Sam Coral Photography

Why your dog doesn’t need to “behave” to get perfect photos

Ever feel like your dog is just so unfocused, you’ll never be able to get a nice photo of them?

You see professional photos of people’s pets in framed photos, on social media, and on photographer’s websites, and think, “My dog would NEVER be able to pose like that, especially for someone else. They don’t even pose nicely for me!”. Well, I’m here to tell you that you have nothing to worry about.

There are some key steps that your pet photographer can take to help you (and your pup) get those showpiece photos and I’m here to let you in on all of the secrets!

obedient dog sitting and looking up at owner

First off, what are some of the most common reasons your pet might have trouble posing perfectly?

  • Overstimulation and excitement. Sometimes a dog (and especially a puppy) just is not able to sit still and focus because they’re SO excited about where they are and what they’re doing. 
  • Uncertainty and Anxiety. Being in a new place, with a new person and a weird gadget that makes clicky noises can be weird! 
  • Testing the boundaries. Being in a new situation, some dogs might have trouble generalizing the rules they know to a new activity/place/person. Or maybe they do know the rules, but just want to test if they really apply here.

I know what you’re thinking. “Well, great, now what? How do I make sure nothing goes wrong?”

Well here’s the thing. It's totally normal for your dog to have trouble with one or all of those things.

If you’re working with a photographer who has experience with all sorts of dogs and their unique characteristics, you have nothing to worry about. I know what I’m doing and I’m here to help you get the best possible photos of your pup.

Here’s how I get around any of these potential issues:


CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIMING AND LOCATION

One of the benefits of working with a professional pet photographer is that we know how to create an experience that will have your pet thriving in front of the camera.

First, we’ll have a planning call before your session to go over any special needs or quirks your pet has and work together to create a custom experience. This will include a location within Ottawa that will be best for your pet (you know them best!), as well as take into consideration some of their favourite places and activities.

If your dog is nervous or reactive, we'll choose an Ottawa location with limited distractions to help them feel at ease and be able to focus on our session! 

cat laying on back floating over ouija board
golden puppy sitting on grass in park with blue bandana

POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT

Your dog could get bored modelling for photos, and with good reason. They don’t know that we’re capturing GORGEOUS photos of them, they just know that you keep interrupting their walk time while you ask them to stay put and keep looking at some strange gadget.

But at my photo sessions I use positive reinforcement and give pets LOADS of treats to keep them engaged and having fun. We'll also reward any nervous nellies with treats, toys, and all the cuddles to encourage them to be brave. Making sure the dog is having fun and feels like they're doing a good job is super important.


KEEP YOUR DOG ON A LEASH

My biggest secret… Did you know that I photograph 90% of dogs on their leashes? If I hadn’t told you, you’d NEVER have known! This is primarily to keep them safe, but also it's super helpful for posing dogs.

They might get distracted by a noise, a person, or a squirrel; they might just feel like running around or are wanting to get just that little bit too “out of focus” close to the camera. You won’t even notice afterwards as I photoshop the leash out of the portraits when I edit. This helps us get more control of the photographs that we’re taking and get you the best possible shots.

corgi standing in forest with fall leaves on a leash
Before Editing
corgi standing in forest with fall leaves after editing out leash
After Editing

BUT WHAT IF MY DOG REALLY CAN'T BEHAVE?

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. On top of all my regular tricks, I’ve got one more up my sleeve. I will read your dog and follow their lead.

They’re super nervous? We’ll spend some time at the beginning just making them feel at ease (and getting them comfortable with the camera equipment). If they’re not comfortable doing something, we’ll never force them.

They’re over posing? We take a break. Your dog is bouncing around all hyper and won’t stay still or calm? We’ll limit rewards that are too exciting and spend some time letting them run around on a LONG leash to burn off some of that energy.

It’s all about being patient and reading their cues. They’ll let us know how they’re feeling and that’s how we can get the best possible photos of them, while still capturing their personality.

boxer dog standing on grass in backyard
doodle dog sitting in front of white backdrop

LET’S CHANGE WHAT WE CONSIDER “MISBEHAVING”

Lastly, what you may consider misbehaving and naughtiness isn’t really anything bad! Once your dog is outside, it’s not that they’re wanting to disobey you, they’re just SO excited and experiencing sensory overload (especially with having a new person there with them).

They want to sniff new objects, chase small animals, bark at unfamiliar items, and just let off some steam. That's just normal dog behaviour!

The key isn’t to view these actions as disobedience but as little personality quirks. These quirks made you fall in love with your dog to begin with, and photos showing these quirks will be treasured memories in the future.


Working with a professional definitely helps make the experience a positive one for both you and your canine-friend because we can use our vast knowledge and past photoshoots to help guide both you and your dog. Not only will I create gorgeous photos of your dog at our session, but they will have an absolute blast while I do it.

Sit back, relax and let me worry about getting those amazing photos for you. Still think your dog is just that much too unruly for a photoshoot? Book a free consult call to tell me all about your dog’s unique needs and chat about how we could make a photo session super fun for them.


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sam@samcoralphoto.com
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514.248.1522
Ottawa Pet Photography