As we approach National Dog Photography Day at the end of July its a perfect time to see if we can improve some of the photos we take with our dogs and have some fun with our dogs in the process! Created by Kerry Jordan of Fur and Fables, the day celebrates dog photographers and their dog models they work with. Last year many events were created for the day but with the CoVid restrictions and understandable concerns by dog owners on meeting up there are going to be virtual events this year instead!
Our own dogs are always photogenic for us, and if you’re reading this blog about Dog Photos I’ll wager you have a few photos of your own dogs on your phone – or a few hundred?! I’ve got thousands and this phone was new in May lol!
What are your photos showing your dog doing? Motion shots are great to have – during walks, play, while jumping a log in the woods etc but if you’re looking for a ‘posed’ photo of your dog to use for your social media pages, or in preparation for a professional shoot shoot, to provide to a dog agency or to enter in a photo competition what poses does your dog really know?
Sit and Down are the most widely used poses as these are the most commonly taught Stay positions and I’ve seen some stunning dogs sitting or laying down in photos – however I’ve also seen some dogs who just look uncomfortable and including my own terriers can look a completely different shape when sitting or can look awkward in a down stay! So how about we look at some fun poses that we can teach our dogs as tricks and work on duration to get some quirky photos too!
Some of my favourite tricks to teach in a Doggie Actors Class or for my own dogs are Play Bow, Paw Wrap an Item, Hold an Item while standing or sitting, Front Paws Up on an Item, and Cross Paws! All are started close up and taught at a dogs own pace, using positive methods of luring and reward based training. Clicker training can also help dogs learn these new poses!
The Play Bow is usually lured from a standing position so the front end lowers but it can be possible to teach a dog starting in a down and encouraging them to lift the bum.
Paw Wraps are an extension of a give paw or paw targeting. Here dogs literally wrap their paw and foreleg around an item, often starting with a pole or owners leg. Dogs can actually learn to use their own body to support themselves and then can hold an item with their paw wrap without needing anyone to hold the item steady which looks amazing for poses!
The old favourite of ‘Hold’ is asking a dog to open their mouth and take hold of an item offered to them then just remain static and holding. So not a retrieve, no movement, just the hold! Not all dogs are keen on fetch and holding items so this can take some practise while other dogs love to have a toy etc in their mouth but maybe like to play, throw things etc so then it’s working on then holding the item still!! Once a dog is happy to hold something they can hold a funny toy, a sign or flag or a rosette they have won!
One of my favourites is the Paw Up on an Item. You can find items to use in most places – so in the home and garden a box works but also a chair for taller dogs, flower pots, Christmas presents in December, pumpkins at Halloween. On walks tree stumps make for a really nice natural pose with the front paws up! As do rocks on the beach, benches at the park etc. Starting by luring your dog to place a paw on a secure and non slip item you then progress to having two front paws on the item and rewarding this.
Cross Paws is often better with longer leg dogs purely to see that the paws are crossed but smaller dogs can still learn this trick! Starting with dogs in a down position and deciding which might be your dog’s dominant paw we work on a paw target to your hand and gradually guide the paw to target your hand further to one side so they are crossing the targeting paw over the static paw. It can take a little practise especially to ask your dog to keep the paw in place but the results look fantastic!
Once you’ve worked on a pose for a few short sessions and your dog is able to do the pose without being lured the next stage is working on duration: holding the pose for long enough that you can take a photo!! At first you may need someone else to take the photo while you help your dog with the pose but once they can stay in position for a good 10-15 seconds that is often enough time to move away a little, hold up your camera or phone and take a couple of pics! One way to help your dog stay in position is to work on moving away a couple of steps and then return to your dog to give a reward, praise then release them and have a little game to celebrate.
Remembering that 26th July is National Dog Photography Day, we have some exciting challenges coming for this month to teach your dogs some of these fun trick poses in preparation for showing us how cool your dogs look in your photos on 26th – there’s even prizes up for grabs for our favourites!! Look out for details via live videos, Q&A sessions to help you with your training and follow Kerry’s progress on some of these poses with her own Whippets and Boo.
National Dog Photography Day: 26th July
Check out Kerry’s Work at Fur and Fables:
Dog Training for Essex & Suffolk
Kennel Club Accredited Dog Trainer Certified Trick Dog Instructor
Certified Professional Canine Fitness Trainer