I LOVE dogs. Absolutely love them. I have two of my own, and am obsessed with taking photos of them, and including them in any of my little family’s photo sessions. We’re kind of a hot mess, but in a cute way. Taking your engagement photos with your dog is something I love, but also something you need to be prepared for.
You might want to have your dog in a handful of photos of you and your partner, but probably not all of them. Bringing someone along to your session is a great way to reduce stress when they aren’t being included in photos. A lot of people will tie up their dog to a tree, leave them in the car, or have me hold onto them for a while. This can work sometimes, but it doesn’t allow any of us to be as fully in the moment. Dogs don’t often like being tied up, people approach them, cars can get too hot, and I’m trying to focus on YOU! Let’s reduce the stress, and find someone who can be fully focused on your dog while we are doing our thing.
Fact: dogs love treats. Dogs will be MUCH better listeners if they know they are going to get a reward! Especially if it is a high-value reward like cheese or chicken, or Happy Howie’s rolls. We are likely going to be in a new environment for your dog, and around lots of new people. Having a tasty treat on hand will help them focus just long enough for us to get the perfect photos.
Is your dog a little more reserved? Maybe bringing them to a bustling area like St. Anthony Main isn’t the best place for you to bring them. Would they rather lay on the couch with you during a Netflix binge than go on a long walk? A long hike to a scenic overlook may not be for them! You know your dog best, and what they can handle. We want to make sure we are setting them up for success, rather than bringing them into a situation where everyone is going to feel frustrated. Sometimes the best option can be having your session, or at least part of your session, in your home!
Not all leashes are made equally. Some can be fun and cute for your morning walk around the neighborhood, but not something you necessarily want be in your engagement photos forever. And unless you are doing an in-home session, or a dog park session (which honestly sounds really fun!), your dog will likely have to be on a leash for most photos.
Having a dark, solid-colored leash is often best, as it does not take the attention away from you in the photo. I can edit out leashes when needed, but having a nice-looking leash will keep all of your photos looking great! Some of my personal favorite dog leashes that I use with my dogs are from Stunt Puppy (a local brand!) or RuffWear. Bonus if you have a cute, matching collar!
If your dogs are anything like mine, they have a LOT of energy! It’s not realistic for us to expect them to behave if they haven’t had any exercise yet that day. Go for a round of fetch in the park, or digging out treats from a snuffle mat. It’s important to make sure your dog is coming into this experience good and tired. They will be a much better listener, more calm and focused, and just happier in general!
Your dog probably isn’t going to be a perfect little angel during your engagement session. They might jump up on someone (probably me, because I’m a terrible instigator), they might bark at another dog, or not listen when you tell them to “sit.” But we aren’t here to capture some “perfect” image of what we think our dogs should be. We are going to make sure you remember this moment in life exactly as it is, quirks and all. I promise you I won’t get frustrated with you or your dog if all I get is photos of their butt. But if you trust the process, I know you will get photos of you and your dog that you absolutely love!