How To Get Your Dog To Pose For Pictures

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In a sea of selfies and food pics, one category of photos emerges as the most adorable on Instagram — puppy pics. While a post of a poodle wearing a top hat or a pug with a flower crown is super cute, if you're a dog parent, you know that the behind-the-scenes work of getting a half decent pic of your fur baby is no joke. If you can't quite figure out how to get your dog to pose for IG, a couple of expert-recommended tricks should make all the difference.

First of all, you shouldn’t force your dog to do anything, Russell Hartstein, CDBC, CPDT-KA, a certified professional dog trainer and founder of Fun Paw Care, tells Bustle. "Don’t force them into position or shine lights in their eyes." If your pup seems super anxious or just doesn't want to cooperate, there's no harm in waiting until a better time when they're feeling more relaxed.

Don't expect to get the perfect photo on the first (or second, or third) try either. "Depending on your experience taking dog photos, lights, angles, etc., it can take a while," Hartstein says. "Especially if you have a black or dark colored dog. They are notoriously more difficult to get good pictures of because of lighting."

Whatever you do, keep things fun and don't stress too much about getting the perfect glamour shot for your pooch. At the end of the day, pretty much all dogs pics are good dog pics. But if you want your best shot at getting a good shot, here are some tips to try out.

1. Keep Treats On Hand

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"The most basic way to grab your dog's attention is to hold a treat wherever you want them to look," professional photographer Brittney Williams, tells Bustle. "This might seem obvious, but your dog's attention span isn't very large, so it's important to be engaging," she says, "and to actually give them some of the treat as an initial hook." Just make sure that the treat you use is something dry and quick to eat, so you don't risk your pup getting messy or scurrying off to gnaw on the treat.

2. Ask A Friend To Help Out

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If you have a dog, chances are you have a friend who loves your dog, so don't be shy about asking for an extra hand for your doggie photo shoot. Depending on how serious you want to get, you could even ask one to act as the dog handler and another friend to stand behind you to get the dog's attention, Kat Kaye, a professional photographer who volunteers taking photos of the pets at the South Los Angeles Animal Center, tells Bustle. The more hands, the better.

3. Consider Using A Leash

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During a dog photoshoot, you might think that using a leash is a no-no, since it's not exactly aesthetically pleasing to have it in the shot. But if you have a few photo editing tricks up your sleeve, this might be a great option, says Kaye. "If the dog is very difficult to photograph, the dog handler can have them on a leash that they pull taut so that it's easy to retouch it out," she says.

4. Get A Little Silly

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When you're taking photos of humans, you might ask them to say "cheese." But that trick doesn't really work with dogs. Instead of calling their name to get their attention, which might make them think they should come to you, try another strategy. "If you have a lot of trouble getting your dog to look into the camera, just make the strangest high pitched sound that you can and that'll work almost every time," Kaye says.

5. Get A Little Sticky

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It's pretty commonly known that dogs of all sizes love a hearty spoonful of peanut butter. But that might not seem useful in a photoshoot. The thing is, if you're posing with your pup (or having them pose with another person), peanut butter could be your secret weapon. Try putting peanut butter on the cheek of the human in the frame to get that oh-so-adorable kiss shot, Emily Jenks, a professional human and dog photographer, tells Bustle.

6. Get Them Familiar With Any Props

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If you want your dog to wear a party hat or pose with cute props in the photo, make sure that the first time they see the decorations isn't during the photo shoot, Sally Morgan, PT, CST, a holistic physical therapist for pets and people and author of Dances of the Heart: Connecting With Animals, tells Bustle. "A dog shaking her head to adjust her hat or chewing at the decorations rarely is the picture you are trying to capture," she says.

7. Trade A Toy For Something Else

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You might expect that holding your pup's favorite chew toy in the air is a great way to get their attention for a photo, but that actually might not work as well as you think, says Morgan. "Try something novel like crunching a plastic water bottle, or ringing a bell, or tapping a desk top service type bell," she says. If the dog sees a beloved toy, they might think it's playtime and have a hard time focusing, so something less familiar might work better.

8. Keep The Location Familiar

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It can definitely be fun to get good shots of your dog in a cool or unusual location, but the key to actually getting them to pose for a pic is to make sure they're relaxed. "Avoid at all costs places they might be uncomfortable," Rich McSweeney, photographer for the Scituate Animal Shelter, tells Bustle. "If they don’t like crowds, for instance, you’ll never get a decent photo when you head downtown," he says. "Some dogs just like quiet, familiar places. If that’s the case, you can improve and vary your photos by using props and utilizing good natural light."

No matter which tactics end up leading to the best photo of the doggone cutest pooch around, make sure you're both having fun. After all, there's nothing sweeter than a genuine dog smile.