So many of my couples ask to include their dog in their engagement photos, and my response is always “YES”! 🐶There are so many benefits to bringing your dog along:
That being said, preparing for your engagement session with these simple tips will make a huge difference in your experience and in your photos.
Let’s jump right in! 👇(something the dog pictured below was dying to do with that lake nearby!)
It’s important not to try to include your dog in your entire session. Your dog likely doesn’t have a long attention span and will be easily distracted (see Tip # 4).
To keep your sanity and to ensure you also take photos of just the two of you, I recommend splitting your engagement session in half… or 40/60…whatever works best for you.
Of course, if your dog is on the sideline for part of the session, you’ll need to bring someone with you to watch them.
This helper can be a friend or family member – anyone who your dog is comfortable hanging out with and who you won’t feel weird about watching you be romantic and goofy together while taking photos!
Living in Austin makes it super easy to find dog-friendly portrait locations! Everywhere you look there are parks, lakes, and restaurants that welcome dogs.
But wherever you live, be sure to research your potential location to see if dogs are allowed and if you need to keep them on-leash. You could even visit the spot before your session to help your dog get used to the area.
At-home engagement sessions have the added benefit making your dog super comfortable and relaxed. And if you’re staying home, you don’t have to worry about Tip #2 (bringing someone with you).
As all dog owners know, dogs can be CRAZY and their personalities might be unpredictable in new places and around new people. So it’s important to set your expectations well and know that it may be challenging at times. Letting go of your vision of “perfect” family photos and going with the flow will help you to have fun and to LOVE your photos.
Keep reading for more on that!
If your dog is one to get super excited about walks and being outside, it’s a good idea to get their energy out before photo time. Take them on a walk or play fetch with them earlier in the day.
For this reason, we’ll probably take the photos with your dog included during the second half of the session. During the first half, we’ll focus completely on the two of you. While we’re all getting warmed up and you’re getting comfortable in front of the camera, we’ll be distraction free.
And during this time, your helper can walk your pup and tire them out even more before we’re ready for them.
I know you have visions of the whole group looking perfectly at the camera, but it’s also fun to have natural, candid photos with your dog.
I love to take photos of the two of you hanging out with your dog the way you normally do; petting and kissing them, squeezing them tight, or even playing frisbee at the park. It will be special to have photos of your family being normal and acting like yourselves. 😘🙃
Of course, we’ll also try to take some photos of your dog looking and “smiling” at the camera, but again, it’s important to set your expectations well!
One way to help your dog look at the camera and be on their best behavior is to bring treats or toys – whatever they’re most motivated by!
At the beginning of the session, give a few treats to your photographer to hold onto. Most dogs can’t resist their favorite treat and will do anything and everything to get it!
Just like scheduling a hair & makeup appointment for yourself, it’s important to help your dog look their best too! Give them a bath or schedule a wash and haircut for your pup before the session.
Invest in a new collar, harness, or even decorative clothes like a bandana. If you’re able to coordinate the color of their collar to your own outfits, I will love you forever!
I hope these tips were helpful and you’re feeling confident and excited about bringing your dog to your engagement photos! And if you’re also dreaming about them being the cutest flower girl or ring bearer at your wedding, many of these same tips will apply!