It’s no secret that I love dogs! I basically let out a squeal every time we pass one on a walk. Plus, Jason and I have a chocolate lab named Bogart and he is our baby, so I totally understand that dogs are a member of your family! So you better believe that when I have clients ask if they can bring their dog to their engagement session or wedding day for some photos, my answer is always HECK YES! However, there are a few tips to follow to help you and your pup(s) have the best experience when including four-legged friends in photos!
1. Bring a dog handler: I think this is the most important tip of them all! Dogs are just like kids– they can only take a limited number of photos before they start to get bored. Plus, you don’t want your dog in EVERY photo, so it’s important to designate a friend or family member to come and take them back home. Since these are your engagement photos, you don’t need to be worrying about what your dog is doing or getting into. If you take engagement photos with me, I have the dog come for the first 15 minutes of our 90 minute session. Then the dog handler comes and takes the pup back home and we can continue on with photos! It’s a win-win!
2. Exercise before the photos: This tip will depend on your dog, but typically, dogs who have been cooped up inside all day or have gone on a car ride are ready to PLAY! But since we need them to be somewhat calm for photos, I always suggest a nice long walk a few hours before the photos! If that can’t happen, throwing a ball to get their energy out beforehand will definitely help! (Just try to not get them too muddy!)
3. Bring reinforcements: This can be treats or their favorite toy! I will say, I have quite the dog voice. (Think super high pitched and super annoying!) But it works every.single.time. So just know that if you have me take your photos and you include your dog, you’ll get to hear it! You can also bring their favorite treats or their favorite toy to use as bribes. I’ve held numerous squeaky toys and sticks to get the dogs to look at my camera and it works like a charm!
4. Plan for the unexpected: Remember when I said that dogs are like kids? Until you get them in front of the camera, you’ll never know how they are going to react. If you go into your photos knowing that your dog may not listen or may be completely uninterested in sitting still for more than 10 seconds, then you won’t get as frustrated. Remember that even the candid photos of you and your dog make for great photos!
Bringing water, especially if it’s hot is also a great idea! And it wouldn’t hurt to bring plastic bags for… well, you know! 😉
5. Have patience: I know that having professional photos taken can be intimidating, so when you add a dog to the mix, there is a chance for the chaos level to rise. Just know that it’s completely normal and we’ll definitely get a few shots no matter what! If you follow these tips, I’m confident we’ll be able to get adorable photos of you and your pup that will hang on your walls for years to come!
Bonus Wedding Day Tip: The same tips apply for having your dog in photos on your wedding day! Keep in mind though that your wedding dress is different (and WAY more expensive) than the clothes you wore to your engagement photos. So if you have a dog that likes to jump, it may be wise to skip the photos or have your husband hold the leash if you have a dress that will easily snag.
Enjoy a few more of my favorite photos from past engagement sessions and wedding days that include my couples and their adorable fur babies!