Tips for bringing your dog to your engagement session

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Is a family photo really complete without your pups? When planning engagement sessions with my couples, I am asked frequently 'what is the etiquette when bringing a dog to an engagement session'. Personally I'm an animal lover, so any extra time I get to play with happy pups is time well spent. But not every photographer is as eager to bring them along. If your pets are hard to keep track of, they run off when they see another animal, or they are less behaved outdoors than indoors, sure, maybe it's not such a great idea to bring them along. Either way, I've got some tips to help you plan for the best session with your sweet animals without feeling overwhelmed or unsure how to capture the right moments. 

1. Bring treats

You probably already knew this one was coming. Taking photos is not exactly what they want to be spending a sunny afternoon doing. Running around in fields sounds like way more fun, but a little bribery can help get them to settle down. Whether you need them to look into the camera, or you want to have them follow behind you, a snack for them will do the trick every time. 

2. Mix it up

If they're feeling anxious and like they need to spend more time resting, let them! While they are taking their break, we will take those sweet photos of the two of you alone. Don't worry, my assistant Jem will be around to entertain your dogs so they don't feel left out ;) 

3. Grooming

If your dog needs a haircut every now and then, the best bet is to have their grooming done about a week before the session. That way they look fresh, but not hairless!

4. Get there early

If they are typically a big ball of energy, arrive to the shoot 20 minutes early and let them run, explore, and sniff away. When we start shooting, they will feel more adjusted, giving us more opportunity to get those solid family portraits.

5. Be prepared

In addition to treats, bring their toys to keep them entertained when you're getting shots without them. Do they look especially cute in a sweater? Bring it for a shot or two! And because they're dogs, some baggies for cleanup are always a good idea. 

6. Go with it

At the end of the day, your dogs has a mind of their own. Don't worry about the picture perfect moments if they aren't having it. Let them make you laugh. If they can't be on camera more than a pose, so be it. The session is more unpredictable with an animal, but they are also inherently more fun.