When the snow starts blowing and holiday tunes start playing on the local radio stations, everyone starts to turn their minds towards Christmas. From gift buying to holiday parties to Christmas concerts and more, the holiday season is chock full of busy days and fun things to do. Many families like to schedule photo shoots for a brand new festive shot of the whole family to adorn this year’s Christmas card to proudly mail out to family and friends. In recent years, there has been a new trend that many dog owners like to take part in during the holiday season: dog photos with Santa. Many photographers offer private shoots in their studios, allowing families to get the perfect shot of Fido. Many shelters, pet stores, and even local groomers arrange dog photos with Santa; often as a means to help raise money to care for dogs in need. Photo shoots of your dog with Santa can be lots of fun; however, it is not always easy getting Fido to cooperate when it comes to capturing that perfect shot. If you’re thinking of taking your pooch for a photo with the “Big Man” himself, what are some things you can do to help prep for the shoot?
Getting Picture Perfect
For Fido to truly look his best for photos with Santa, he’ll need to be groomed just prior to his session appointment. Even breeds that don’t have much coat to speak of can benefit from a bath to help them look sparking clean for their holiday photo.
Schedule an appointment with your local groomer well in advance of the photo shoot to ensure they will have availability for your little canine bundle of joy.
Deck Your Dog Out in the Perfect Christmas Ensemble
While some dogs truly hate being dressed up in clothing, others almost seem to take pride in being cuted up in Christmas apparel. Many department stores and boutique pet shops stock a wide variety of Christmas-themed outfits to help your pooch get into the holiday spirit. From festive velvet collars outfitted with sleigh bells to reindeer ears, elf costumes, and more, you’ll have no trouble finding a cute Christmas getup that suits your pooch’s personality to a T.
When selecting Christmas apparel for your pet, be sure to purchase the appropriate size to ensure your dog’s movement is not restricted. Always bear in mind your dog’s comfort level. If your dog is truly unhappy wearing cute Noel-themed clothing, it is best to forego the costume and opt for the au naturel look instead.
To help set your dog up for success, it is always a good idea to get him used to any clothing he may be wearing for a photo well in advance of a shoot. Feeding your dog lots of yummy treats and lavishing praise on him while he sports his festive costume may help him to feel more at ease when dressed up. However, for dogs that simply aren’t happy cuted up for Santa photos, a bandana is an excellent way to perk up the photo’s festive charm while keeping your pooch content.
Some pet stores also sell dog collars which have bow ties attached to them. The ties come in a variety of seasonal prints, allowing you to select the one that highlights your dog’s best features.
Getting Fido Ready for His Fans
If you are planning to attend a Christmas pet photo shoot in a busy area such as a grooming salon or pet store, you will be sure to encounter lots of crowds. Many dogs can become overwhelmed with so much congestion, particularly if it is in a small space. Having that many dogs in a restricted area can also be a recipe for a dog fight, so it is vitally important to ensure you place the proper precautions in place to keep your dog safe.
Being in a confined space with many unfamiliar dogs and people can be stressful for both you and your dog. Though you know your dog well, you don’t know the tendencies of the dogs around you, and some may not be dog-friendly. To help set your dog at ease, it is important to allow your dog to express his own boundaries and to provide support for him.
If your dog displays a reticence to approach new people, it is important that you respect this and not force him to. If being in close proximity to other dogs makes your pooch feel ill at ease, it may be best to ask the staff to give you a specific time for your photo and to wait in the car until it is your turn. If your dog is shaking, panting heavily, or expressing other signs of serious discomfort, it is best to abandon plans for a Santa photo and head for home.
Another important component of helping your dog to feel comfortable with a photo shoot is your own demeanor. If you are calm, your dog will feel that calm energy radiating down the length of his lead, giving him the confidence he needs to remain in a calm state. However, this works conversely as well. If you are stressed, your dog will sense that anxiety and will, in turn, also be stressed and anxious.
When packing things to bring along to the photo shoot, you will want to be sure you have a small bag of treats that your dog loves and is highly motivated by. These will help to keep your dog focused on you during the wait time for photos. But treats are also extremely helpful in getting your dog to look at the camera. Simply stand beside the photographer and hold a treat up in the air to get your dog’s attention. Most dogs will immediately become alert and lean in towards the camera in an effort to get to the treat. You’ll want to be certain to reward your dog with lots of treats and praise after the photo shoot is done.
Making Friends with Santa
Some pets take a little bit of time to warm up to Santa. After all, it’s not every day they come in contact with a large jolly man in a big red suit who also happens to be sporting an immense white beard. To help your dog make friends with Santa, take the time to do a slow introduction prior to setting up for the photo. Give Santa some of your dog’s favorite treats to give your pooch and allow your dog to approach him when he is ready. Care must be taken not to force any introduction as this may simply reinforce any fear.
Some dogs will be too stressed or anxious to have their photo taken with Santa alone. If this is the case, you can help alleviate your dog’s nervousness by being in the picture as well. Your presence can help your dog to feel more confident and may yield a much better result.
If your dog is expressing a strong aversion to having his photo taken with Santa, it is best to forego the session. You can always set up an area at home in the midst of your Christmas décor where you can take some festive photos of Fido in an area where he feels more comfortable.
Thinking pet photos with Santa would be lots of fun? Follow our top tips to help your dog feel at ease and to get a great shot you can treasure for years to come!