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portrait of french bulldog

Can I get my Pets to Behave During a Session? Canberra Pet Photographer

One of the biggest worries for prospective pet photography clients is their overall concern that their pets will not behave during the pet session.

It is not unusual for dogs to want to run around the moment that they are let out of the car and sniff what feels like every blade of grass and tree.  Their excitement is so infectious.  The first thing to recognise is this is their natural behaviour.

Especially if this is their very first visit to the location as it contains so many tantalising smells and scents.

This is the joy of a pet photography session in Canberra.

Some of the questions I get the most during my consultation sessions is how do I control my dog to stay still for the photos? How do I get them to behave? Will I need to use the leash to keep them under control?

First, animals have a mind of their owns, which makes it almost impossible for me to control them.  It does not matter what I do, if there is a foreign smell or scents, there is very little that I can do to get their attention again.  My preference is to let them explore.

While I have a good understanding of dog behaviour, my job as a pet photographer is not to take control of unrealistic situations rather it is to capture them while they being themselves.  These are the images that you will treasure the most rather than some artificially posed image that lacks any personality.

While some of my clients, their pets will sit and stay on command.  But for the vast majority of clients their pets do not have any knowledge of the command – stay, but rather would prefer to run around and explore the area if given half the chance.

So here are my secrets to having pets on their best behaviour during the pet photography session.

The key is good planning

I am a meticulous planner of every pet photography session.  It does not matter whether I am going to the same location or whether it is a new location.  I particularly like to visit any new location before the photo session so I have a good understanding of the light and where it falls at different times of the day, what distractions there are for the dog and where I will capture the best images.

So it does not matter how your dog is feeling, I can guarantee that I will capture some beautiful images because of this reconnaissance work.

For my photography sessions, I will go into the session with an idea about the type of photos that I want to take as well as where to take them to remove any uncertainty for the pets and the pet owners.

I will have ideas about certain poses for your dog if they are happy to cooperate with me.  If not I am also happy to take those great candid shots that bring out their personality.

portrait of french bulldog

What is natural for your dog

Trust is an important part of any photo session with your pets.  The first time that I get to meet your pet is at the pet session itself.  I will therefore spent the first 5-10 minutes getting to know the dog and the pet owner.  During these getting to know sessions I am understanding the dog’s behaviour and how they interact with their pet owner.

Dog running in a park

I also like to see if they how your dog interact if they are let of the lead and given a chance to roam freely.  If the dog has an issue with recall I will prefer for the dog to remain on-leash during the photo session.

But that is not an issue, as most of my dogs are photographed on-leash.  Thanks to the enjoy of Photoshop, I can remove the leash on your pet.

If your dog is a little nervous and quite timid, then I know that I will have to work really hard to build the necessary trust to ensure I can get the pet owners to step a side to allow me to take the photos.

Finally when your dog is roaming around I am keeping my eye on them to see if they love exploring or jumping on things.  If I notice this occurring, I will try to incorporate this in my photos, like standing on a log or tree stump or standing on a ledge.

Incentivise behaviour

My main aim when I meet your dog for the very first time is to spend some time with them to build up a relationship with them.  This involves getting to know the dog and letting them get familiar with my camera and photography equipment.

The worst thing to do at any pet photography session is to thrust a camera into the dog’s face and expect them to reaction well.

Once the photography session gets going, I will use a combination of my voice, noises and treats to get your dog to do certain things to ensure I get some good images.

I certainly do not mind making silly noises to capture the attention of your pet.

Belgian Malinois standing

Each situation and each dog requires something different.  Throughout the session I will use these commands and noises to try to get your dog to do things that I appreciate to get the photos that you will like.  I will also use regular breaks to help re-set the photography session.

Each pet will bring their own personality to the pet photography session.  These are just three of the hints that I will bring to the session to get the results and the photos that you want of your pets.

It is not about controlling your pet or getting mad with them rather it is about creating an environment that is conducive to holding the photo session.

Interested in having portraits of your pets?  Contact Alistair at Moist Nose Pet Photography for a free consultation.

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