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How to Cope with Photographing Uncooperative Dogs

Photographing a dog that has little to no obedience training makes for an interesting photo session, to say the least. Uncooperative dogs fall into different categories: the relentless barkers and the hyperactive extroverts, as well as the shy and avoidant introverts.

Regardless of how your dog manifests his uncooperative behavior, it likely all stems from the same place — fear. The more uncomfortable and scared a dog becomes, the more signs of stress he exhibits, so your goal is to reestablish a sense of safety before diving into your photo session. If you’re dealing with an uncooperative dog, try the following:

  • Take a break so Payton can relax for a moment without the camera intruding upon his space.

  • If he’s bouncing off the walls and won’t calm down, try wearing him out first with a nice long walk or even a jog. Burn off that extra energy and you’ll quickly understand the phrase “a good dog is a tired dog.”

  • Ignore him at all costs — don’t pet him, don’t talk to him, don’t even look at him. Act as if he’s not even there and go about your business until he settles down. After he calms down, slowly get down on his level and let him come to you.

    Whether he’s barking or hiding out of fear, he needs to approach you on his own terms when he’s ready to do so.

  • If he refuses to look at the camera, try using the shy-dog desensitization technique and be patient with him.

  • Work the photojournalistic approach and don’t make him do anything at first. Just get down on the floor and follow his lead.

  • If all else fails, you may have to teach Payton some basic obedience skills like “sit” and “stay.” He may surprise you with how quickly he picks up basic commands. After he has learned to sit and stay, he’ll be a modeling pro in no time!

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