Top Three Fears Dog Owners Share with Me
So often when dog owners reach out to me about getting professional photos of their dogs, I hear one of three things holding them back. They have a dog that won’t stand still, or their dog is really nervous and uncomfortable in new surroundings, or they have an extremely reactive dog that is easily set off by other dogs or people. And sometimes one dog qualifies for all three! These are the top three fears that dog owners share with me. These dog owners cannot imagine their dog ever cooperating to allow for any photos at all. I’m here to let you in on a little secret. A large percentage of the dogs I work with fall into one or more of the above categories. So often in fact, I’m always pleasantly surprised when I have an “easy” dog.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these issues:
“My Dog Isn’t an Obedience Champion!”
For many dog owners, their pets won’t just stay in place for a photo. They can’t put their pup in a spot, drop the leash and walk away, fully confident their dog will still be there when they turn around. Many owners can’t even get their dogs to perk up their ears, or stand still for a moment. Well it’s time to breath a sigh of relief, very few dogs will do any of these things without help!
Since all of my portrait sessions are outdoors in a natural, fun, and sometimes “wild” setting, it’s perfectly normal for dogs to have the urge to run off and explore their new surroundings. Safety is always top priority, and that means the leash is on almost all of the time. Have you noticed images where a dog looks to be standing alone, gazing off into the distance, as if to suggest the dog is part of the natural setting? Not a person, leash or collar to be found? Probably didn’t start out that way, just look at these images below. They show a fun before and after, just to give you an idea of how we set up for that final look.
“My Dog Gets Way Too Stressed!”
Is your dog really nervous in new settings or around other people? Often pet owners worry this will prevent them from ever getting that one beautiful photo of their four legged best friend. Luckily I am very familiar with this, and never pressure a dog to perform! Our portrait sessions are always led by the dog, and we go at a pace that allows each dog to become comfortable (often these dogs even begin to have fun). I always read the dog’s cues, and take breaks whenever necessary.
“Oh No, My Dog is Far Too Aggressive Around Other Dogs!”
Owners of reactive or aggressive dogs sometimes think they’ll never qualify for a portrait session. Good news, even these pet parents deserve gorgeous keepsake portraits, and I am no stranger to these tough personalities. This is just another example of reading the dog’s cues and body language, and showing a great deal of respect.
The image below is of Zeus, and he definitely likes his own personal space. At no time did I threaten to encroach on his “bubble”, and I certainly didn’t stare into his eyes. By the end of our session he had accepted me quite happily, and we might have even become friends. Zeus is a good boy, and I truly love and respect his big personality!
So there you have it. Never worry that your dog isn’t obedient enough, or brave enough, or friendly enough for a custom portrait session. Every dog (and owner) is treated to an experience that is a unique, fun adventure, and always full of surprises. There are no personality or obedience expectations.