Bringing Your Dog to Your Engagement Session

Today’s blog post is filled with tips on how to involve your dog (or dogs) in your engagement session! So many of my couples want to bring their fur child to their engagement photos, and this is the advice I give. You can also apply this advice to a maternity, senior, or family session – basically any shoot outside of your home! Here are five tips to make sure that you are fully prepared for your dog to be at your engagement session.

1. Choosing a Location

Location is KEY. Some parks or venues do not allow dogs, so make sure to choose a spot where your pup is allowed. If you need help deciding, I have a LONG list of session location ideas that I am happy to go over with you! We’ll also need to follow any rules that location has regarding pets. Many locations allow dogs as long as they are on a leash and picked up after. If you are wanting your dog off-leash, we’ll need to choose a spot that allows that.

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2. Things to Bring

You’ll want to bring dog treats for me to hold near my camera to get your pup’s attention, AND to reward them for good behavior! Don’t just bring a couple of treats – bring the bag so that we can make sure to have plenty.

If treats don’t get your dog’s attention, bring their favorite squeaky toy! Holding a loud toy near my camera often gets dogs to pay attention and perk up their ears.

You will also want to have a pretty collar and leash, especially if we are using a location where your dog has to stay on the leash at all times. If you bring a neon green leash and collar that you don’t like, I can’t really do anything about that in your photos. Make sure you like the look of the accessories your dog is wearing! You can also have your dog wear a bandana around their neck to cover up their collar if you want.

3. Bring a Friend

Your dog won’t be in every photo you take, and I can’t hold their leash and shoot at the same time. You have two options for when the dog isn’t in photos.

The first option is to bring a friend, and I HIGHLY suggest this for so many reasons. They can take care of the dog while we aren’t shooting, pick up after them, and walk them around if they need to get out excess energy in between shots.

The second option is to leave them in your car with the air conditioning running. This is a good option if your dog is calm in the car and we are at a location where you can also keep an eye on your car. However, several locations that I shoot at don’t give us a good view of the parking lot, so you might not have your eye on your vehicle at all times. If you leave your dog in your air-conditioned car, we will also have to take time ourselves to get them to the car and set up, which does take time away from shooting. This is why I feel like bringing a friend is the best option!

4. Get Them Groomed

Whether you groom your dog yourself or you take them to the groomer, make sure they’ve been recently bathed, trimmed, and brushed! This will make their fur coat look shiny and healthy in the photos. 

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5. Choosing Your Outfit

Most of my couples bring two outfits to their engagement session. One is typically more casual, and the second is dressier. I suggest having your dogs in the photos when you’re wearing your first outfit, which is typically the more casual one. You can play and run with your dog a lot easier in jeans than in a dress! This way we can also get the photos with your dogs out of the way at the beginning of the session.

If you’re thinking of bringing your pups to your engagement session, I hope this advice was helpful!

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I’m a wedding and lifestyle photographer based in Knoxville, Tennessee but available anywhere. If you have questions about booking me for a session or wedding, click here! To follow me on social media, check out my Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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