How to help prepare your dog for their photo session

How to help prepare your dog for their photo session

You are excited, you’ve booked your photography session with your dog and the big day is fast approaching! What should you do to prepare? Here are 8 quick tips to help you prepare your dog for their photo session.


The finished photos from your dog’s photo session will look so much better if you pay attention to your dog’s grooming requirements prior to the big day. For many dogs, especially short-haired breeds, this may just involve a bath, a brush and perhaps a nail trim a day or two before the session. For longer haired breeds it can involve more. You will be the best to decide whether your dog will need to be professionally groomed before the session.

If your dog is fluffy or long-coated, grooming makes all the difference in the final images. In any case, if you want them looking great in the photos, so please ensure they’ve been thoroughly brushed, and their coat is free of matting, tangles, dirt and debris.  If you like your dog clipped, at least a week out is best to reduce any markings from the clipping and allowing the clip to settle in.

Pay particular attention to any fur around the eyes. This will make all the difference to ensure heart-warming photos of your dog, and as they say, the eyes are the windows to the soul. It is much harder to obtain great focus on a dog whose eyes are hidden by fur! 

I can’t guarantee they will come out of the session sparkly clean!


How does your dog’s collar look? Would you like it to show in their photographs? If the collar is looking a bit old and tired, or a colour that overpowers the natural beauty of your dog, consider treating your dog to a new collar that harmonises with their colouring. 

Remember the collar will show in photographs whereas leashes can generally be edited out for any final images in preparation for the artwork.

If you have a collar with your dog’s name and your phone number embroidered on it, make sure the collar has been washed prior to the session and is fitted with the dog’s name in the direction of the head, not the body. Otherwise, the name will look upside down in the images.

You can also bring along a few bandannas or other favourite accessories you’d like included in some of your photos.

A few of your pet’s favourite things

Does your dog have a favourite toy or other cool treasure they adore? Bring it along to their photo session. Adding personal touches throughout the session can make a real difference to telling the story of your dog through meaningful photographs. This is especially important if you are considering purchasing a photo book or album as it’s these little things that add to your dog’s story.

Training and assistance 

Whilst basic training such as sit, stand, drop, stay and come definitely help the session go more smoothly, if your dog is not fully trained, you can still get some great photos. However, if your dog has had little if any basic training, it’s a great idea to invest some time in the weeks leading up to the photo session teaching them a few basics.

If I had to choose two, it would be sit and stay. A little training goes a long way with regards to the enjoyment you, your dog and the photographer will get from the experience. You may also need to assist the photographer at times during the photo session to help position them, and direct their attention.

I normally spend some time with your dog before I start shooting, to build rapport and get them used to my camera and get some cuddles too! I have lots of tricks up my sleeve to get their undivided attention.


I use healthy, ethical treats during the session to build rapport and engagement with your dog, and also to reward them for the desired behaviour. If your dog is picky or has dietary restrictions, don’t forget to bring something special that they love! Tiny pieces work best.

If your dog is not particularly treat-motivated, you may decide not to feed them before the session, so they are extra hungry and interested in what is on offer. You can also use toys and other methods to get their undivided attention to strike an engaging pose.


Make sure you pack your dog’s travel bowl and water!  

Energy levels

The best state for a dog to be in for their photo session is for their energy level to be average, meaning they are happy to have a play and quite content to sit contentedly when asked.  Every dog is different and you as their parent are the best one to determine how to prepare them on the day.

If your dog is a high energy dog, best to exercise your dog before the session or arrive a little early and go for a walk.  If your dog is older or has a lower energy level, make sure they are well-rested prior to the session. Your dog will undoubtedly be excited about being in a new place and new experience, and you’ll get down to the photography more quickly if they are prepared according to their energy levels.


For more questions related to Pet photography, please contact Jo @ Jo Lyons Photography.

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