Smile for the camera! A crash course in dog photography handling

Updated: Jan 6

You’ve booked your engagement or family photoshoot with your favourite photographer.

You’ve got a Pinterest board full of wardrobe and pose inspiration.

You’ve likely driven your significant other nuts about coordinating outfits (you’re not the only one, I am 100% guilty of this!)

But what about your dog?

Enter the easy to assemble kit that you will need to ensure your dog stays comfortable and looking cute for the camera!

This kit should include:

-Poop bags

-A prized toy your dog loves or perhaps a new toy in addition to a loud toy that a photographer might use to capture your dog’s attention.

-Food bribery, this one is crucial, and I highly recommend using something small, and a quick two bites for your dog to eat, or else many of your photos might feature your dog chewing on treatos.

-A dog brush

-Linen brush

-Towel...because muddy paws happen!

-Your dog’s attire for the photoshoot and an alternative leash. I am a fan of leashes that are neutral colours; a black slip leash, leather, or BioThane leashes are great options for both functionality and presentation in photos.


The perfect photoshoot pregame formula!

Grooming. If your dog requires grooming, book this a couple of days in advance of your photoshoot. Grooming can be exhausting and stressful for dogs. There’s a delicate balance between a tired dog and a pooched pup!

Tire your dog out before the photo shoot. Tiring your dog out is essential for success! Seriously, walk your dog, play fetch or some activity that they love before you leave for the photoshoot. Shaking off some excess energy should aid in allowing them to settle and be handled for photos. When you depart for the photoshoot, make sure your dog is wearing its usual walking apparatus. Save the cute wardrobe changes for later.

Arrive at the photoshoot early. If your photoshoot is located at a park or public space, arrive early to allow your dog ample time to familiarize themselves with the area, have a pee break and settle.

The checklist. You’ve arrived at your photoshoot early, and your dog is all tail wags and curious about what is happening- Great! Now what? You are minutes away from starting your photoshoot; now for the quick checklist.

  1. Quick brush your dog

  2. Change your dog’s attire and leash.

  3. Prepare the bribery! Keep some treats tucked away in a pocket, or in the palm of your hand.

  4. Human check - quick linen brush yourself, do you look fab for the camera!?

Finally...Relax! Chances are, your dog will feed off of the energy you and the photographer bring to the shoot. It is very easy to get caught up in trying to get your dog into the perfect pose and looking at the camera at all times. Breath. Don’t stress. Great candid shots can be found when your dog looks at you adoringly instead of the camera. Let their dogonality (see what I did there) shine through! If you don’t get the specific pose you want initially, move to another variation or different pose entirely and return to it.


Pup tip! If you have specific poses in mind for your engagement or family photoshoot, discuss with your photographer in advance so they know exactly what you are aiming for. Additionally, have your inspiration on hand and saved on your phone to share with the photographer. Practise these poses weeks ahead of time in short intervals as if it was a training session, and make sure you praise your pup!

Having professional photos with your pup makes for beautiful memories that last a lifetime!

Black Dog & Company makes photography dog handling easy. We arrive at your photoshoot location prepared with a dog and human photoshoot kit. While you are taking couples’ or family photos, your dog will be spoiled with treats, belly rubs, the chance to explore the area on leash and have a pee break. We include unlimited dog wardrobe changes, brushing and water breaks to stay fresh and on point for the camera, and assist the photographer in keeping your dog’s attention! Black Dog & Company is attentive to your needs! We pay attention to detail and help the photographer make pose adjustments for both you and your dog. To book your photography dog handling services for your engagement and family photos, fill out Black Dog & Company’s meet and greet form today or email us woof@blackdogandcompany.ca!


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