Sponsored Post: I am being compensated by Look Who’s Happy for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The last time Rigby was hanging out on the blog, a few commented about how well-behaved he was for photos, and how their dog would never pose like that. I thought sharing a few of my “trade secrets” and tactics to get my challenging dog to pose might be helpful! Read on if you’re curious how I get Rigby to pose for my shutter snapping.
How to Photograph Your Dog
1. Teach commands
I’m assuming most of your dogs know sit and down, but if they don’t, that’s just where you should start! Once they’ve mastered those two commands, I started working on “leave it”, “stay”, and “look”. For leave it, I taught by first placing tasty treats in my hand. Rigby would sniff at it, and as soon as he stopped he would get a click and a treat. (We train new tricks with a clicker, which if you’re unfamiliar with clicker training, check out this article!) We worked up to putting treats on the floor and letting him sniff at it with my hand over the top until he left it, and then was clicked and treated. We worked on this over and over until he would leave the treat pile alone for extended periods of time.
For leave it, I taught by first placing tasty treats in my hand. Rigby would sniff at it, and as soon as he stopped he would get a click and a treat. We worked up to putting treats on the floor and letting him sniff at it with my hand over the top until he left it, and then was clicked and treated. We worked on this over and over until he would leave the treat pile alone for extended periods of time.
For stay, I first put him in a down and then would work on slowly backing away and clicking and treating the longer he would stay in the down position. We also worked on stay a lot while feeding him for dinner. I’d put him in a down, have him stay back from the bowl, and added the “wait” command with a quick release at first, making the release longer and longer the more he got the idea.
For look, Rigby would get clicked and treated whenever he made eye contact with me, eventually working to pair it with the word. This became super handy when it comes to taking a photo since often he is distracted by other things going on.
2. Be patient
Commands are tricky, and sometimes dogs seem to “forget” them. I know this can be super frustrating, but try to not get too upset. If your dog isn’t getting it, say “oops” and try again. And if your dog just isn’t having it, try again later. Sometimes pets, like humans, just need a break or a nap. ;)
3. Offer really tasty rewards
Rigby is insanely food motivated which makes posing him for photos a lot easier. We’re using Look Who’s Happy Treats right now, which he is obsessed with. They smell like real meat jerky (probably because they are!), are grain free, and are made here in the USA. Ever since the controversy surrounding jerky treats made in China, I’m super careful to only purchase items made in the USA and also made with meat sourced from the USA, Canada, and New Zealand, which these are.
While working on training or for photo shoots, I generally like to have two treats on hand to mix things up and prevent boredom from the treats I’m offering, so I grabbed the Fetch’n Fillets Venison Jerky and the Tempt’n Tenders Chicken with Pumpkin. The Chicken with Pumpkin are super easy to break into smaller bits for posing during photos and working on training, and I like using the jerky treats for bigger rewards since they don’t break apart as easily. We highly recommend Look Who’s Happy treats and will definitely be re-upping our stock when we run low! :)
4. Pick a well-lit environment
I know this one sounds a bit strange, but having excellent lighting is a must for pet photos. Dogs move quickly, and if you don’t have enough light, your shutter speed will be much lower and you’ll end up with Fido turning out blurry. I always try to pose Rigby in bright daylight in front of a window, or outdoors on a bright day. Don’t forget to take a lot of shots too – just like photographing anything else, it’s better to have too many shots than not enough to work with!
5. Have fun
Yes, this sounds dumb, but don’t take it too seriously! Dogs aren’t humans and don’t fully understand what you’re saying… but if you seem angry, they’ll definitely understand that! Training should always be a fun and positive thing. Plus, you’re less likely to get what you want from them if you’re not making it rewarding for them too. I have a bad habit of getting frustrated, so I try to walk away from a training session before I ever get to that point. And don’t forget to get in on the action – try a variety of poses, shots, and angles. It’s important to enjoy your photographer role too!
Have you tried posing your pet for photos? What tips and tricks work for you?
Rigby is such a cutie! Starla knows all her commands but gives me a really grumpy face when I make her stay for too long, so not sure if she’ll ever become doggy instagram famous with that pout.
Ha! I know what you mean. Rigby does not enjoy having to stay too long either!
This is such a great post, Rigby is so cute and he does look so well behaved here! I wish you could employ the same logic with cats so I could get ours to pose for cute photos but they just don’t really listen like dogs do.
