How to take a picture of your dog

As pet owners, we’ve all wished we could capture the best of our dogs with a brilliant photograph. Whether they’re long- or short-haired, big or small, energetic or laid-back, there’s no better way to capture brilliant memories than with a photo. But taking the perfect portrait of your dog can be a challenge.

Read on to discover more about photographing dogs. 

How to get your dog to stay still

Perhaps the greatest challenge of all: how do you get your fun-loving, tail-wagging dog to stay still for the camera? A perfectly posed photo opportunity can blur in an instant with the slightest of distractions.

Here are some dog photography tips on how to get your dog to stay still:

- Always introduce your dog to the camera before you begin. Make sure they’re familiar with the equipment, the sounds it makes, and the process of taking a photo. If they seem unsure, let your dog have a good sniff of the camera: but be careful not to imply to them that it’s a toy to be played with!

- Rushing into taking a photo might frighten some dogs. Make sure you don’t scare them with a bright, sudden flash or loud sound.

- Taking the perfect pet portrait will be far easier if your dog is already trained to ‘sit’ and ‘stay’. Reinforce these commands with verbal praise and treats.

- Practice first, without taking a picture, to get your pet used to the process without any pressure on the end result.

- If your dog is well trained to respond to treats, try using a Bakers treat (such as Bakers Sizzlers), their favourite toy, or a ball, held just above the camera to focus their attention.

- If your dog gets too excitable at the prospect of a visible treat, suggest it to them verbally whilst taking the photograph, and only reveal the reward afterwards.

- Remember—a lot of the time dogs are just as happy with plenty of cuddles and verbal affection. Don’t be tempted to give them too many food treats just to get a good shot, and make sure the ones you do give them count towards their daily food allowance.

2 dog looking at camera

How to capture your dog’s personality on camera

The best dog photography comes from capturing your dog’s character in a still image, and that’s quite a skill! Try to find a way to express your pet’s personality creatively.

- If your dog is excitable, active, and happiest on walks outside, don’t force them into a posed, indoor photo-shoot. Instead, take your camera outside where your dog is in their element!

- If your dog enjoys the good life, take a photo of them relaxed and surrounded by their favourite things.

- If you’re photographing dogs in their senior years, or a dog who has physical limitations, take their picture when they are comfortable. Let them sit on the sofa or carpet, and make sure they’re relaxed.

- If you’re photographing a puppy, don’t be afraid to go all out! Surround them with their favourite toys, blanket, and balls. You can capture something really brilliant if you just let your puppy play with their favourite things.

- Don’t forget your dog’s ultimate favourite thing… you! Find a friend to take the perfect pet portrait of you and your dog. Nothing will make them happier than affection from their owner, and nothing makes for a better photo than a blissfully happy dog or puppy!

photographing a dog

How to capture your dog in action

For an outdoors, action-style pet portrait, follow these dog photography tips to get it right.

- If you camera allows you to manually adjust settings, use a longer shutter speed to catch your canine in action.

- If your camera has automatic functions, experiment until you find the best one for action shots. Some camera have a handy ‘sports’ setting which is good for people – or pets! – in motion.

- Try using a wide-angle lens whilst photographing your dog and playing with them at the same time. You could capture some gloriously unexpected moments!

Dog on camera

How to get your dog to look at the camera

It isn’t essential to have photos where your pet stares directly into the camera; but if that’s the look you’re going for, here are a few tips on how to persuade them to look into the lens.

- The best portraits come from looking slightly above the lens, not into it. So try holding a ball, toy, or treat just above the camera when taking your dog’s photo. That should focus their attention!

- If you lose their attention, provide verbal encouragement and actions such as waving your hand above the camera to refocus your pet.

- If your dog is really struggling to look in the right place, enlist the help of another person to get their attention with a treat, so you can focus on the photo. 

Dog getting treat

Picking the perfect composition for your pet portrait

This comes down to your pet’s personality. Frame your dog against their ideal environment, and you’re sure to capture a photo that will forever remind you of their colourful character.

- Take your dog outdoors for a bright and fun pet portrait.

- Take into account your pet’s colouring. Choose a background that complements their coat, but make sure they don’t blend in to their background.

- If you’re looking for something a little more artistic, take your dog outdoors at sunset for a silhouette effect!

- If photographing dogs with a dark coat, locate your camera’s ‘exposure compensation’ setting to reduce the exposure and get a better shot.

- Think seasonal! Have fun with your pet portraits at different times of the year. Take a photo in front of the Christmas tree to remember those special moments.

dog running again

Top dog photography tips!

- Get your pet used to the camera first.

- Think about their personality, and frame the photo around them.

- Dress appropriately: if you’re out and about while photographing dogs, be sure you’re ready to get mucky with them.

- Protect your camera! Fun-filled, water-splashing shots can be fantastic, but keep your equipment safe from water damage.

- Remember that your dog might not care about their photo as much as you: don’t exhaust or irritate your pet with lengthy photo sessions. If the magic isn’t happening, put the camera away and try again another day.

Dog in flowers

The most important thing to remember when photographing dogs is to always have fun! The best way to capture your pet’s character and sense of playfulness is to make sure you’re both having a good time.

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