How to Include Your Dog in Your Photo Session or Wedding - Leah Goetzel Photography

How to Include Your Dog in Your Photo Session or Wedding

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Furry friends are part of the family, which is why so many people want to include their pets in their portrait session or even wedding day! But including your dog (or cat!) can bring a few extra challenges. Here’s a post with lots of tips and tricks for making sure your pet feels comfy and your session feels stress free!

Tips for Including Your Pet in Your Portrait Session

Pick your location carefully

Some locations might be better suited for your pup than others. If your dog is easily distracted, you might want a more secluded location. If your dog is always tempted by water, maybe don’t do a spot with a lake. If your dog is not a fan of car rides, maybe choose a spot closer to home.

Consider the terrain

When choosing a location for your session, make sure to keep your pet in mind! Lots of dogs don’t like heights, so overlooks and dropoffs probably isn’t the best choice. If terrain is too rocky it can be dangerous for their paws and ankles. (For example, the photo below was taken right near the parking lot so Marley wouldn’t have to walk across the rocks very far).

There’s no place like home

If you have an elderly or highly anxious dog, consider doing your session at home! I will come to you! This way your pup can feel at ease and comfortable.

Bring a dog handler

This is the most important tip. I highly recommend bringing someone who can be the doggie wrangler for the session. They can help with getting your pups attention, carrying treats, and walking them around when we want to do any solo pictures. It is truly the biggest factor in making sure you have a stress free portrait session!

Bring treats or toys

You know your dog best! How are they motivated? Try out a brand new squeaky toy to get their attention or pack some of their favorite treats to reward them.

Go for the cute leash

Almost all locations in Colorado require dogs on leashes, so splurge for the cute one! Make sure you trial it out beforehand!

Hide the collars

Want to cover your pets collar? Try a cute bandana or scarf!

Arrive early

The toughest sessions are when a dog is too overwhelmed by all the sights and smells. I highly recommend arriving early and walking your pet around, let them sniff and explore so everything’s not an exciting new smell once we start photographing.

Embrace the crazy

Photographing dogs is unpredictable. So try to embrace however your session goes. Regardless of your pups behavior or temperament, we will get some adorably candid shots that off your family’s personality.

If your dog is having trouble sitting still or looking at the camera, I’ll typically have you walk around. Not only does it get some cute candids but it gets out any extra energy.

When in doubt, walk it out

Tips for Including Your Dog in Your Wedding

Have a designated doggie babysitter

If your pup is going to be at your wedding, they will need someone whose sole job is to take care of them. Make sure this isn’t someone in your wedding party or immediate family (think siblings spouse, cousin, or friend). Ensure they are comfy with your pup and know that they will have a lofty job! They will be in charge of bathroom breaks, feeding time, etc.

Flower Girl or Ring Bearer

Nothing is cuter than your pup walking down the aisle with a job. It is adorable and a crowd pleaser. Just keep in mind they may feel a little overwhelmed. Have someone in your wedding party have a few treats to tempt them down the aisle. And don’t be surprised if they greet every single one of your guests.

Dress for success

While it may be tempting to deck your pup up out in a little doggie suit, make sure he’ll be comfy with that all day! Consider the climate, temperament of your pup and photos! Sometimes more complex outfits don’t photograph as well– what works beautifully? A nice bandana or extra flowers is perfect!

Decide how long your want your pup in attendance

Some couples have their pups just for the ceremony, others have them there the whole day. Keep your pups comfort level in mind when deciding how long to have your dog stick around. And make sure your doggie handler is okay with taking them home if need be!

Anxious doggo? Stick to just the getting ready

If your pup is super anxious around other people but you still really want them present for the day. Have them get ready with you! This portion of the day is usually a little slower paced with less people (depending on what your vendor team and wedding party number looks like). You’ll still get some cute candids, but they can relax with their toys or on their bed.

Keep guests in mind

Make sure your guests are comfy or aware that your dog will be present! Some people are afraid of dogs, make sure they feel comfortable with your pup being present. If you have a timid guest, maybe introduce them early on one on one, or limit your dogs presence to just the ceremony.

Take your photos early

If you want to include your dog in your photos, try to get them early on before they lose patience (or destroy their outfit). Make sure to bring treats or a toy to get their attention!

Include them in your wedding party photos

This is such a cute photo! You’ll love having a photo of all your besties, pup included.

Take some solo time

I am a big advocate of having alone time with your partner on your wedding day. It’s a great way to decompress and just enjoy each others company. But why not include your dog in this time? Go for a little walk around your venue, share a drink together.

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