Does your pet have the shakes or run around like they just ate a box of pixie sticks?
Pet parents act just like regular parents in my opinion, especially dog parents. You constantly wonder if you’re doing the right thing by your pet, are they ok, how can you make their life better? Not to mention education, food and the constant spoiling!
Handing the leash over to a stranger can be nerve wracking for any pet parent. I totally get it. I’m the mum to two absolutely gorgeous rescues, Ozzie and io (a.k.a The Slug). Oz was my very first dog that I owned (as in not a family pet) and he was my very first rescue dog. After some bad experiences with those who shall not be named, I quickly learned along the way to make sure to vet people before they handle or care for my dogs. Especally when they’re a rescue because incorrect handling can lead to major set backs for a rescue and can quickly dissolve months of hard work on your part.
(It happened to me a couple of times!)
I get asked if the dogs that I photograph are professional models or have gone to training school. The reality is, 95% of the dog I’m photographing are rescues and about 80% don’t even know how to sit.
(They know it by the end!)
So how do I get the shots?
Well, dogs are amazing creatures. We’ve had a friendship with them for thousands of years but somewhere along the way there’s been a bit of a disconnect. I’m always surprised when an owner doesn’t recognise that their pet is uncomfortable but I understand that sometimes the signs can be so tiny. You really don’t notice them unless you’re looking out for them. (No judgement here!)
I work by using positive reinforcement only. That means no leash grabbing, collar pulling, bum pushing behaviour from me or parents. If your dog wants to leave “the set” that’s more than ok, let them! They’ll come back in their own time and when they’re ready. Patience is key because afterall, you’re hiring me to capture some magical portraits and to do that, I want your dog to be a dog and enjoy themselves.
The Nervous Nellies
The only thing you can do with a nervous dog is give them your time. It’s that simple. On a number of occassions I’ve met dogs before the scheduled photoshoot because their parents are worried how they’ll handle the situation. Truth is, I’ve never had a single issue with a dog and most of the time it’s the parents that are more nervous than their pooch!
With a nervous dog, you have to allow them the time to open up and let their personality shine. If we’re shooting on location I usually recommend a quieter location if your dog is on high alert for “bad” things that might happen. We avoid places with cars when walking Ozzie (especially at night), because he’s obsessed with them. He was a stray for a year and I’m sure the headlights were super frightening and confusing, especially to a Kelpie boy!
As the amazing Cathy from WonderPaws once said…”If you’re dog is nervous or uncomfortable, why do you want to do it? Just avoid what they don’t like for a happy dog!”. Of course, if you would like your dog professionally photographed we can’t exactly avoid strange and unusual scenarios they’ve not encountered before. What we can do though is put some tried and tested things in place to make sure your dog is comfortable and enjoying themselves.
Ball! Leaf! Foot!
Hyper dogs are just so entertaining! They’re probably my favorite kind of pet personality to photograph because it’s a challenge and so rewarding! Also, from experience I just want to say that more than likely your version of “hyper” is nothing compared to some of the dogs I’ve photographed!
With hyper dogs it’s really about channelling that “mad” energy as I call it into something more focused. Hyper dogs, much like puppies, have the attention span of a knat and unless you focus their mind you’re fighting a losing battle!
You’ll get plenty of advice from me before your photoshoot about what to bring for your hyper pet and what you can do beforehand to take the energy level down a notch or two. We don’t want your dog exhuasted, cause like where’s the fun in that?! But dropping their energy level to a 90 is pawfect for getting some beautiful portraits.
So are you ready?
I’ve a number of tricks up my sleeve for dealing with any pet personality. I have years of experience working with rescue dogs, most of whom don’t even know their own name! They either come from ruff backgrounds, abusive homes or just had a sh**ty start in life. The majority have behavioural issues of some kind.
What’s wonderful though is that dogs are incredible at overcoming the odds. They’re just so resilient! It’s one of the reasons they inspire me so much!
So if you have any worries, put them aside. We’ll work together to tailor your photoshoot specifically to your Pack so we can ensure it’s only fun throughout your experience.