April 13, 2021

Tips for Including Dogs in Your Family Photos | Austin Family Portrait Photographer

Dogs are truly members of the family, so as an Austin family portrait photographer my clients will sometimes ask if they can include their four-legged friends in our session. My answer is YES! I know dogs are often your first “baby,” so I welcome families to bring them for both outdoor and studio sessions.

Often dogs can be a lot like having a toddler at a session. You really have to embrace that sweet but unpredictable nature, especially with puppies!!

I find it always helps to make sure Mama (and the rest of the family) are well-prepared prior to any session. With dogs, its no different! Even if they are really well-behaved, it helps to keep a few things in mind when you include dogs in your family sessions!

Family of five with dog cuddling in tall grass. Photo by Austin Family Photographer, Sana Ahmed Photography.
Photo of small dog during family session by Sana Ahmed Photography.

Tips for a successful family session with your Dog

Keep Realistic Expectations

You know your pup’s personality more than I do, so its important to keep realistic expectations when incorporating them into your session.

Your dog may get distracted being outdoors around other people. They also may not lay right next to a new baby like you hope during a studio newborn session. My top priority is baby’s safety so if a pose isn’t working with your pup, we may have to try something else.

Don’t worry- it will still be adorable!

Adorable in studio family session with goldendoodle in Austin, TX. Photo by Sana Ahmed Photography.
Two kids with family dog during in-studio session. Photo by Austin family photographer, Sana Ahmed Photography.

Enlist a friend or family member to help

Having someone you trust to hold your dog’s leash is a huge help! During a session, I will take many photos of your family and pup together. But, there are times when we’ll want to give your dog a break!

This is when a friend or family member comes in handy! They can hold the leash and let your dog explore, allowing you to focus on just your kids for a few moments.

Help Your Dog Become Familiar with our Session Location beforehand

If your pet is unfamiliar with the session location, it can be helpful to take them there a few days before your session to let them explore and take it all in.

Family dog by creek in Austin, TX. Photo by Sana Ahmed Photography.
Family session in beautiful Austin TX park with dog. Photo by Sana Ahmed Photography.
Sweet image of toddler hugging dog in park. Photo by Austin family photographer, Sana Ahmed Photography.

Bring the Necessities

Treats are a must for a session with dogs! We’ll use those as a positive reinforcement.

Please also bring extra potty bags, a water bowl, and a nice leash and collar. I recommend bringing the compact pop-up, silicone water bowls. This is especially important for the warm months here in Austin!

For your pup’s collar and leash, it really helps to have simple, solid colored options. Leather tends to photograph better than a nylon collar or those with reflectors. Leashes are required for some venues so be sure to check that prior to our session date!

Baby and dog looking at each other in studio session. Photo by Austin family photographer, Sana Ahmed Photography.
Mom petting dog during studio family session. Photo by Sana Ahmed Photography.
Family session with dog in Austin, TX studio. Photo by Sana Ahmed Photography.

Tire Your Pup Out

Whereas toddlers tend to struggle when overtired, dogs are much more calm! Go for a long walk the morning of the session and be active with them as much as you can!

Give them a day at the dog spa

Have your dog groomed or give them a bath with conditioner a day or two before your session. It will make their coat shine!

Limit food right before session

Limit food, especially before a car ride if your dog doesn’t fare well in the car!

Sweet family photo with two kids and dog near creek in Austin, TX. Photo by Sana Ahmed Photography. Family standing together with dog in the middle during sunset session. Photo by Sana Ahmed Photography. Parents with kids and dog under oak trees in Austin. Photo by Sana Ahmed Photography.

Final Reminder for your Family Portrait Session with a Dog | Austin Photographer

Sessions with your dog are so much fun! Don’t let yourself stress if they aren’t perfectly behaved. Documenting both their personality and your family dynamic is one of the best parts!

While I can’t always promise your pet will look at the camera, I can promise to provide beautiful images that speak to you as a family.

If you’re interested in having your pet join you for your newborn, maternity or family photography session in the Austin area, contact me! I’d love to work with you!

Dad and son cuddling two dogs during family session in Austin, TX. Photo by Sana Ahmed Photography.
Family photos with two dogs by Sana Ahmed Photography.

  1. […] you’re thinking about bringing your pup to your upcoming spring session, I have a blog post with all my favorite tips for making things move […]


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