Haha, so true! Training cats “commands” is nearly impossible. I was just lucky growing up that my cats were pretty docile and enjoyed my “photoshoots”.
My dogs are getting there but they are still so challenging to train for photographs. I’m interested though, what do you mean by he gets a “click” and a treat? What’s a click?
Ah, sorry, should have explained that a bit better! For teaching new commands, I use a clicker which reinforces the behavior I’m trying to shape. So when I click I’m essentially saying “Good boy!” and then giving a treat. Before starting using a clicker, you click and provide a treat to the dog after every click to teach them that click = good. It’s a little bit easier to train that way with new tricks because you don’t have to use any words, just the clicker.
No wonder you named a blog ofter that pup. Just look at that face. I’ll have to try these tips, ticks and treats.
Haha, aw, thanks Ashlee!
Rigby is so adorable.
My hounds totally will not pose for photos. Vinny seems to have short term memory loss (likely from his past abuse), so he just can’t remember. He’s the friendliest, most loving dog ever though, so it’s okay. He can’t help it. Vern just gets way too excited. They both know “sit,” and “shake,” but that’s it. Neither has learned any new commands except “lick” in the years I’ve had them (four years for Vinny, five for Vern).
I think it can just come with the territory of adopting previously abused dogs. Plus these two feed off each other’s excitement. It’s like trying to wrangle two toddlers who just want to play. I have to separate them if I want to try and photograph either of them.
I imagine it’s much harder getting two to pose than one! Sounds like you’re great at working with them in spite of their past abuses, poor guys!
He is so photogenic! Adorable.
Aw, thanks Chelsea! Gatsby is pretty darn cute too ;)
What a great tip! I will have to start doing this when I get home this weekend!
Thanks for the tips!
Thanks Ashley, glad they were useful!
well don’t have a Dog but many of your tips can be used to photograph my beauty products for my blog! great tips and beautiful Dog
Aw, thanks Janella! Glad the tips were helpful with other types of photos too!
Cute pup!!! Tip #2 is probably the hardest for me but imperative to get a good picture.
How 2 Wear It  http://www.how2wearit.com
Thanks Morgan! So true!
Your dog is gorgeous! We only have a hamster and some fish and the hamster is just not photogenic!
Haha! Hamsters move quick, I imagine that makes it hard to get good snaps!
I wish my dogs would sit still long enough to pose for pictures. I swear they’re both camera shy! They’re still so cute though, and I’m able to capture some good ones every once in awhile. I definitely need to try some of these tips. Your dog is SO ADORABLE! So fluffy. I just want to hug him.
Aw, thanks Tiffany! Hope some of the tips come in handy when they’re feeling a little camera shy!
Holy moly this is the cutest and most helpful post (all while being sponsored) I LOVE IT! Thanks for the tips..it helps when you model is so cute too :)
Aw, so glad to hear that Allison! Haha, it definitely does help! ;)
Such helpful tips! Rigby is adorable! I wish I had these tips handy when I was trying to snap a photo of my cousin’s new puppy (albeit with a phone camera).
Alessandra | The PumpUp Blog
Aw, thanks Alessandra! You’ll have to try them out next time! New puppies are the best :)
These are helpful tips, it definitely helps to use treats. I always have a difficult time capturing my pup on camera, it’s like she looks away on purpose just to make me irritated. She’s not all about social media like me I guess (;
Haha! Some pups seem to love it and others seem to hate it… just like people I suppose! ;)
It was REALLY easy to have Lucy pose for the camera, except sometimes she got in a mood where she’d turn her head the second I pulled out a camera. I’ve been thinking about getting a clicker for Twilight — do they work really well?
I love the clicker for training new tricks – it makes it super easy when you’re teaching something new so you don’t have to pair a word with it right away and can click for the right behaviors.
Your dog is too precious!
Sometimes my dog photographs like a champ and others…well not so much.
Thanks for the tips!
xoxo, Jenny || Breakfast at Lillys
Aw, thanks Jenny! Glad you liked the tips!
Aw Rigby is so photogenic! What a handsome guy :) I’ve heard that shiba inus are a bit… ornery (wily?), so good on you for training him so well!
Aw, thanks Alyssa! Haha, that is definitely true. He still has his moments, but we’re always working on it! ;)
These pictures are adorable! I’m getting a puppy this week so I’ll have to try these tips with her when she gets older!
Aw, thanks Ashley! Congrats on the new puppy – be sure to take a ton of photos and video… they grow up SO quick!
