Photoshoots for anxious or reactive dogs

This week I will be talking about anxious and reactive dogs and how I make shoots work for them.

Reactive and Anxious dogs

Firstly I dislike the term reactive as it does not describe anything, all dogs are reactive if they weren’t that would most likely mean they were sleeping or deceased. hehe.

Reactive is usually a term people use when they are referring to aggressive dogs be that to people or dogs. So straight off the bat it is important for me to know what you mean by reactive as this helps me to tailor the session to suit you and your four legged friend, and not put myself or others at risk.

Cocker spaniel with anxiety

This is not me being judgemental, but purely a case of safety. After all its my job to ensure your photoshoot with me is enjoyed by all and goes smoothly.

I have first hand experience with an anxious dog and that is my Mr Red. He likes to make out he is big and brave but deep down he is anxious of anyone or any dog that comes in to our space uninvited unless he’s working with them (go figure)

Red cocker spaniel photo shoot

This is why it is so important when planning a shoot that you let me know all about your dog, its likes, dislikes and then I can tailor a shoot that works. For example if you have a dog like my Red who dislikes others, maybe the local park that is full of dogs isn’t the place to go as it will make it a stressful outing for all involved which will not make for great photos.

Equally, if your dog dislikes strangers and it is a dislike that can be over come by a cheeky yummy snack from the weird photographer lady then I am unlikely to suggest my small studio where they may feel trapped with me. I need to leave a shoot with all my fingers intact otherwise that limits my photograph taking capabilities hehe. An outdoor shoot with one of my long lenses would probably make your dog most comfortable.

Dog photoshoot

If you feel your dog wouldn’t be safe/comfortable in a public setting then just ask there are several different secure fields we can rent out for photoshoots. Also please do not worry if you are unable to let your dog off for whatever reason, its not all about action shots. If you would like to we can also try a long line for controlled action as I can easily edit lines and leads out of photos.

I guess what I am trying to say is please don’t write off having a photoshoot with your dog because you don’t think it is achievable. All dogs deserve a pretty portrait to hang on the wall. Red has got much better with his anxiety but even still I could not deprive the world of his gorgeous face so have learnt way that make him feel safe and happy.

As a shameless plug if you are struggling with a behavioural issue I also am a dog trainer as part of Whistle and wag dog training so please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Around the circle

As I am sure you know by now if you have read any of my previous blogs, I am part of a fabulous blog circle made up of pet photographers from all over the world. Please take the time to look through their blogs on the topic and see how they deal with similar issues.

Next on the list this week is Nancy E Kieffer

Syracuse photographer Nancy Kieffer shares tips for working with a reactive dog during a photo session.


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