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  • Writer's pictureBianca Jo

6 Tips For Family Portraits With Your Dog

If you are anything like me, your pets are very much a part of your family so it’s probably a no-brainer to think about including them in your next family portraits session. Before you go ahead and book your photoshoot, there are a few things to think about when bringing your pets for the session. Keep reading to find out 6 tips for family portraits with your dog.

Family walking their dog on the beach

1- Talk to your photographer first

This may not seem like a biggy, however, your photographer will need to know if you plan on bringing your dog for a few reasons. Photographing dogs can be pretty tricky and it's helpful to know in advance so the photographer can plan the session accordingly and give options for locations that are dog friendly. I typically choose 3 to 4 different areas at a given location as a guide for the flow of the session and knowing there will be a dog (or dogs) helps me plan out the scope of the session.

Family Portrait with their dog at the beach

2- Bring a family member/friend who will not be photographed

This one is a big one! I’ve been on a session before when a family hadn’t brought a person to help with the dog. I wanted to get a few shots without the dog and I had to step on the dog's leash so he wouldn't run away. Thankfully the dog didn’t try to take off as that would have been a big disruption during the shoot. To be on the safe side, bring someone who is dedicated to watching the dog (or dogs) so your photographer can get nice images with and without the dog and not worry about the safety of people and pets.

family walking theirs dogs on a trail

Close up of a white and black dogs face in the sand

3-Bring treats and/or toys

Having your animal's favorite toy or treat can make a big difference in how the session goes. It can be very hard to get a dog's attention and having a toy or treat can help with getting them to look in the right direction as well as manage behaviors. This also helps when your family member or friend that is with us can help get their attention with said toy or treat.

4- Grooming

Although the doggy may disagree, grooming your pooch the day before the shoot helps Fido to look his finest. It also allows you to prepare for the shoot ahead of time and gives your pet a chance to relax between big events (i.e. a bath and the photoshoot itself). The bathing process may also tire your pooch, which will be good for our time together the next day. If you’re hiring a professional groomer, schedule your appointment for either the day before or the day of!

Portrait of a dog

5- Pack early & be prepared

I highly recommend packing a bag of items needed for the shoot the day before to avoid any last-minute rushing! You’ll need: plastic potty bags, pups favorite treats, brush or comb for touch-ups, a water bowl (for Fido) and a water bottle (for you!), a small squeaky toy, wet wipes, and a dry towel.

6- Tire ‘em out

A tired pet is a behaved pet, so make sure to take your dog for a walk or let him out for a good romp before the session. Lower energy levels during the session will help your pet to be less nervous and easier to work with in front of the camera. If your pet is on the high-energy side, I even recommend a big romp both the day before and the day of to make sure they’re extra relaxed during the shoot!

Did you enjoy this family portrait session?! Let me know in the comments what your favorite part of this session is.

Would you like to do a family session here? I'd love to capture your family portraits, you can email me at or you can head to my blog How to Book a Session with Me for more details.


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