Aw! I love this! My dogs are so hard to photograph so I just make REALLY weird noises that make them stare at me and turn their head. Love this!
That’s a great way to get them to pose! So glad you liked the post, Lauren Ashley! :)
Great tips! We trained Rosie to “leave it” the same way (sans clicker). She’s really smart and I have found that a good 15 minute training session will wipe her out just as fast as an hour long walk. We are currently task training to complete her service dog certification. She’s learning “brace” so that I can use her as a support when I need to get up or sit down on a low surface and she’s learning to open doors! She’s really motivated by Trader Joe’s treats right now; but gets bored of them quickly so I’ll have to look into this brand! Thanks for sharing
Trader Joes does have some great treats, but Rigby definitely needs a lot of options as I find he doesn’t work as hard when he’s “bored”. Training definitely is a great dog exhauster, and it sounds liek you’re doing awesome work with Rosie! :)
I don’t have pets but I have kids and a lot of these tips could work with them too! What are clicks?
Clicks just refers to clicker training – sorry, should have clarified that a bit better! Basically, when shaping a new behavior (or teaching a trick) it’s a quick and easy way to say “good boy!”
Rigby is such a good dog! He’s like a pro model! :) I like taking Happy’s pictures outside but he gets so excited and distracted. I have to chase him around like a paparazzi. LoL. So I just wait until he gets tired to get some good shots. :)
Aw, thanks Hazel! Distractions outside are so hard! Trying to take photos of Rigby on walks when there are people and dogs around is so difficult. Tired dogs are definitely the easiest to photograph :)
This post is super helpful! Thank you so much :) Whenever I try to get photos of my dog, I get about 30 unflattering shots for every decent photo. Haha
XX, SS || A Little Seersucker Sass
So glad to hear that, and I know what you mean. I definitely don’t get the perfect shot every time – dogs just move to quick! ;)
These are amazing tips! I will definitely be trying these training ideas with my dog, she’s typically photogenic but it would be way better if I could control her better with commands!
Anchors and Pearls
Awesome, so glad they were helpful Sydney!
I’m so impressed! Logging these tricks for the future!
Glad to hear that, Kelly! :)
Rigby is the cutest ever. I have been trying to teach Amaya to be good for pictures… she knows all the commands but she gets distracted so easily! I probably need better treats. Also, I am SO excited we got matched for the book swap!!
Haha, it’s probably a little bit of the age factor too. Rigby was impossible to shoot when he was younger! I’m so glad too, I’m excited to see what you think of the books I picked! :)
Rigby is so cute! I might have to try some of these tricks the next time I’m home to get some cute pictures of my dog for my blog since I don’t have any yet. These tips also might come in handy when my dog decides he needs to be in my haul pictures by sitting on my clothing.
Jenni // The Beautiful Little Fools
Haha! Rigby loves trying to crash all of my “staged” photoshoots too. I always snap a few with him in them, it’s too funny not to!
I don’t have a dog but I really want to get a puppy soon! I will definitely keep these tips in mind :)
Progression By Design
So glad to hear that, and hope you’re able to get a puppy of your own soon! :)
Oh Rigby, such a cutie! Bella is super food motivated too, and it really comes in handy!
Thanks Angie! I’m so glad Rigby is food motivated, it sure makes everything easier! :)
My goodness this is too cute!! This post just makes me sad I don’t have a cute furry pet!! Haha.
Aw, thanks! Sorry you don’t have a pet to try it out on, but I’m sure someone will let you borrow theirs! ;)
My dog is such a nut. She actually hates the camera, anytime I pull my phone out to snap a pic of her, or my camera, she runs away! It’s crazy! Your tips are great though, I’ll definitely try some of them out!
Oh no! I’m sure with a little desensitization in the form of lots of treats will get her past that! ;) Good luck!
Rigby is seriously the cutest! I always have the hardest time photographing my dogs and this post was super helpful!
Pick Your Beau
Aw, thank you, and so glad to hear that!
This was honestly so helpful! My dog never listens or wants to take photos. I definitely want to train him to cooperate more to get better photos. Thanks for the advice!
Annie N Belle
So glad to hear that Annie! You’re so welcome!
Rigby is so photogenic! My best dog snaps come when they’re really tired & almost asleep. I know that’s kind of cheating…
Haha! That’s a great time to get some snaps in!
Love this!! I am going to try this on my dog, Duke, and my kitten, Hendricks.
Thanks Claudia! Hope it goes well! :)