6 Steps to Get Your Dog to Pose for Photos

Traveling for twelve years with our dogs taught me a lot. Among the lessons I learned was how to make a dog pose for photos. Ty and Buster were legendary for their skills. But when our puppy, Myles, arrived, I really had to get creative!

Two dogs posing for photos at White Sands National Monument

Taking and sharing photos of Ty and Buster in the beautiful places we visited was part of the fun of traveling with them. Well, calling it “fun” might be a bit of an exaggeration. When we first started, “chaos” would have been a more apt description of our photo shoots. But we have found some tips for getting a dog to pose for photos! And soon, we received these kinds of comments:

“I’m so impressed that your boys are posing!”

“If I let go of the leash, my dog ​​would be in the next county.”

“Look how well they behave!” And how photogenic it is!

“Do you know how many photos I would have to take of my bag to get one this good?” »

After Ty and Buster passed away and Myles arrived, teaching him how to pose for photos was a priority. Testing my theories on our new puppy has convinced me that I’m on the right track. Myles already loves the camera, and you can judge how his photos turn out!

Brindle puppy sitting at the top of the stairs in a camper van

You Can Teach Your Dog to Pose for Photos

Teaching your dog to sit properly for a photo isn’t rocket science. If we can do it, anyone can do it! All you need is a camera, a handful of treats and a lot of patience.

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Brindle puppy in a red harness in front of a flower garden

Step 1 – Start with a strong seated position

To get your dog to pose for photos, the first thing you will need to teach him is the “sit” command. A trainer we worked with years ago who really understood my abilities concluded that it would be best to keep things simple…so here, sit means sit.

When I say “sit” I mean: drop your butt to the ground and keep it there until you are ordered again or released. We don’t use “wait” or “stay” commands because they would be redundant.

Working on your dog’s “seat” is something you can do 100 times a day without breaking a sweat. Just keep a few treats in your pocket and whenever your dog is around, ask him to sit. When he does, release him and give him a treat.

Brindle dog looking at the camera with a man wearing sunglasses and an orange t-shirt sitting behind him
“Where’s that treat you talked about?” -Myles

We use the word “free” to communicate that our request for behavior is complete, but any word will work. Over time, you can extend the length of the session, add distractions, practice in new environments, and combine it with other commands, like “come,” that will also be useful when you start taking photos.

Brindle puppy sitting on an antique red truck parked in the weeds under the trees
Brindle puppy sitting on a rock in a desert landscape

A (not so) brief aside on why we constantly use treats

This may come as a surprise, but dogs are dogs. They love doing things with their dog…sniffing trees, chasing squirrels, eating things they shouldn’t, taking naps in the sun and frolicking. They are not aspiring models and could care less about your photographic ambitions.

When humans choose to put aside their heart’s desire and do something else, we call it “work.” And we usually get paid for it. So it only seems fair that when we ask our dogs to give up their favorite activities and do what we want instead, we should pay them for their time. This might mean treats if your dog is food motivated, or his favorite toy if he prefers to play. Everything you need to let your dog know how much you appreciate their choice to cater to your whims.

Step 2 – “Look at me” training

It’s well known that dogs don’t like being looked at. And when they are, few dogs will look back at you. Usually they look away, which becomes a problem when we realize that a camera lens looks a lot like a huge eye, and we to want our dogs to watch it.

The amount of effort needed to get your dog comfortable with the lens depends on the camera you’re using and your dog’s personality. If you take photos with your cell phone, you’ll probably have an easier time warming your pup. A cell phone camera lens is small and our dogs see our phones all the time. It is therefore not a new object that merits caution. If you’re using a larger camera, things may take longer.

This is how we move forward: prepare for the worst |  GoPetFriendly.com

Regardless of your method of collecting photos, you’ll want to start teaching your dog a command that means “look at the camera.” For us, this commandment is “watch over me.” Take out your treats, start slowly and reward him as he improves.

At first, you may only turn your head a little towards yourself. That’s good, build on it! It may take some time for your dog to gain enough confidence to overcome his natural tendency to look away from the camera.

We practice “look at me” every time we feed Myles. After putting his bowl down, we ask him to maintain eye contact until he is released. He learned that one really quickly!

Brindle dog sitting near a pet-friendly streetcar in Tombstone, Arizona

Step 3 – Develop your patience

There’s a fine line between fun and frustration when trying to get the perfect photo of your dog. Your pup may be on leave, people may be blocking your shot, or your camera settings may be wrong. So many things can go wrong!

When you feel the anxiety rising, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re having fun. Dogs can sense when we feel irritated, which can make them anxious. And just seeing your four-legged friend doing their best to accommodate your crazy project should melt your heart.

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Exploring Jekyll Island, Georgia

Step 4 – Practice, practice, practice

As with anything you teach your dog, the more he trains, the better the results. Start by shooting in places with few distractions and slowly work your way up to more challenging environments. This means that if you want your dog to pose on your next vacation, you need to start taking photos of him in your kitchen now!

Because we always shared our photos, Myles posed for photos several times a week. Here are the steps we follow:

  • We ask Myles to sit while we line up the shot.
  • Then, depending on the photo, we sometimes give him the command “look at me” while we take several photos.
  • When we think we have succeeded, we release him with a “come” and pay him with a few treats. The number of treats he receives depends on how difficult the situation is. (Dogs passing by or lots of people means more treats for Myles.)

As he learned our routine, we were able to take great photos of all our adventures.

Brindle puppy standing on a rock in a snowy pine forest

Step 5 – Accept Imperfection

Sometimes the best shots are the ones I least expect. After all their years as models, even Ty and Buster haven’t cooperated 100% every time. And I realized that what we captured in those moments was just a precious object.

One of my favorite examples happened during a visit to Lake Louise. We had walked to Lake Agnes and I took a few photos of the dogs while Rod made us a sandwich. While filming, Ty looked down and discovered a dead chipmunk under the rock he was sitting on. The look on his face and the memory of trying to convince two dogs to drop a dead rodent still makes me laugh!

Ty and Buster at Lake Agnes - Lake Louise, AB

When you have fun with your pets, the camera captures the feelings in a way that I can’t explain. So embrace imperfection and be grateful that you’re experiencing the world together. Because no matter how the images turn out, you will always have memories.

Ty and Buster at Glacier National Park, MT

Step 6 – Know When to Leave

No image is worth asking more from your dog than he is capable of giving. When Myles was a puppy, he was easily distracted and wasn’t completely reliable with his “sit” and “come.” Ty and Buster had theirs too behavioral problems.

The fact is that every dog ​​has its limits, just like humans. And, as a person, it is your duty to understand and respect your dog’s limits.

Brindle puppy sitting by a lake with thousands of sandhill cranes

And that’s all there is to it! With a little practice, you can have your dog posing for photos in no time. To make these tips for getting your dog to pose for photos easy to remember, our friends at Pet Hub created a handy information graphic:

Infographic – Pet Photos

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