Do you have a furry friend you consider an important part of your family? We do, too!! Our dog Dickie is such an integral part and beloved member of our family. We love including him in our family photos and I can also relate to the nuances for bringing pets along to a photo session! I have photographed many sessions and weddings that have included furry friends so I’ve learned a thing or two about which extra steps and preparations make the session go as smooth as possible! I wholeheartedly share your desire to include your furry friend, so I wanted to share some helpful tips on how to make the process as successful and stress-free as possible!
Before the Session
- About a week prior, groom your pup so they’ll look their best the day of the shoot!
- Some places have restrictions for bringing pets, so be sure to check that the location or the venue is pet-friendly. Also, pick a location your dog will be comfortable in. For example, if they are timid or easily distracted by other dogs, cities or busy parks may not be the best options!
- On the day of the session, take your dog for a walk or the dog park! The goal is to tire them out beforehand! I know our dog is less-excitable and more cooperative when he’s properly exercised.
- Consider getting a nice accessory for your dog that compliments your outfits! It could be a nice bow, a collar, or a floral accessory. Leather and neutral colors photograph beautifully (avoid bright colored leashes and collars).
- To feed or not to feed beforehand? I have seen recommendations for both and as a dog owner, I say you know your dog the best. If feeding them makes the sluggish and wanting to take a nap, skip the feeding beforehand. Also, some dogs with empty bellies may be more willing to listen and pay attention to treats and commands. If they are more likely to be extra energetic when hungry, then you definitely would want to feed them! So, base this decision on your dog’s tendencies.
- Pack the bag! Here are some of the essentials to bring: water & bowl, lots of treats, waste bags and their favorite toy(s).
- Review the basic commands, especially if they are not regularly used.
- Find a friend or a family member to bring along to help!! This is probably the biggest factor in making the session a huge success! This truly allows you to be able to enjoy the session without having to worry about your pup. The extra set of hands is so invaluable in helping to get the pup’s attention for photos to taking them for a walk while you get some more pictures done. This truly allows you to be able to enjoy the session and that is the goal!
- Give your photographer a head’s up that you are interested in bringing your pup! They might have some insights, for example about the location that would work best.
During the Session
- Go with the flow and remain flexible with the expectations to have your dog in a very specific pose. We’ll document the interactions as they unfold and this should be the fun part! Let your dog be their self and let their personality shine in the photos. There are days our dog will sit still and pose, but I can’t tell you how many times he has just wanted to sniff around when outside or look out the window when inside… Leaving me with plenty of sweet images, but none where he’s actually looking at the camera! Which brings me to treats!
- Always bring treats and a toy for bribery! This will help in getting them to look towards the camera! If you have a squeaker toy laying around, definitely bring it along, too!
- Lastly, at what point during the session should your pup be included? If it is an engagement session and you will have two outfits, you are likely wearing the formal one first when your hair and make-up is most fresh, so your dog could join towards the latter portion of this first outfit, or during the last 15-30 minutes session. This way you can get on the ground with them without having to worry about getting dirty or hair on your outfit and just enjoy spending time together!
Bonus Wedding Day Pro-Tip:
If you are interesting in your pet being a part of your wedding day, but worried about whom to assign the responsibility of walking, feeding and looking after them, consider hiring a professional wedding pet attendant (yes, there really is such a thing!)! The handler will take care of your pup during the day allowing your pet to be a part of the day without any worries! If you are in the area and interested in these services, I am happy to provide vendor recommendations!
Do you have additional tips? Share them below!