One of the most frequent questions I get asked is "Can I bring my dog to our family session?".
I think it's important to include your fur babies in your session- they are part of the family and deserve to be documented in the family when possible.
Adding an animal to your session does add a level of stress as there will need to be some extra preparations made to make it a successful experience. Here are a few tips to consider when planning to bring your dog to your family session.
1- Notify your photographer you intend to bring your dog and plan a location together with this in mind.
Nothing is worse for an animal session than an overcrowded location or a location where there are lots of distractions. If it is a busier season and a crowd is more likely consider a sunrise session. Not only is this time cooler in the mornings for your dog in the summer, it will be significantly less crowded.
2- Consider your dogs age and behavior capabilities
A puppy/younger dog will have less experience and will be less likely to do what you want them to do at your session.
3- Bring a leash you're ok with having in your photos
If you don't want a bright red leash in your photos don't bring the bright red leash. I'd recommend sticking to black or color coordinating your leash with your outfits.
4- Bring dog bags to clean up after your dog and water for your dog to drink on hot days.
5- Plan ahead to tire your dog out prior to your session
This is my most important tip for ensuring success for your session.
There is nothing that is more exciting to a dog as meeting new people in a new unchartered location. Arrive 15-20 minutes early to play fetch and get some energy out.
6- Bring treats or small toys- teach your photographer your training words.
Keep in mind that as the photographer I am holding a camera. It is hard to hold big objects and take a photo at the same time as my camera is heavy and needs both hands to stabilize. A dog that listens to commands without a treat will do better than a dog that requires a treat/toy in sight.
7- Have a back-up plan.
Some dogs just won't calm down enough to get the shots you'd hoped for and that's ok. Have a back up plan on what you intend to do with your dog if they choose to not participate. Many of my clients will bring an extra long leash to their session to tie the dog to a nearby tree. Some of my favorite locations will have the location next to the parking lot allowing you to place your dog back in the car for the remainder of the session. If it's hot out, a tree tie will likely be your only option.
Bringing your fur baby will add a little extra prep time but if you think they are behaved enough to do it you'll be happy you did! If not, don't worry, we can always try again another time.
If you're still un-sure talk to your photographer about your concerns.
Here are some of my favorite sessions with beautiful fur babies!