If you are anything like me, you absolutely adore your fur-babies and it is an absolute MUST that your pups be included in either your engagement session or your wedding portraits. However, maybe you’re stuck on the best way to go about it. Do you want these portraits in a stress-free? What about all the pet hair? Do you have a super energetic pup? Well, let me tell you you’re in the right place!
My pups (those adorable 3 little guys above) are my absolute world and it was a must for me to have them in both our engagement session and our wedding. However they can be a little looneytunes at times and they shed like CRAZY so hair get’s EVERYWHERE!
Trust me, from experiencing this first hand and working with pets while shooting engagement sessions and wedding portrait, I have figured out the secret formula on the most stress-free way to take portraits with your pets. Below are some tips on the Dos and Don’ts for including your pups in your portraits!
If your pup is anything like mine, they shed like crazy! The amount of hair that comes off my 3 pups in a single day, I could probably make a blanket out of it! No one wants a bunch of dog hair on their wedding dress or suit so ff your pup is anything like mine, keep reading!
If you can, have your pup groomed a few days before your session. This could either be at a grooming salon or at your home. If you bath your pup at home, I HIGHLY recommend investing in the deshedding Furminator Shampoo, Furminator Conditioner, and Furminator Brush (if you use all 3 products together, the combination does some serious deshedding!). I never believed it could work all that great until I tried it and let me tell you it is INSANE the amount of hair that comes off after just shampooing!
This product may not have the same outcome or may not be the best option for your pup so please talk with your veterinarian before using!
If you have an energetic pup I recommend bringing a pup-sitter to your session that both you and your pup really know and trust. I love to start the first half or more of your session focusing on you two while you pup-sitter focuses on playing, walking, running, essentially exhausting your pup out! If you have a pup that may not be the most energetic, but loves sniffing EVERYTHING (our Lab is this way) then just having someone walk them around to let your pup familiarize themselves with their surroundings helps dramatically!
You want to choose someone your pup is very familiar with so that it is comforting to your pup. Choosing a random pup-sitter can add unnecessary stress to your dog which we don’t want that!
You want to exercise them DURING your session because this will make them easier to control. Exercising your pup before you start your session will allow them to “recharge” and ready for round 2 when it is time for their portraits.
Having someone to play or walk them around the park will allow them to get familiar with the place and burn off that extra energy. When it is time to include them in the portraits they will be tired from the exercise and familiar with their surroundings so they will be easier to gain their focus for a few portraits.
Ps. Please remember to bring water to your session for them!
If your pup is easily persuaded by treats or toys then definitely bring a reward to your session! Rewards are an easy way to grab their attention especially is they still have a little bit of energy left in them.
For my pups, their reward it is definitely a toy! If you squeak a toy just moments before the image is taken they are full focus on wherever that wonderful squeaky notice came from! This only works though for pups that really like to play but have been exercised so their surrounding does not seem as interesting as the toy or treat does. We want the toy or treat to be more interesting than that bird, squirrel, or person walking by.
Thing’s To Avoid
If you pup is not involved in the wedding ceremony, it is best to avoid crowds. If you have an anxious pup or one that just loves saying hello, to limit stress or distractions it is best to decide on a portrait location that is less crowded.
INSIDE: If you are getting ready on your wedding day in your home and you have your bridal party there as well, it may be best to step outside for a few portraits compared to the living room where there is a lot of distractions.
e.g. just groom with pup on the porch
OUTSIDE: Going in the middle of a field or behind a building is more ideal compared to just stepping off to the side of a sidewalk. Most people will be courteous and patiently wait while you get a portrait taken so they do not walk into the shot, but this can distract your pup even more with them just standing there waiting. People also tend to do the “baby voice” as they walk past when they see a pup which also gets your pup excited (I am a culprit to this, sorry I just can’t help it!) so by moving as far as you can away from high foot traffic area’s is best.
LEASHES AND COLLARS
Bold color leashes, collars, and harnesses are very detracting in images. Investing in a thin SHORT leash and collar, no harnesses, that match your wedding colors for your portraits is most ideal. You can also choose a color that matches your pup’s coat as well. Choosing the right color is helpful when you are taking images where you have to keep them on a leash. Choosing a short leash also helps keep your pup close to you. I recommend a 3ft leash for the best length. A short leash is also perfect if they are walking down the aisle!
To avoid these very distracting elements, you can remove their leash and collar entirely, hold onto them tightly so they do not run away, while you have portraits sitting/squatting down beside them.
An example below with a distracting leash and harness vs removing and holding onto pup. Much better!