Tips for including dogs in your West Hartford family photos


Dogs are truly members of the family, so as a West Hartford family photographer my clients will sometimes ask if they can include their four-legged family members in our session. My answer is YES! I know dogs are often your first “baby,” so I welcome families to include them for both outdoor and in-home sessions.

Often dogs can be a lot like having a toddler at a session. You really have to embrace that sweet but unpredictable nature.


But let's kick this off with one little question. Is your dog nervous, wild, and anxious? Then this may not be a good idea. Believe me...i totally get that this is tough to hear. But as the mom of a anxious and nervous rescue fur baby, I could not even imagine a photo session going smoothly with my Juno-dog, much as I would love that sweet face of hers in a photo with my family. She would just be too disruptive. So that's just a little something we need to ask ourselves. How will my dog deal with this situation?

Ok, moving on....


It's essential that everyone's well-prepared prior to any session. With dogs, its no different! Even if they are really well-behaved, it helps to keep a few things in mind when you include your dog in a family session.


Often dogs can be a lot like having a toddler at a session. You really have to embrace that sweet but unpredictable nature.

- Brush up on any commands that your dog knows. It isn’t entirely necessary, but a good “sit,” “stay,” and “down” goes a long way with the success of a session.


- Exercise before the session. It is so important that the dog gets their “zoomies” out before our time together. A long walk, a jog around the block will help the dog relax, and be more focused.

- It’s helpful to bring your dog to the location a bit early to sniff all the "pee-mail" messages and walk about if possible. Then they won’t be as curious and excited to explore new areas surrounding us during a shot.


- Bring treats and toys...and break out the good stuff! Delicious, high value treats are a must for successful bribery.

Great treats to reward that great behavior

- Try to bring a neutral colored leash so it doesn’t become a distraction in the photo.


- If possible, bring a friend to hold the leash and give the dog a break so we can get some shots with and without them.


- Make sure the pets’ eyes are clean and clear of debris, especially the breeds that get tear stains. Give a good brush before the session. Sticky lint rollers work as well.


- Do not worry if the dog is not doing exactly what you ask or is being stubborn. What is important is that we capture their happy movement, tail wags, and tongues hanging out, as well as the tender moments between a pet and their families.

Sessions with your dog are so much fun! Don’t stress if they aren’t perfectly behaved. Documenting both their personality and your family dynamic is what it’s all about.

While I can’t always promise your pet will look at the camera, I can promise to provide beautiful images that speak to you as a family. Let's get your four legged baby in your family portraits! Let's talk!


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