Control Dogs during Photo Sessions - dummies

Control Dogs during Photo Sessions

By Kim Rodgers, Sarah Sypniewski

Keeping in line with the goal of taking a dog’s picture as being a fun experience, try to follow your dog’s lead as much as possible. Ideally, having your dog off-leash in a secure and familiar environment (like your home) and using commands (if he knows any) is the way to go. If that won’t work, try these tips and tricks to ensure Milo hits his mark:

  • Choose your leash wisely. If you’re in a session with an uncooperative dog (or if you’re outside in a nonsecure environment), break out a retractable leash to hold him where you want him. Editing out a retractable leash during postprocessing is easier than editing out a thicker nylon leash.

    Always use caution when using a retractable leash though; know how to lock the leash so you can stop him if something triggers him to take off.

  • Use a wrangler or two. Having an extra person or two during a photo session really helps. After all, someone needs to hold the leash while you’re behind the camera. If you have two extra people, one can hold the leash while the other stands behind you with a squeaker or treat to get the dog to look at you.

  • Use treats creatively. This technique works in a studio setup, but it can be useful in any setting if you have a fearful or stubborn dog on your hands. Sometimes, dogs refuse to come onto the backdrop paper because it scares them, so toss treats from afar onto the paper and allow them to find the treats at their own pace.

    Don’t drag or force them onto the paper; it’s much better if they’re allowed to approach it on their own terms. Desensitizing them can take a while, but when they finally come around, it’s well worth the effort!

If you find that you’re still having a hard time after trying all these ideas, don’t force the situation. Move on to another activity and come back to the photo session later. Remember to keep the fun factor high and the frustration factor low!

Always treat your dog with love and respect. It’s not just the right thing to do; if you don’t, you’ll probably find yourself on the sharp end of the golden rule.

  • Never hit, yell, or otherwise punish a dog during a photo shoot (you should never hit at any time).

  • Don’t approach a dog from behind; you may startle him.

  • Don’t take a treat or bone from a dog (unless you’re working with your own dog and you’ve trained him to release his items to you when asked).