You let them sleep in your bed, have a curated slideshow of them on your phone, and couldn’t imagine any part of your life without them. Naturally, you want them to be in your engagement and possibly even in your wedding photos.
Photographing your pupper can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. In my experience, dogs can sometimes get very weirded out by the sound of the camera shutter. They can only look at the camera for a short amount of time before they are "over it" and just want this to stop. It’s already hard enough to get the perfect photo and emotion you want out of humans; adding a dog to the mix makes the task a bit more challenging.
But that’s not to say it can’t be done. I'm gonna share some tips with you that will help make our time together with your fur baby fluid and effortless.
Bring treats and toys!
My secret to getting the dog to look at the camera is to let them smell the treat, ask them to look, put the treat above my lens, take the shot, and then reward them. However this will only work for the first 10-15 minutes of the shoot before they no longer want to participate.
I recommend tossing them a treat or two to reward good behavior or when they're looking like they need a pick-me-up. You think you're the only one who's exhausted by all this picture taking? lol
Bringing toys or balls to throw for them is also important. A lot of the times it gets them in a fun, playful mood while also distracting them from the fact that there is a creepy camera man making weird clicking noises and running around in the water with them. Also yes, i'll be running around trying to snap some epic action shots of your pup belly flopping into the ocean.
Confirm that pets are allowed at your shoot location.
This one is a time saver! While most public parks will allow pets, you might have trouble including your pup at a shoot at the botanical gardens or on the manicured lawn of a historic estate, as well as at any indoor facility. Always call ahead of time to confirm that your four-legged ones are welcome!
Make sure the location will be comfortable for your pup!
I always recommend to choose a location that is meaningful/familiar to their dog, like the dog’s favorite park, beach, or hiking trail. That way they are more comfortable and at ease. If your heart is set on a location unfamiliar to your pup, try to take them there a couple of times before the shoot to get them accustomed to the space.
While a summer shoot in the city may seem like the perfect weather to showcase your little white dress, hot pavement streets might prove uncomfortable for you pet's naked paws after some time. Similarly, a winter wonderland shoot in the snow could prove less than scenic for dogs unaccustomed to the cold, and even painful for those sensitive to the salt sprinkled on icy streets.
Dress the part... (Optional)
As cute as your pooches are naturally, there's nothing wrong with having them dress the part in a puppy tux, bow tie or a fun fall sweater. Having a flower-filled fete or a garden-themed wedding? Give guests a glimpse of the nuptials by adorning your pet with a flower garland or a leaf wreath.
...but don't overdo it.
Playing doggy dress up? Keep pup accessories to a minimum with simple bow ties and collars in lieu of onesies. If you do go for a full tux look, make sure that the clothes don't create any discomfort for your canine. If you go with collars or floral wreaths, make sure that they don't pose a chocking hazard or are toxic to your pet. (Ask your florist to help you source a safe option if you do want to use real blooms). We don't wan't your dog to keel over while your walking him/her down the aisle... that would suck.
Avoid long sessions.
Limit pet participation to a short segment or in short spurts—especially if you have a young or a particularly energetic pet. After some time, they're bound to lose interest and stop behaving altogether, giving you less of a chance for a good shot. I think its safe to assume that at some point your pupper will start resisting certain posed shots.
Be realistic, have fun, and relax!
Don't get stressed out if the unexpected happens and your pet starts misbehaving or refuses to sit still and look at the camera. Remember that although posing your dog for the camera is cute, I promise you that the best shots, (the ones you will obsessively re-post on social media) are going to be the ones where your interacting with your pup the same way you would in real life. Allow your pet to get used to the new environment and play and interact with them like you do at home to get them comfortable. This is when bringing treats and toys comes into play. If your dog refuses to participate, even for a short period of time, don't let it ruin the entire shoot! Scratch the pet portion, have your future hubby temporarily tie him/her up to a tree or let them play around in the water and enjoy the solo session with your partner!