When it comes to getting the perfect Instagram pic, knowing how to hold your dog for a photo is key to avoiding shot after shot of your pup in motion, looking at the ground, or barking at a nearby squirrel. It seems simple, right? You just hold your dog and then snap a picture, and you're all set to upload it for all of your friends to coo over. But it's not that easy, as you'll know if you've ever tried doing a doggie photo shoot. With a few expert-recommended tips, however, you'll be sure to come away with something fit for the 'gram.
Before you get started on your photo shoot, make sure to take a moment to ground yourself and get into a positive headspace. "The most important thing to remember is to be patient and kind, and keep being positive and upbeat," Lauren Burke, dog photographer and development manager for Early Alert Canines, tells Bustle. "Dogs are sensitive, and feel what you're feeling," she says. "If you're stressed and anxious about the photoshoot, your dog is more likely to feel that stress and anxiety and not be calm and happy during the shoot." Another key tip is to take plenty of breaks to both drink water, snack on some treats, and get some energy out with a little bit of playtime, Burke says. "Have fun with it, and they will too!"
If you're going to post a photo of you and your adorable pup to Instagram, you pretty much have two options: to take a selfie, or to ask someone else to snap the shot. If you want to hold your dog and take the picture yourself, make sure to prioritize your pooch's comfort first of all. "Hold the dog in a position that is most comfortable for the dog," certified professional dog trainer Joan Hunter Mayer, tells Bustle. This is not only good for their peace of mind, but will also make for a better photo. "If the dog is comfortable and relaxed, then they’re less likely to be squirmy," she says. "For large dogs, instead of holding them, position yourself in a way that enhances both subjects." For example, you could sit on the ground beside your fur baby, or you could put them on an elevated surface. As long as they feel safe and secure, you'll probably be able to get a great photo.
Just like you would when taking a selfie for Instagram, when someone else is taking your photo, make sure the dog is held in a comfortable position. "And, know the dog’s personality," Mayer says. "Some dogs enjoy facing the camera, some turn away." A dog who isn't looking right into the lens doesn't mean you won't get a great shot, though. This might be a great opportunity to take an "over the shoulder” image, she says, where the human has their back to the camera and the dog then faces the camera.
One common problem that people can run into when taking photos with their dog is that the little pup won't stop moving long enough for you to get the perfect pic. "If your dog is squirming, it probably doesn't want to be held," Burke says. Instead of just trying to force them to sit still by holding them tightly, try getting them used to the idea gradually over time with plenty of positive reinforcement, she says.
If your dog never seems to want to be held even after a good deal of practice, it's your responsibility as their fur parent to respect that. A photo of them solo running around the yard or snoozing in their favorite sunny spot will be just as cute.