Bringing your dog to your photoshoot? Here's what you should know.

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One of the most commonly asked questions I get about engagement shoots is “can I bring my dog”? Um, YES! is always my answer. It’s no secret I’m an animal lover. After adopting Penny, one of the first things we wanted to do was take a million pictures with her. We get it. A family portrait isn’t complete without your sweet pup. But what’s the etiquette? How do you properly bring your dog to a photoshoot without overwhelming you, the dog, or your photographer? I’ve got some tricks in my back pocket!

The Do’s:

1. Bring Treats

Duh! It’s easy to convince buddy to sit and stay if you have a little bribe in hand. Bonus tip: this works with kids as well!

2. Grooming!

Just like humans need a little trim before a shoot, so do some dogs. BUT, just like we look a little too clean cut after visiting the salon, again, so go your dogs. Get them into the groomers at least a week before the shoot so they can grow into their new ‘do. Sometimes if they’re too perfectly shaven they won’t look like themselves!

3. Get There Early

Jem says when Penny gets sniffy and wants to smell all the new smells, she’s just reading the paper! Let your dogs do the same, especially if it’s somewhere new to them. Get there at least 15 minutes early to let your pet read the paper. They’ll feel more calm and adjusted once they get all the smelling out of the way.

4. Practice Sit

A bit of practice before the shoot will help tremendously! If you don’t already, associate “sit” with a really really tasty treat. Come shoot day, they will have great listening skills.

The Don’ts:

1. Make It All About Them

If your dog becomes uncomfortable or starts to act out, it’s okay to take him out of the photo for a bit. Let him rest. Don’t expect him to be in all your photos. And don’t expect him to look right at the camera for every shot!

2. Show Up Without Toys

Treats sometimes aren’t enough! Make sure you have all the interesting toys on you. Some of my clients have purchased brand new toys specifically for photoshoot days to bribe their dogs into better behavior. Again, bonus: this also works for children.

3. Set Expectations

If you’re bringing a dog into the shoot, it’s not going to go as you expect. Period. Don’t force the session one way or another. The fun of theses shoots are how unpredictable they can be! Don’t get flustered, just enjoy a little more laughter than usual.

All in all, still check in with your photographer! If you’re hesitant, maybe it’s not the best idea to bring them. Ask your photographer additional questions if you have them and consider even bringing a third person to be there to help you if needed, especially if your photographer doesn’t already have an assistant!