Tips for Including Your Dog in Your Photos

April 15, 2020

As a dog parent, I know how I much I want to include Oliver and Canon in any photos we have professionally taken – they’re part of our story and our family! However, I also know that sometimes… dogs can complicate the situation. Today, I’m sharing some tips for including your dogs in your photos – hopefully this will make your session go as smoothly as possible – and result in some great images!

Bring a Friend or Family Member

Having an extra set of hands can be super helpful during an engagement session with dogs. Your friend or family member can walk the dog when we aren’t photographing them.  And more importantly, they can also hold toys and get their attention when we are photographing them! It also just takes a little stress off of all of us when we know someone is there just for your sweet pet. There’s a great company in Tampa that does this – FairyTail Pet Care! Brittany used them for her wedding and they watched Juniper all day! If you don’t have anyone else around to help, it will likely mean that Thomas won’t be photographing alongside me – which is fine – but not our typical jam.

FairyTale Pet Care in Tampa helped with Brittany's Art Ovation Hotel

Only Include them in Part of the Session

Once we’ve got our pup photos wrapped up, it would be nice to get your pet safely home. If you do bring a friend/family member, they can leave at this point and make sure that your dog gets home safely. Or, we could start the session by your home/apartment at a local park, snap some photos with your pup, return your dog to your home, and then head out for the second portion of the shoot. If we have the dog with us the whole time, it gets a little complicated trying to find a tree to tie him/her up to – unless you have a friend that is willing to help out for a few hours!

Bring Treats, Toys, Water, and Waste Bags

Be prepared! Treats and toys help get your dog’s attention! And of course… accidents happen. 😉

how to incorporate dogs into your engagement photos

Exercise Before the Shoot

If you’re able to get your pup out for a walk before the session, that should make them a little more sleepy when we’re ready to shoot. Hopefully this will mean they’re less distracted during the shoot and we can get them to look at the camera.

Tips for including dogs in your engagement photos

Pick a Location that is Dog Friendly

The last thing we would want is to arrive at a park or location and see a sign that says “no dogs”! Let’s communicate ahead of time and ensure that this will go smoothly.

Dog engagement photos

Give your Photographer a Head’s Up

This is important! For us personally, we might bring a different camera that has autofocus to ensure that we can keep up with your dog. If we don’t know ahead of time, we might not have the right equipment. Or, as previously mentioned, we can make sure that the location is dog friendly!

tips for dog engagement photos

Time their Grooming Appointment Appropriately

I don’t know about your dogs – but mine look ridiculously goofy (aka: almost naked) after they get groomed. They need a good two months to grow into the cut and look cute again (we like ours extra fluffy). Plan accordingly. 🙂 Photo of us and our pups by Torrey Fox.

Get a Cute Collar and Leash

If your pup wears a harness, it may be nice to try to get a simple collar and leash for them for the shoot. Avoid neon and bright colors and focus on pastel tones or even a fun pattern. Their leash and collar will be in the photos – so plan ahead! Bow ties are also a cute addition!

tips for including your dogs in your photos

I hope you enjoyed these tips for including your dogs in your photos! Let me know if you have any others! I’d love to pass along the advice to my couples! And, if you’re interested in us photographing your engagement session with your pup – send us a message! 



We are a husband and wife Bay area wedding photography team. We strive to capture joyful moments. We use film and digital cameras to capture your wedding with a timeless, fine art approach.