As a nation of pet lovers, we love nothing more than photographing our dogs and creating memories with them. However, there are a few things to consider when preparing to photograph your dog, such as training certain behaviours and getting them used to the sights and sounds of the photography equipment.
Getting your dog comfortable around photography equipment
Photography equipment such as cameras, lenses and tripods can be scary for your dog if they haven’t seen these items before. Cameras will often make a noise or flash when a photo has been taken, so it’s important to make sure your dog is comfortable with this before setting up a photography session. This will also set you up for a successful session where your dog looks happy and relaxed in pictures.
To get your dog used to the equipment, start off by placing the items on the floor at some distance away from your dog. If they go over to investigate or sniff them, you can reward them with a treat. If your dog is not particularly interested in treats and is more motivated by toys, encourage your dog to play with their toy near the equipment. This will help your dog to build a positive association towards it and make them feel more relaxed around it.
Now lift your camera off the floor and point it slowly towards your dog. Repeat this step a few times and be sure to reward them for their calm behaviour. It’s important not to force the camera at them, and if they display any sign of nervousness or avoidance, go back to placing it away from them.
Next, you’ll want to get your dog used to the sound and flash the camera might make. Start off by pointing the camera away from them and taking a picture to activate the flash. When your dog notices the flash and remains calm, reward them with a treat. Follow up by taking a picture of your dog with the flash on. If your dog shows any fear or avoidance, it’s best to avoid using it, or you can try to make them feel more relaxed around this. Some dogs can be noise sensitive, so try to make this a positive experience for your dog.
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Top tip: Get your dog’s attention with a ‘watch me’ and ‘stay’ cue
Getting your dog to respond to a ‘watch me’ cue is a helpful way to get their attention, especially when photographing them. See our training video on teaching your dog a 'watch me’ cue.
In addition to this, there may be times when you need your dog to stay in certain positions to photograph them from a distance. Discover our training video on teaching your dog a ‘stay’ cue.
Taking a selfie with your dog
In addition to photographing our dogs, many of us enjoy taking pictures with them too – often in the form of a selfie. Our step-by-step guide details how you can set your dog up for a successful selfie.
Step 1: Teach your dog to sit next to you
Teaching your dog to sit next to you can help when taking a selfie with them. If they already know a ‘sit’ cue, you can use a treat to encourage them to come to your side instead of in front of you. Gradually lower yourself when they sit so that your head is level with your dog’s. You can then begin to introduce your phone to the situation.
Step 2: Get your dog used to your phone
Dogs can often be wary of things being raised up, over or above them – and your phone may be one of them. Therefore, it’s best to turn this into a positive experience for your dog so that they feel comfortable. Start off by sitting next to your dog with your phone held out in front of you, before giving them a treat. Gradually hold the phone further away and continue to reward your dog for remaining next to you.
Step 3: Get your dog to look at your phone
If you have someone available to assist you, ask them to get your dog’s attention so that they look towards the direction of your phone. Alternatively, if you don’t have anyone to assist you, make use of certain items to get their attention, such as a ball holder which can attach to your phone.
Step 4: Use the burst mode setting
Some dogs can be more likely to fidget which makes posing for a picture challenging. Using a burst mode setting on your phone will allow you to take multiple images, enabling you to choose one that you like.
Step 5: Use the timer button
Placing your phone on timer mode can be useful if you’re looking to capture more of the background in your images. Your phone will give you some options for how long you want to set the timer for – we recommend at least 10 seconds so that you have enough time to encourage your dog to look towards the direction of your phone and get ready to pose!
Most importantly: Read your dog’s body language
Most importantly, never force your dog to take a selfie with you. Always remain vigilant of their body language and allow them to participate freely in the activity. If they appear uncomfortable at any point, allow them to move away.