You’re marrying the love of your life and it’s time to document this special moment with an engagement shoot. But there is no way your love story is complete without your furry friend, your best dog, the dog of honor! Having your dog with you for your engagement photos is something I will always encourage (duh! Have you met me yet?). But, I won’t lie and tell you that bringing your dog along will be all sunshine and roses! If they have a lot of energy or will dive right into the mud, things will get stressful fast! If you want to include your dog in engagement photos but aren’t sure where to start, here are my tips for preparing your pup for the session and all the things we can do to make sure the photos turn out amazing!
Just like you might get your hair cut and colored, purchase a new outfit, or get your nails done, your sweet furry friend deserves the same! Don’t sleep on getting your dog a good bath and grooming before your engagement session. Consider delegating this to a professional dog bather and take this task off of your plate. If your dog’s hair requires a lot more maintenance, make sure you are taking them to someone you trust and who knows how to cut the right look for your dog.
Try to avoid doing this the day of your shoot! This may cause overstimulation or excess stress and anxiety for your pup. If you take care of this prior to your shoot, all you’ll need is a good brushing in the morning to freshen up and your sweet love will be photo ready!
You know what they say: when you look good, you feel good! The same goes for our four-legged friends. Don’t be afraid to get that adorable doggo a new outfit! Consider getting a new neutral collar/harness and lead for your dog! This is especially important for those pups that don’t do well off-leash or if you’re not able to shoot in an off-leash friendly location. You don’t need some neon color or bright print clashing with your carefully curated color palette. At the same time, you want to be respectful of the dog rules at your engagement photos location. A collar and lead that fits your photos effortlessly is an easy way to tie together the look and ensure an enjoyable, safe experience!
Give some of your dog’s favorite treats to me during the session! I’ll use these to greet your dog before we get started, so that they feel comfortable with me. (And so I can make a new furry friend!) As we shoot, I’ll use those treats as an incentive and a reward for keeping your dog’s attention during the session. I’ll give out as many treats as you bring!! Your pup deserves a REWARD every chance you get, because come on… they’re a good dog!
We know that all dogs aren’t always food or treat motivated, so consider bringing options, like your dog’s favorite toy! If you have one with a squeaker, that’s even better! I can secure this to my camera, tuck it into my camera strap, etc., and this can help guarantee they look towards me as I take pictures!
If possible, make sure your dog is WELL exercised and run each day leading up to your shoot. If possible, you can take them out for some fresh air to stretch their legs and burn some energy the day of your shoot, too. Take every opportunity to ensure they have expelled any excess energy or stress before being asked to perform for the camera! This can keep things from getting too crazy for your engagement photos with your dog (although, a little bit of crazy energy is just classic, so don’t stress if it happens! It’s all part of the fun.😉)
Consider arriving at your shoot location early and let your dog get all of their excitement out of the way! I’ll help plan the timing of this with you. We won’t have to stress about losing light or our perfect backdrop if your dog is given the opportunity to explore, sniff around, and feel comfortable with our shoot location before I fire up the camera!
Give your sweet pup grace and patience! They are still a dog, and probably more interested in that squirrel that just ran across the road than a photoshoot! Don’t forget plenty of praise, lots of belly rubs, an overload of pets, and plenty of breaks when needed. Let them show up as who they truly are. Your photographer should be doing their best to document your sweet babe’s personality exactly how it is. Don’t expect your pup to be anything else. At the end of the day, they are still just happy to be with you! You just make sure they feel that unconditional love coming right back at them.
I LOVE dogs (of course! Who doesn’t?). I will always encourage you to bring them along for your engagement photos. Especially if that helps you and your partner feel comfortable and at ease, too! If you have more questions about how to get your dog ready for engagement photos, I have tons of tips and tricks. I can’t wait to talk about all of it with you! Reach out to me here.
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I would absolutely love to hear from you! I am here for all types of projects from Family Pictures, Weddings + Elopements, as well as Senior Portraits. I may be a photographer based in Bend, Oregon, but don't let that fool you. Will travel World Wide for FABULOUS projects + puppy breath!!!
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FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHY, WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY, ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHY, SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHY. BASED IN BEND OREGON. TRAVELS WORLD WIDE FOR FABULOUS PROJECTS + PUPPY BREATH.
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