Plus, expert tips for your own paw-some photoshoot experience!
In my fascinating world of dog photography, I’ve had the opportunity to capture countless treasured moments. I’d love to delve deeper into the gorgeous photoshoot I had with Chloe, a dedicated dog owner and now trainer, and her remarkable German Shepherd, Nova. What makes this pair unique is the extraordinary journey that brought them together – Nova’s challenging puppyhood inspired Chloe to embark on a path as a dog trainer, ultimately becoming an unbreakable bond between them. Join me as I recount the memorable experience of capturing the beauty and connection between Chloe and Nova, and also explore some thought-provoking questions to help you prepare for your own pet photoshoot.
As Nova explored the woodland at Barlaston Downs Banks, exuding confidence and grace, it was hard to imagine that she was once a challenging puppy who pushed the limits of Chloe’s determination and patience. Chloe told me that Nova used to be very possessive over balls and would run away whenever she found them, one particular time it took 45 minutes and 5 people to help get her back. The decision to become a dog trainer was driven by Chloe’s deep-rooted desire to understand Nova and help her thrive.
From the moment I asked for the first pose, it was evident that Chloe and Nova shared an exceptional bond. Their synchronized movements, mutual trust, and unwavering connection gave off a beautiful energy, making their dynamic relationship truly photogenic. Chloe’s expertise as a dog trainer was evident in the way she effortlessly guided Nova, embracing her independence while maintaining a strong and harmonious partnership.
During the photoshoot, I captured breathtaking images that depicted the essence of their bond – Nova’s piercing eyes, mirroring Chloe’s unwavering love and devotion. Each shot encapsulated the unique qualities that make Nova one of the best-trained dogs I’ve had the pleasure of photographing. Together, they radiated the epitome of companionship, a testament to Chloe’s dedication and Nova’s willingness to learn and grow.
“Nova means the world to me! I got a dog thinking I would be a cool dog mum with all the accessories and insta-worthy pictures, but her drive and reactivity has pushed me to become a better dog owner. She has changed my life completely, I now spend all my spare time training with her.” – Chloe
The photoshoot with Chloe and Nova was an unforgettable experience that highlighted their incredible journey. Chloe’s decision to become a dog trainer not only transformed Nova into one of the best-trained dogs around but also solidified an everlasting bond built on trust and mutual understanding.
For this blog I had the opportunity to interview Chloe and gather some valuable insights about dog training. Her expertise provided me with helpful tips that can assist you in getting ready for your very own photoshoot with your dog.
1. Are there any specific training exercises or warm-up activities you recommend doing before a photoshoot to ensure they are focused and comfortable?
The top command I would recommend practising for the photoshoot is a duration sit/down/stand, it would be useful in keeping your dog focused while Katie works her magic! I would start practising this at home before you introduce duration, distance and distraction.
Another command I would recommend is ‘Watch Me’. It helps keep your dog’s attention on you or Katie.
A command I wish I taught Nova before the photoshoot was closing her mouth (only for a quick second!). Nova is naturally a goofy looking German Shepherd, but I also wanted some shots where she looked more wolfy and serious, and this can only be achieved when she had her mouth shut. I would definitely recommend teaching your dog a command for closing their mouth if you’re wanting some photos with a different vibe. (Please note you shouldn’t close your dog’s muzzle for more than a second to prevent them from panting)
2. Are there any specific props or toys that you recommend bringing along to engage a dog and capture their attention during the session?
Whatever your dog loves the most! For Nova, it’s her ball on a rope, it’s what motivates her the most! For other dogs, it could be a squeaky toy, a rabbit fur ball, a rope tug, cocktail sausages or pate!
Find what motivates your dog and bring a few things along. Don’t forget to always play with your dog or reward with food in between shots too! They are posing hard and should be rewarded for it, make it a massive party for them!
3. What strategies can owners employ to create a calm and comforting atmosphere for their dogs in unfamiliar settings or during a photoshoot, especially when they tend to experience anxiety or become overwhelmed?
I would have a chat with Katie first of all to let her know if your dog tends to get anxious or overwhelmed as she would be able to suggest locations that might be more suitable for you i.e. somewhere quiet with little off lead dogs or somewhere open where your dog can see their surroundings.
My number 1 rule is always advocate for your dog. I would have a plan in your head of the poses and commands you want to do and practise these in advanced with your dog so your dog isn’t going to be thrown into the deep end during the shoot. Start proofing the commands in an environment your dog is comfortable in, then slowly increase the criteria in distraction and duration. If your dog is getting overwhelmed, then have a break to relieve the pressure! How does your dog decompress when they are stressed? Could you do some scatter feeding, letting them sniff for a while, or relieving the stress through chasing a ball or playing tuggy with you?
I think it’s also important for owners to be in the right mindset, as I do believe sometimes our own anxiety could be transferred to our dogs. Again, I think having a plan in your head of what you’d like to be doing in the shoot would be really helpful, as you can be practising the commands or even doing a similar walk in advanced to the shoot to ease the stress of being in a new environment.
4. Do you have any suggestions for incorporating unique training techniques or poses that can showcase the special bond between an owner and their dog?
My favourite and easiest one to teach is ‘paw’ facing each other, I think that always looks amazing! I think you can showcase your bond through your favourite trick or command your dog likes to do, Nova loves doing ‘middle’, we had a couple of photos through Katie where Nova was between my legs in a down and they were some of my favourites! There was also one where she was in heel position and looking up at me. I think next time I had a photoshoot, I would try some shots with her jumping up at me, or weaving in between my legs as they are her favourite things to do at the moment!
As you prepare for your own pet photoshoot, consider these points to help personalise and enhance the experience, ensuring that the photographs captured will be cherished for a lifetime. Your dog doesn’t need to be exceptionally confident or extensively trained to achieve stunning poses for portraits. In fact, I’ve successfully captured remarkable images of tiny puppies as well. However, investing some time in basic training techniques can not only enhance your dog’s development but also boost your own confidence when working with your dog.
Chloe is a Dog Trainer and Mantrailing Instructor covering Liverpool & Wirral. To find out more about her services please visit https://www.ascentk9.co.uk/