Dogs have a wonderful sense of humor. The moment you turn on your camera - they stop doing whatever made you reach for it. Great pet pictures do happen, just not as often as we'd like.
The keys to great pictures of your dog are planning and patience. Fortunately, with digital cameras, we no longer have to worry about the expenses of film and developing. We can take dozens of pictures and only print the perfect shot - no one has to know how long it took to take!
In order to take great candid pictures of your dog, the first step is to get Sparky accustomed to the sound of the camera. If you just turn it on randomly, without taking any pictures, it will become "background noise" that your Fluffy ignores. If Spot only sees a camera occasionally, it's going to be something new and different he has to investigate. What dog owner doesn't have a gorgeous close-up of canine nostrils in the back of the picture box?
The next step is to add the shutter sound. Don't aim the camera, don't try to focus on anything in particular. Remember, we'll be deleting these pictures. It's another layer of sound Fido will learn to accept.
The addition of flash may cause a setback or two. Rover's not going to enjoy that bright light any more than we do and he doesn't know what it's for. You may want to add a distraction at this point - take a flash photo at the same time you throw Benji's favorite toy. Sooner or later, Scruffy's going to learn that taking pictures is just another weird human behavior.
At this point you're ready to get those great candid shots. Be sure the camera's ready, too. Keep those batteries charged!
If your goal is a more formal portrait of your dog - you're in luck! It's actually easier to get Princess to pose than to be cute. Once again - preparation is the key.
Get your background in place, whatever it is. Set up the props you want to use, look through your viewfinder at all corners and borders. Make sure there's nothing in the shot that you don't want there. Use a stuffed animal as Fifi's stand-in to make sure the floor lamp isn't growing out of her head. Set up a stash of treats near where you'll be shooting - but keep them out of Pumpkin's reach.
Next step: take Bruiser out and play ball, vigorously, for five or 10 minutes. You want to take the "edge" off, so he is happy and expectant, but not too fresh to focus. Come back in, let Lucky get a drink, put the toys away for now. Give Brutus a little primp - run a comb through his hair and wipe off any drool - and take him to your photo shoot. Keep things happy and upbeat.
Since you've set up in advance, all you need to do is tell Trooper to sit and stay, turn on your camera and shoot. Reset and repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Sooner or later, one of you will be too tired to resist. If it's Precious - you finally get the shot you want. Print, frame and enjoy!
Taking Terrific Photos of your Dog
by Hope Saidel
Hope Saidel is the co-owner of GollyGear, a bricks-and-mortar and online small dog shop featuring fun, affordable and practical products for small dogs. She has trained and competed in Obedience with small dogs for over a decade and is on the Board of Directors of the North Shore Dog Training Club.