Preparing your dog for your session

Like most things you do in life, preparation is key to success. This is also true for a photo session. While spontaneity leads to some memorable and moving images, there are some things you can do to prepare your dog for his big day in front of the camera!


While it’s not imperative that your dog knows “sit”, “stay” or “down”, it will go a long way in helping to create a successful session. If your dog already knows these commands, practice them a couple of minutes each day for a few weeks beforehand. Besides, a refresher training session every once in a while is generally a good thing to do anyways.


Photo sessions are very exciting and filled with lots of energy. This can fuel the excitement in your dog’s behavior too. Take your dog for a short brisk walk, or toss a toy for her to chase a few hours before the session. The goal is to burn some of that excess energy off, but not to tire her out completely. We want her to still be playful, but not so tired that her tongue is hanging out from constant panting.


Safety is always my first concern. No dog is ever off leash unless their owner truly feels he will not run away. Typically, most of my client’s dogs remain on a leash throughout the entire session. But this is a good time to purchase a new collar and/or leash if the one you currently have is old, ratty or too dirty to get clean. If you like the ones you have, wash them the day of the session. With so many cute and fun collars out there, sometimes they can be incorporated into the session by matching them to your outfit! ! I also suggest removing tags like rabies and county dog licenses. Bring them with you to the session so you have them.

Harnesses can also be incorporated into a session by matching colors to your dog’s coat or your outfit. Typically I do not remove these in post editing, so if you’d like them not to be a part of your photos, we’ll take it off your dog right before I photograph him.


Just like we shower the day of a session, your dog should get a bath a couple of days before. Since bathing often leads to excess shedding, follow up with a good brushing. Don’t forget to trim her nails as well. If you have a dog that gets groomed regularly, schedule an appointment with your groomer about 2 weeks before the session. Often, it takes a couple of weeks after a haircut for her fur to grow out to just the perfect length.


If you have a dog that gets tear stains, ask your groomer to clean these up as well. Or wipe them as much as you can before the session. Some dogs, like scruffy terriers, have a lot of hair around their eyes. While it’s cute to let it grow long, for photos, it’s best if the area around their eyes is trimmed. You’re used to seeing your dog’s eyes, in photos it won’t look natural if they are covered.

There is no such thing as a perfect session, only because there is no right way to define perfect. But I hope these tips help you have one of the most memorable days with your (best furry friend)! After all, you’ll have images to always remember this day by.

Australian shepherd in shrubs

Trina BauerComment