no special training.
A pet with personality is super fun to photograph and we want that personality to come shining through in the pictures.
Creating great pet portraits takes a lot of time and patience.
There will be a lot of waiting and repeating poses or shots several times. This is totally normal. It’s best to show up with a positive attitude and low expectations for your pet. Remember to have fun! Leave the rest up to me and I’ll guide you through exactly what to do the rest of the way.
There’s a lot of thought that goes into planning a photoshoot with your dog.
These are memories that you will have forever even after your loving companion has crossed the rainbow bridge. I do my best to make sure both you and your pet have the best experience during the whole process.
Just like people, every pet is one of a kind. If you still have concerns or worries that you just can’t shake, book a free consultation to chat about your pet’s unique personality and situation. I’d love to chat about how we can design a photoshoot you both will love. My goal is to make the whole process enjoyable and make sure you have amazing memories that will last forever.
For the first time ever I will be hosting Dog Run Minis in my backyard. These are perfect for families, couples, or individuals to get professional photos with their dog at an affordable price. Located in Fayetteville, PA on June 24, 2022.