Help, I want to get good pictures of my dog but he won’t cooperate for you

“I really like your photos but you will never get good pictures of my dog, my dog won’t sit still and NEVER listens”

I hear this all the time…so I thought I would share with you some of the secrets behind my pet photography.

90% of the pet canines I take photos of are not immaculately well-behaved. This doesn’t mean they are bad dogs, it’s just that, as any trainer will tell you, dogs are situational animals. They behave differently in different environments. Believe me, if I only photographed well-trained dogs, I would never take pictures at all!

You know how this goes, you teach your pet an amazing trick at home, and you get them doing a rollover when you pretend to shoot them with your finger pistol. You practice, they do it consistently at home, you can’t believe how good they are, you pat yourself on the back and start dreaming about becoming a professional dog trainer. You then go to a friend’s house to show off your new skills, only for your furry buddy to look at you like you are stupid and then wander off to find the nearest new smell to investigate…. leaving you to look like a total idiot.

Many of my clients get frustrated with their dogs when we take them out on a portrait session. Their dog won’t sit, they get distracted by smells, they get reactive with passing dogs and they are not even interested in their favourite toy. This is so common, but we still manage to get great images of your dogs regardless.

Here are some of the things I hear from people who think we will never be able to get a good photo of their pet.

I can’t have my dog off lead

It might surprise you to know that a large percentage of the dogs I photograph actually have leads on. There are many reasons for this. Mainly it’s because they don’t have a rock-solid recall, but it can also be that we are near the edge of a cliff and we don’t want them to follow a bird off the ledge and into oblivion. It can also be because we want to keep them in one spot because they keep wanting to move. Whatever the reason, it’s not important. All dogs deserve to have their story told and there is ALWAYS a way to get a nice photo of yours, I promise!

Even Rustie, my own dog, where I do a lot of training, can be unpredictable sometimes. In the photo below she had a long line. If you look closely, you can see by her right bent leg that I haven’t quite finished editing it. Sometimes I just leave a long lead on her just to slow her down!

rustie dog jumping over grass
Rustie had a long line on in this photo

Greyhounds are too difficult to photograph

Greyhounds can be tricky, however, that doesn’t mean they are necessarily worse than any other dog, it’s really down to their personality. Seymour the greyhound running on the beach (see below) was really anxious and unsure of himself when we first started. However, once we got him on the beach, he turned into a totally different character. He was leaping around and running like he was a puppy again and became a joy to work with.

See the interview I did with his mum in a previous blog

seymour the greyhound running on sand

My dog cannot sit still for five minutes

I love working with superactive dogs, they can be so much fun and their energy is infectious. With dogs like this, we can get them playing with the ball/frisbee to get some good action shots. Some of the best photos I have taken have been purely incidental. I just get down to their height, let the owner play with them and snap away.

Side note: I got a black eye once from photographing a very active ball-obsessed dog. It was worth it and a risk worth taking for the shot!

Some of the dogs that are off the Richter scale are energetic, I recommend taking them for a walk/play before the photoshoot. Just to take the edge off before we get down to business.

My dog is reactive to other dogs

I really sympathise with you! ….honestly, I have been there. I used to have a chocolate Labrador who was the kindest, most docile soppy thing you would ever meet until he got attacked on a number of occasions by out-of-control, off-lead canines. Ever since then, he developed reactivity to other pooches when he was on a lead. It was so frustrating and upsetting, people would look at me as if I had a dangerous dog, I felt so sad for him because I knew what a sweet boy he was, and it wasn’t his fault he got attacked in the first place.

Don’t worry, we can still get good pictures of your pooch too. I have beautiful locations where I take the pups that need a little extra space, and we choose a time when its going to be quiet. We make sure there is plenty of room for them to run whilst still being able to see if anyone is coming with a dog, so we can make sure we keep a good distance between us and them. It’s also a good idea to bring plenty of treats and their favourite toy, so we can keep them distracted should the situation arise.

My dog is too old

Older pups, or frosty-faced dogs who have a bit of arthritis, or perhaps some mobility issues make beautiful images. Their faces tell a story, and they have a lot of expression in their eyes. We may not be able to get the action shots that we would have been able to when they were young, but we can still give them justice in their senior years. We choose locations that don’t involve a lot of walking, no hills or uneven ground, and a beautiful backdrop to really showcase their character.

Cooper – a 14 year old border collie

My dog is too young

I have photographed dogs from as young as 2 days old. Each age group comes with its challenges, however, puppies are obviously very photogenic, and everyone loves a puppy picture!

I’m on a mission to get people to make memories of their dogs from a young age. Don’t wait until your pooch is struggling with life, you want to remember them when they are in their prime, active and happy.

It’s also fun to get progress photoshoots of your dog throughout their first year of life. That way you can document them growing up and have beautiful pictures of your dog to remember them by.

I have designed a special photoshoot package for your pet throughout their first year of life so you can watch them grow through the pictures.

My dog is very nervous

Something a lot of people don’t realise about the canine species is that they generally don’t like people sticking their hands in front of their faces, which unfortunately is a natural reflex amongst most of us humans.

Have you ever noticed how a lot of pooches seem to like the people that don’t like dogs? The reason is that they ignore them. The best way to greet a dog is to avoid looking at them, or even approaching them at all, especially nervous ones. That is why for the most part of the photo shoot, I won’t actually come into contact with your pet at all. Of course, if your dog chooses to come up to me, that’s a different story.

For the nervous dogs, I will ignore them and keep my distance. I take my time, let them sniff me if they want to and sometimes a few treats thrown on the ground near my feet are enough to warm them up. Incidentally, I also use this tactic to get them used to the camera…see the blog post I wrote about tips on how to take better pictures of your dog.

If your pet is particularly nervous, we can always find a location they are familiar with, so that they are at least in surroundings that they already know.

So what are you waiting for?

As an experienced dog photographer, Rustie and Co love and appreciates all dog personalities.

We know what it’s like to own a challenging dog and we have a lot of experience dealing with these struggles.

All dogs deserve to have their stories told, they are all special, and we can get good portraits of your pets that you will want to keep forever, I promise!

Interested in Professional Pet Photography?

Capture the bond you share with your beloved pet with one of my dog photography packages.

During a candid outdoor photoshoot, we can really capture the essence of the personality of your pooch.

Contact Emma on 0432 428 002 or send her a message.

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