|Paddy on set with her snacks.|
2. BREAKS. Just like people, dogs have varying attention spans. Paddy can go for about 5-10 minutes of photos before needing a quick breather. Make sure that your dog isn't getting too stressed out by giving them a chance to relax off the set. We packed a small ball for Paddy which we threw for her during breaks to keep her entertained and give her a nice break from posing. In addition to play breaks, all that hydration and excitement might mean more regular bathroom breaks than normal.
3. TOYS. Does your dog have a favorite toy? Make sure to pack a few items that will get your dog's attention behind the camera. While squeaky/noisy toys often get ears to perk in a way that is oh-so-adorable, we find that anything with noise is going to make Paddy break the pose she's holding. We typically bring one of Paddy's favorite toys or a little tennis ball to get her to look at the camera.
4. SNACKS. Low-calorie training treats make for great photo shoot snacks. We brought with us Blue Buffalo Bits Training Treats which are soft and easy to break into smaller morsels. Don't reward your dog after ever photo--use your judgment, otherwise the snack you have on hand will quickly become boring/expected. We also bring a VERY high value snack (little bits of Pupperoni), just in case. It also helps to make sure your dog does not eat/snack 2-3 hours before the shoot. If they're full, they're going to be less likely to want to work for the treats.
5. HAVE FUN! The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your dog is going to be. Things may not go perfectly, your dog may have absolutely no interest in what's going on, but getting frustrated will only make them less likely to listen. Stay calm and use a friendly tone of voice-- the more rewarding and positive the experience they have, the more they'll be into it in the future. We use lots of positive reinforcement (treats, pats, verbal encouragement), and always try to make sure Paddy is having fun on set.
We hope that these tips were helpful and that you'll share them with friends! Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes details of our shoot! and make sure to follow Pup Culture Magazine on Facebook for info about their Fall issue.