Man’s best friend. Our four-legged child. Dog life is the best life. There are few things in life we love more than our pets. For many of us, they are our first childhood companions and may even qualify as our first “serious relationship” as we age into adulthood. While we try to rear our children into well-rounded human beings, we have no qualms spoiling our pets rotten.
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
I’m a dog person, myself. The snuggles, the tummy rubs, the “kid at Christmas” excitement when I walk through the door… it’s like a hug to the heart every single time. Unfortunately, I lost my sweet, crazy Goldendoodle a few weeks ago and all I can do is wish I had taken more photos of her later in life. Her puppy stage was well-documented, believe me, but once my photography business started growing I found less time to turn the lens towards her fluffy, scruffy face.
No, I don’t mean to make you sad or turn the mood somber here. I’m sharing this with you all so that you will know how compassionate I am towards couples who want to get professional pictures taken of their dogs or pets. I l-o-v-e when a bride and groom want to snap some wedding photos with their dog. I always encourage my clients to incorporate their dogs into their photo sessions if they’re so inclined, and many of them have been!
Having photographed several couples with their dogs in tow, I want to share what I’ve learned along the way in case you’re planning a photo session with your own fur baby!
Before taking professional photos with your dog, you should definitely consider…
Prepping Your Pets
As the famous quote goes “success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” You’ll have the opportunity to capture forever photos of your furry friend during our session, but beforehand, I recommend preparing both your pet and your go-bag with some strategic supplies.
Another important consideration: the type of photos you are taking. Wedding photos and family lifestyle sessions are very different in terms of environment, formality and timing. These differences require you to prepare your dog and yourself in different ways before the day of your session.
- Practice commands with your pet before your session. No, you don’t need to hire a trainer. Just a few simple commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “lie down” will be extremely helpful for getting them to cooperate in front of the camera.
- Groom them one to two weeks in advance of your session. Just like people, fresh haircuts usually need to grow out a touch before they’re just right (This can be breed dependent. Use your best judgement — if your dog looks better right after a blowout, then roll with it!).
- Brings treats if your dog is food motivated.
- Pack their favorite toy(s) to get and hold their attention. Toys can also give comfort if they’re feeling unsure about the situation, or provide playtime fodder after they’ve finished modeling for the camera.
- Practice, practice, and practice some more! Set up a digital camera or remote-enabled camera phone to try snapping some photos using the commands you’re trying to teach your pet.
Preparing Dogs for Wedding Photos
Is there anything cuter than watching a dog prance down the aisle at his owner’s wedding? While Fido is sure to solicit some bona fide “awwws” from your guests, it’s important to think over a few logistics first. Before signing up your doggie for ring duty, consider the following:
- Be sure your ceremony site allows pets. This may seem like a no-brainer, but this one sneaks up on couples especially if they think of including their pet in their ceremony later in the planning process. If your ceremony venue does not allow pets, other options for pictures with your pet include:
- Going to a secondary location before or after the ceremony
- Having them with you for the “getting ready” portion of your wedding day
- Your engagement session
- Your pet’s personality. Dogs are like us — some are shy, some more outgoing. Before you introduce your pet to a large crowd or expect them to play a starring role in your ceremony, think of their personality first. If they’re well-behaved and trained, you’ll have a better chance of things running smoothly than a dog that gets anxious around strangers. Include your dog in your engagement session or a smaller, private portion of your wedding day instead if they’re on the shyer side or have a tendency to get aggressive.
- Your pet’s safety. Nobody thinks of weddings as high-risk environments, yet for dogs some precautions must be taken. If you’ve picked out a cute outfit for your dog to wear, keep it simple with a bow tie or flower collar. You don’t want anything too restrictive that could become a choking hazard. Also, be sure to check with your florist that all of your wedding florals are non-toxic to dogs.
- Inform your guests. It is considered good etiquette to let your guests know if a dog will be in attendance in case there are any serious allergies or phobias at play. A simple inclusion of your plans on your wedding website should suffice. Otherwise, tell your wedding planner or day-of coordinator to spread the word as guests arrive.
- Hire a pet sitter. An extra set of hands on your wedding day is never a bad thing, especially when it comes to your fur baby! A dedicated dog sitter can bring your pet to the ceremony or photo site, help entertain them, offer food and water, and take them home when it’s time. Couples have so much to process on their wedding day, it’s a wise move to put your pet in capable hands so you don’t have to worry if they’re being cared for.
- Tell your photographer ahead of time. Photographers always like to know in advance of any special shots couples want to be sure to get out of their session. Tell your wedding photographer you want photos with your dog so they can allot enough time; they may even pack a squeaky toy or Scooby snack to keep Rover happy and get him to look right at the camera!
Want to book a photo session with Kathy Beaver? Click here to contact her today!