Getting Your Dog to Sit & Stay For Photos
There is almost nothing more heartwarming than a dog posing for a picture. Which is why doggie photos are such a viral phenomenon. But when most dog owners look at these pictures the first thing that comes to mind, after the preliminary admiration, is how on earth did they get that dog to sit still long enough to capture this moment? It’s a valid question; and it's the one we are prepared to help answer. You just need a little patience and maybe a hand full of treats.
Train, Train, Train
The easiest way to fail in a DIY doggie photoshoot is to not prepare. There aren’t enough treats in the world to get your pup to pose perfectly on the first attempt. So if you are planning to photograph your pup plan ahead and start training in the weeks and even months beforehand.
Training for a photo isn’t exactly training for a photo. You won’t be telling your pet to “smile”, or “go stand in front of that sunset”. You will be training your pup to sit still and be patient. Use treats or other incentives and train your pet to sit and wait. Both are essential commands to know if you want them to be camera ready.
If you have already done this training with you pup you likely won’t need much time to prepare just perhaps take them outside and try the same patience training to get them used to responding to the commands in different locations.
If you have never done any training with your pet, or if your pet is a puppy, it is good to keep your expectations in check. You won’t likely be able to get them to do advanced poses or cooperate for extended periods of time. Instead start with a simple “sit” command and master that.
As time goes by and you continue to practice with your dog they will be able to sit longer, focus better and anticipate what you need them to do more. Nobody is perfect at anything when they are just beginning. This is no exception.
Pick your Backdrop Wisely
When planning to take a photo of your dog consider the location. If you are going to be venturing into new surroundings it is important to think about what it will be like for your pet. Dogs can be easily distracted or frightened by loud noises or other animals. If your dog is new to recall it is not a great idea to try and take a posed photo at a busy park. Start instead in your quiet backyard or an unpopular walking trail.
Of course, sometimes the perfect photo isn’t planned you just walk into a beautiful opportunity. If this is the case go for it; but don’t set your expectations too high or push it if it isn’t working.
What works for babies and kids can sometimes work for pups as well. If your dog is sitting fine but is distracted try calling out, snapping your fingers or jingling your keys to pull their focus. You will want to avoid anything too jarring as to not upset your pet but a little noise may be all the incentive they need to look at the camera.
Remember to Have Fun
Social media can put a lot of pressure on us to be perfect. You may really want your dog to sit and “smile” in front of a lake at sunset but they may be too tired, too playful or uninterested in humoring you. It’s important to keep perspective.
It is fine to train and prepare and hope for good shots and many times that is all it takes to make it happen. But other times you will get a silly photo of them turning their head with their mouth wide, tongue out and drool flying. Sometimes those candid, off-script photos end up being your favorite shots.
Thanks Abi for all your great tips and insight!
Did you just get a new pet? Capture all the puppy cuteness!
Mandy Whitley Photography is Nashville's premiere pet photographer. Mandy Whitley creates fun and playful photographs with pets and their people. She photographs portrait sessions, family sessions, couple portraits, and weddings - as well as just pets! To inquire about booking a photo session, contact Mandy!