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5 Tips for Including Your Pet in Your Engagement Session

More and more of my brides and grooms ask me if they can bring their favorite doggo to their engagement session, and my answer is always, “Of course!” I’m an animal lover, so I understand just how meaningful including a furry family member in your session can be. To help you and your dog have the best experience possible, these are my top 5 tips for including your pet in your engagement session.

tips for including your pet in your engagement session

#1: Keep it brief

Unless your dog is an obedience ninja, you should plan to limit your fur baby’s involvement to the first 20 minutes or the last 20 minutes of your session. Your pet is of course welcome to tag along for the rest of the session (more on that later!), but limiting the time your good boy or girl is “on-camera” helps us capture some beautiful images of your pet while they’re fresh and focused. If a dog is expected to behave in front of a camera for a full 60+ minute engagement session, chances are they will act out, which isn’t fun for anyone involved. Tips for including your pet in your engagement session

#2: Bring an assistant

Whether it’s a sibling, parent, or friend, bring someone to your session who can be in charge of holding your dog’s leash while we’re doing pictures of just the two of you. Bonus points if your helper transports your puppy in a separate vehicle — that way neither of you has to worry about getting dog hair on your nice clothes right before the session.

#3: Pamper your pooch

Feed and exercise your dog before the shoot. That way, your fur baby won’t be as hyper or antsy when it’s time to take photos. Make sure your pet’s grooming needs are taken care of, too — we want your dog to look as good as you! If you own a breed that’s prone to drool (I’m looking at all of you Newfoundland fans out there!), pack a towel or rag to mop of slobber so your pooch can “touch up” between shots.

And don’t forget…pack plenty of water and some treats to bring along in case your dog gets thirsty or needs some motivation throughout the session. Tips for including your pet in your engagement session

tips for including your pet in your engagement session

#4: Consider your pet’s “wardrobe”

You put a lot of time and thought into planning outfits for you and your spouse, so don’t neglect your doggo’s look, either! Make sure all grooming needs are taken care of before your shoot so your puppy looks his or her best. Just as I encourage grooms to visit the barber a week or more before their wedding, schedule your doggo’s grooming appointment a little bit in advance so he or she has time to “fluff out” a little bit after getting cleaned up. We want you, your man, and your furry friend to all look clean and natural, so allow for some time to recover from that “freshly buzzed” look.

Furthermore, make sure your dog’s collar and leash don’t clash with the colors you’ll be wearing. When in doubt, a simple brown leather lead is classy and goes with almost everything! Tips for including your pet in your engagement session

#5: Stay positive

Pets can sense anxiety, so stay positive, even if your dog misbehaves a little. Embrace the genuine moments, and be prepared to take breaks during the session if your fur baby needs a few minutes to run off some extra energy! Your dog will probably pick up if you’re frustrated, and that won’t help. It’s all right if your fur baby doesn’t look at the camera all the time — playful photos are good, too! In fact, you might even consider bringing a toy or two to the session. That way, we can capture the three of you doing what you do best — playing together as a little family!

I hope this guide has been helpful for all of the dog lovers out there! I can’t wait to meet your furry friend! If you are looking for a Chicago Fine Art Wedding Photographer, please reach out to Joshua Harrison Photography!

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