Photographing Your Pets

My friends and readers seem to get a kick out of my pet photography, so I thought I’d share a few tips with you. Some may seem pretty obvious, but bear with me. ๐Ÿ™‚
you may or may not remember this post

Whether it’s one dog or two [or three!], photographing animals is pretty demanding. Typically I don’t have any assistance when I am working with my dogs [Daniel shuns my doggy dress up ways!], but it is always extremely helpful. Ask a friend to help hand you treats, round up the animals, keep them entertained, etc.
Have a pretty big stash of small dog treats. SMALL. You will be using lots of treats to get your dog where you want them, so make sure you the treats are small or you will go through way too many! Break up the bigger treats if you need to.
While holding a treat in your hand, command your pet into the pose you desire – or just get their attention to the lens. Lower your hand to ensure the pup obeys. I usually don’t give them the treat until I have told them to “stay” a couple times. You may have to go through this process many times until your pet notices the pattern.
 An example of having said “stay” multiple times.
**Note: Some dogs don’t care too much about treats. Buster prefers kisses and belly rubs when she does something right. ๐Ÿ™‚
If you are going to put a prop on or near your dog, you are going to need to train them to either a) leave it on, or b) leave it alone. This will take more treats. I tend to say “ah ah!” a lot to my dogs. They know that means STOP whatever it is they are doing. haha
Sometimes, if your pet is being fussy about glasses or a headband, the task is easier once you have the dog lay down. There isn’t as much balancing involved.
Or you can fuss at them so much they get bored and put their heads down. ๐Ÿ™‚
*Balancing is something you will need to teach your pet gradually. Buster was easy to train, but I only made her practice in short spurts. She would get bored and I would get frustrated if we went too long.
DO NOT take a photograph of your pet walking over to you. Usually their head is down and you see something like this:
The composition just isn’t that great…
DO take a photo of your dog running towards you. Those are usually pretty rad. ๐Ÿ™‚

You pretty much want to get in your pet’s face for the best photograph.
Be at their level.

Shots from above are only good if your dog is looking up at you. Those can be pretty amazing. ๐Ÿ™‚

I obviously don’t try to get my dogs to look directly into the camera, but if you ever want to do that, just put the treat or toy above the lens.
[thank you, captain obvious!]
**edit: My friend Shreya totally pointed out/reminded me of the Weird Noises method of getting a dog to look at you. ๐Ÿ™‚ Choose your moments carefully, though! My dogs aren’t amused by strange noises anymore. haha!
Also, this method works wonderfully if you are trying to get a dog to perk his or her ears. ๐Ÿ™‚
It’s how i get my best photos of Buster! [That, and going “Do you wanna…”]
My main advice for photographing animals – take TONS of pictures. For every 50 you take, there will only be a couple good shots. Patience is key. It usually takes me close to an hour to get just the right facial expressions and poses. Oh, and dogs need breaks, too. ๐Ÿ™‚
Let me know if you have any other tips! Good luck!
Here’s a short video of me attempting to pose my dogs for this photograph.
Back in Osa’s squirrlier pup days. ๐Ÿ™‚



  1. Aww, they are such gorgeous pups!

    I feel like I basically stalk my cat with my camera. He tends to look utterly bored in all of my photos, poor pet.

  2. I'm nutso when it comes to taking pix of my dog so thanks for the great tips! I haven't attempted to use props yet, but I foresee a photo session in the near future. I found your blog over at Bubby & Bean, and with these great pictures how could I not follow you?!!

  3. These are awesome and made my day! Haha. I need to start training Cho to balance things on his head…

    Another non-treat way to get your dogs to look up at you/the camera while you're photographing (Colin taught me this one), is to make weird noises as your taking the picture…they stop being distracted and look up at you at that point. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. ha! i can't beleive i didn't mention that one. i make crazy noises all the time. maybe it's because if you do it all the time [like i do…] they tend to stop. i'm editing now! thanks!

  5. Ooo, I love this! Great tips, and absolutely gorgeous pics of your pets. I love making funny noises to try & get my pets to look at the camera.

  6. This is such a great post, I love taking photos of my animals but I inevitably spend several hours working/playing with them and don't end up with anything that good. I'm definitely going to use these tips next time xo

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