5 Tips for Including Your Dog in Your Holiday Photos

Holiday & seasonal
Family Portraits with Dogs

The holidays are a time for families to come together and celebrate the joy of the season; your family dog isn't exempt from the festivities either! From stockings stuffed with bones to squeaky toys wrapped under the tree, your dog has many things to look forward to this holiday season. Fido can even join in the traditional holiday family photo or card. Whether you hired a photographer to take your photos in a snowy field or you're setting up a tripod for a DIY session, preparation is always helpful when including your pup in a photo session. Here are 5 tips for including your dog in your holiday photos this year:

1. Have Your Pet Looking Their Best

We all want to look best in our portraits, and our dogs are no exception. Plan for a grooming appointment the day before your photo session, and book it a few weeks ahead of time to ensure you get the date and time you want. Waiting until the day of can create an overbooked, stressful day for a pup. Don't forget to add in a nail grinding since the nails might show up in some of the close-up shots.

2. Stock Up On Dog Treats

Getting your dog to look at the camera can be the difference between an okay image and a great portrait. Be sure to pack your dog's favorite treats - and don't be shy! When it comes time to get your dog's attention, give the treats to the photographer. If you're taking your own photos, it will be helpful to have a friend along who can help focus your dog's attention. Once all the human family members are posed and ready, have the assistant -who is standing near the camera - bring out a treat to get your dog's attention. Be sure to get your dog's attention last because he won't be able to stay focused very long.

Bonus tip: Don't feed your dog a huge meal before the photo session. If he's stuffed, he won't be as easily swayed by the treats.

3. Take Your Dog for a Walk

Dog trainers, dog owners, and vets all know the secret to a happy dog: activity! An active dog is a happy dog. Be sure to walk your dog in the morning before a session, and don't stop there. During the session itself,  take breaks to walk around the studio or play a quick round of fetch. It will keep them comfortable while burning off any extra energy.

4. Beauty Rest

Research continually shows us that our canine friends experience a range of emotions and moods. A dog can have a grumpy day or a happy-go-lucky-everything-is-awesome kind of day. And just like humans, our mood can depend a lot on the quality and quantity of sleep we get. Before a photo shoot - which does require a bit of openness and patience on the part of your dog - make sure he gets a good night of rest. A well-rested dog is much more likely to be in a good mood and more tolerable of the posing and multiple shots during a session.

5. Consider Dog-Friendly Locations for Photos

Regardless of whether you hire a professional, a friend, or your Uncle Bob to take your photos, you are going to need to choose a location for your session. Does your photographer have a studio or are you aiming for an outdoor holiday scene? Ask yourself the following questions:

  •  Is the studio dog-friendly? Are there easily accessible outdoor potty spots? Is the studio "puppy-proofed?" Note that professional studios that specialize in pet photography should take extra precautions to make sure your session is enjoyable and safe. For instance, clients with dogs should never be booked with overlapping appointments; some dogs may be easily frightened by other dogs, which would not result in a stress-free session.

  • Is the outdoor location safe for dogs? Are there nearby roads that are busy? Doing a session in the middle of a busy street (a la The Beatles) isn't a great idea for Rover. If you are choosing a meadow or field for your photos, make sure that your dog won't be posing in any plants that are toxic to dogs. 

  • What is the weather? Is a snowy winter scene appropriate for small breed puppy? Probably not. Is your snowy scene good to go for your Husky? Sure. Consider all weather conditions (including temperature) for your specific dog. Not all dogs enjoy snow, but some love it. If your dog is petrified of any form of precipitation, it's best to avoid it all together.

If this is your dog's first photo session, remember to take the time to let him get used to the equipment and photographer. You'll be rewarded with great holiday photos!