Everyone says or thinks this at some point in their dog’s life (or all the way through it) and sometimes this is enough for them to give up on ever having successful professional photos taken. My own dogs are a bag of nuttiness a large amount of the time; we had to give up on obedience school for Delilah when she was younger because she would either end up with a traffic cone on her head (true story) or throw what was basically a boredom tantrum, spinning around on the lead, manically digging holes and eventually backing out of her collar and running away.
So I understand that dogs can be a challenge. Oh my, do I ever! (She has since settled down significantly and we’ve even considered braving obedience school again…maybe…)
But I’m here to tell you that not only is it possible to take great photos of active dogs, it’s not even that difficult with the right tricks, tools, timing and, most importantly, a sense of humour.
First I’ll show you a photo I took of Delilah in the Dandenong Ranges a while ago:
She looks like a trained professional if you see the still shot, but here are some out-takes….
“But”, I hear you say, “She’s not jumping off at least!”.
See how high up that tree stump is? Sure, she could jump off it if she was inclined, as could most larger dogs. But she’s not. Why? Because she’d been plied with treats, I was telling her she was the best dog on the planet and it was slightly too much effort to jump off. That’s the trick – striking a balance between their desire to run off and explore and incentive to stay.
Of course she did eventually leap off because it was pretty boring up there, but not before I’d gotten the shots I needed. Getting the shot only takes a minute, sometimes even less. Bear in mind that I was doing this on my own standing a few metres back and this task is much, much easier with an owner standing nearby encouraging good behaviour and providing treats.
This is just one example of how to make it look like your dog is not a wild animal in a photo. Pet photographers love a challenge and are good at thinking on their toes (or knees, usually in mud) so don’t ever give up on ever having amazing photos taken of your dog!