Including your dog in your engagement photos is one of my very favorite of engagement session ideas. I get asked pretty frequently if my clients can bring along their fur babies to our shoots, and–spoiler alert–I am always totally down for that. I’m a huge dog person myself, so I totally get it. They’re our family! It makes total sense to want to have them be a part of your images. <3
I’ve learned some things over the years on how to make photography sessions with dogs be as successful as possible, though. There are definitely some things that you want to know ahead of time to set yourself up for success!
So, here are my top tips on how to (successfully) include your dog in your photography session:
Make sure your photography location is dog-friendly
You not only want to make sure that dogs are allowed on the premises, but also that it’s an appropriate environment for your dog and any personality challenges it may have. Easily distracted and alarmed by strangers? Maybe a park that’s usually packed at the time of day you want to do your session isn’t the best choice. Can’t be around water without immediately going for a swim? Choose a location that’s away from bodies of water!
You get the idea, here. Choose a location that your pup will be relatively comfortable with, to start. They’ll be happier, and you’ll be less stressed about your pooch biting some stranger-kid’s ankles!
Consider the season – and plan accordingly
It’s important to consider the physical conditions of your chosen location and how it will impact your pup. Areas with lots of concrete can get hot for little paws! Make sure to protect their paws with paw protectors like these, or choose a more paw-friendly location if you’re photographing in warm weather. As a general rule – if you can’t hold your hand to the concrete for longer than 2-3 seconds, it’s too hot for your pet to walk on!
Don’t be afraid to dress that pup up a little!
Doggie outfits are adorable. If your pet will tolerate one, bring it along and we’ll get some photos with it on! Maybe it’ll only be ONE before they decide they hate you forever…but one is better than none, sometimes…right?!
Bring dog treats!
This is so key! Especially if your dog is food-motivated. A treat can go a long way in getting successful dog photos! And it’s a really easy way to get them to look at the photographer (provided you maintain a firm grip so that they don’t lunge and run for it) 😉
Even if it’s not a hot day, some dogs have a thirst response to stressful situations – so be prepared! A pet water bottle like THIS ONE is easy to throw in your bag or around your wrist to quickly re-hydrate your furry BFF. AND, there’s no water waste – what they don’t drink goes right back into the bottle.
Avoid lengthy sessions – and bring a friend!
Dogs are a lot like kids – they’ve got a pretty limited attention span! Initially, they’ll be curious and fairly cooperative, but they won’t stay interested in becoming a cover model for long. Bringing a friend or family member along to help is a great idea. I usually recommend that your helper take your dog for a short walk to get their new-place curiosity satisfied while we warm up, and then circle back. Once we have some great images with all of you together, your helper can bring them home while we finish our session!
Have realistic expectations for your photos
Whatever level of success we have while including your dog in your engagement session photographs, there’s one thing for certain: their personalities will shine through. Embrace that! I usually get a least one “traditional” image of my clients with their dogs, but sometimes the best photos are the ones where everything went “wrong”. So, just embrace it! The point of having images with your pup is to include them in this time in your life, and remember them for years to come. Some dogs will behave better than others, but it’s a certainty that your dog engagement photos will be memorable!
I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips for successful dog engagement photos. If you’re a crazy dog person like me, and want to schedule a session with your pup – holla at ya girl! Click HERE to get the ball rolling with me, and say hi! <3