June 7, 2022

Tips for Including Your Dog in Family Photos | Virginia Photographer

Tips for Including Your Dog in Family Photos

“Can our dog be in our family photos?” I always love getting this question. My answer is always a very enthusiastic YES for outdoor portraits or portraits at your home! I love dogs, and it’s always the best when your furry family member joins the fun.

As we plan your shoot, it’s important to prepare for a few extra details. Find out my top tips for including your dog to your family photos below! Also, if you’re doing a portrait session with another photographer, ALWAYS ask permission first. All photographers have different guidelines, so you’ll want to make sure everyone is on the same page before you book.

golden retriever in engagement photos

1. Bring a family member, friend or dog sitter.

Most pups get so excited about being in a new place, especially when you’re doing something fun together! My top tip is to make sure someone comes along to hold the leash throughout the session. Although I’ll take many photos of you + your dog, you’ll want some variety in the final gallery. It’s also great to give your dog a break. Having someone there will help your dog relax during downtime, and they have the option of walking your dog around or attending to any other needs.

The end result? You’ll be able to focus only on each other, and your dog will have a blast walking around in between photos.

2. Don’t forget to bring treats or a toy!

Hearing a squeak or seeing a treat can help me get their attention when I need it, and reward them for doing a good job. Since every dog has their own diet requirements, I recommend bringing your own so you know they’ll enjoy the treat.

fine art film photographer washington dc

3. Consider getting a simple collar and leash.

Having a streamlined collar and leash allows the focus of the photos to be on you two + your dog, instead of being distracted by a bold collar or complicated leash/harness set-up. Of course, it’s always important to put safety first, so if your dog needs a harness I recommend using one. But it can be helpful to find one in a color that matches your pup, or that has a simple design.

Old Town Alexandria cobblestone location photo

4. Go on a walk or tire your pup out before the session.

If you know your dog has lots of energy, it can be helpful to go on a walk just before the session. That way, when you arrive, he or she will be a little calmer for the session. If you’re able to come early and get your dog used to the location, that can help as well.

5. Let your photographer know ahead of time & confirm dogs are allowed at your location.

Dogs are welcome at my outdoor sessions or in-home sessions as long as that venue/location allows dogs. All I ask is that you let me know ahead of time so I’m prepared! We always need to check since some places do not allow dogs, and we don’t want to be surprised that day.

Also, please note I cannot allow dogs or pets at my studio location. As much as I would love to, dogs are not allowed in the building due to rules outside of my control.

6. Looking for something extra adorable? Add cute accessories!

Why not get your pup all dressed up? A few ideas: floral collars, greenery leashes, bandannas and flower crowns. I’m always happy to refer you to a florist if you’re wondering where to find one! You can also see more ideas here.


7. If you’re planning a newborn session, there are a few extra considerations.

First, safety is most important. We need to make sure baby will be 100% safe for the entire session, so it’s not worth it to put your pup and baby together if there’s a chance your pup could get overexcited. Most of the time, we only need a handful of photos with your dog included, so they typically go pretty quickly.

Dogs also are not allowed at my studio (not my rule – my building’s rule!), so we would need to take your photos at your home. It typically works out well since we only need your pup to join for a handful of photos. The rest of the time, your pup will be comfortable in his or her home as we continue the session.

Bottom line – if you want to include your dog in newborn photos at your home, let me know when you book or in your questionnaire. We’ll chat about anything we need to do beforehand!

8. Have fun and let go of expectations.

Let’s be real: the pups and kids typically run the show! Don’t stress if they’re not perfectly behaved during the session. It’s an exciting, new experience, so of course your pup is going to be a bit more energetic than normal. Sometimes the silly photos end up being the cutest anyway, so try not to stress about your dog posing for the “perfect photo.” It should be a fun experience, and capturing your dog’s personality is one of my favorite parts.

Looking to book a portrait session with Emily Alyssa Photography? Get started here.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.