Because, let's face it: Any photo featuring your pet will be pure holiday magic.

'Tis the season to start thinking about the festive card you'll send to everyone in your address book this December. As you brainstorm how you'll pose your family for a happy holiday photo, you can't forget the most important member: your dog! Pups have a way of stealing the show (and our hearts), and it's tough to imagine any family portrait without them.

couple posing with their dog in a snowy, holiday scene for their Christmas card
Credit: kanashkin / Adobe Stock

As you plan this year's photo, you might need a few cute dog Christmas card ideas that feature your beloved floof. We spoke with a photographer for her best advice to create the most adorable shot yet.

1. Cuddle Together How You Normally Would.

As photographer Avi Loren Fox says, let's face it, the dog is the real star of the family. One year, she discovered this during a family photo shoot when everyone piled into a hammock together, and their pup jumped right up with them. Cuddling is one of your favorite parts of having a pet, and it's a sweet thing to illustrate in your dog Christmas card.

2. Catch Them Being Adorably Naughty.

Your baby floof is a good boy or girl … until they aren't. As much as they try, even the most well-behaved dogs sometimes let their curious streak take over. During your photo shoot, put out a bag of treats and watch as your pup carefully peeks their snout in for a whiff. You might get lucky and capture this hilarious (and cute) dog Christmas card.

3. Go for a Walk.

Think about when your pup is the happiest: anytime they are with you, anytime there is food, and anytime you lace up your sneakers to take him for a walk. Fox says one of the best ways to create a dog Christmas card photo is to get the family moving on a hike or a walk. In fact, her favorite animal photos are always action shots. "We'll schedule the shoot in a location that is meaningful to the family, and I'll have everyone walk towards me in a line, band style, with the dog leading the way or lovingly at the heels of the dog's people," she continues. "They're candid, full of life, and also capture the reality of how time is spent with the beloved pooch."

4. Have Them Sport Some Antlers, a Santa Hat, or a Bow.

Okay, okay, this dog Christmas card idea is more for you than it is for your best fur friend. But because they love you unconditionally, they'll put up with some costume accessories for at least a few minutes. Whether you go with antlers, a bow, a bandana, or a full-on Santa suit, the photo will be frame-worthy.

5. Hold Your Dog Like You Would Kids.

While you love your kids (or hey, you want them one day), your dog is also your baby. For your dog Christmas card, Fox says a wonderful way to bring some canine love into your family is not only to hold the kids but also the dog. "Put the parents on each end and the kids/dogs in the middle and have everyone go cheek to cheek," she says. "Your puppy will look surprisingly human in a cute way, and there is nothing sweeter than a row of faces who love each other smiling back at you from a holiday card."

Bonus points if you're all wearing matching pajamas or Christmas sweaters!

6. Sit Them in Front of the Tree.

As a pet parent, you know how it goes: The moment the holiday decorations are pulled out of the attic or basement, your dog gets to sniffin'. They are curious about these familiar boxes and eager to see what's inside. Once the excitement has worn off, have them sit pretty in front of the tree to create the most festive dog Christmas card.

7. Get Creative With the Text.

It's not only about the image, but about the writing! As you decide what to print on your Christmas card, get creative by incorporating references to your pup. You can say something like "Love is a four-legged word," "Paws, Love, and Cheer," or "Woofy Christmas," to name a few. Need some inspiration? Start with this list of 101 quotes about the love of a dog.

8. Drape Them in Lights.

Your least favorite aspect of putting up Christmas decorations may be the tedious task of detangling the twinkling lights. It's not a fun to-do, but one that will probably intrigue your pup. Once you've finally perfected the string, wrap it around your pup while it's plugged in for a bright and colorful dog Christmas card moment. However, if your dog shows any signs of fear or stress, never force them to do anything they don't want to (stick to a sweet family photo sans props instead!).

9. Put Your Dog Front and Center.

Your dog has a way of stealing your attention when they dream in their sleep, wag their tail at a toy, or freak out the moment you arrive home. It's part of why having a pet is such a fulfilling experience. So, for a dog Christmas card idea, put your pet right in the front of the image, Fox recommends. Ask your photographer to focus on the dog's face, with the family slightly blurred in the background but smiling. "Putting the dog front and center while setting the family in the background adds a twist of honest humor to your holiday photos," she says.

10. Show Off the Best Friends There Ever Were.

There's something unique and special about the relationship your children build with the family dog, especially when they see each other as playmates. It's the sweetest dynamic, and it makes for the type of dog Christmas card photo that you'll treasure for decades to come. (Just try not to cry!)

11. Plant a Smooch.

You give your doggo kisses; they return the favor. It's not exactly sanitary, but it's part of the gig of being a pet parent. So for a sweet dog Christmas card photo, plant a smooch on them as you do every single day. Not only is it realistic, but it really depicts how your pup is part of the family.

How to Take the Perfect Family Christmas Card Photo With Your Dog

Fox says that taking the perfect Christmas card photo with your dog is all about making your pup part of the experience. As you head out for the photo shoot, here are a few things you can do to prepare your furry pal for the occasion:

  • If your dog is the type of breed that needs regular grooming, make sure they have an appointment a week or so before the photo shoot.
  • The morning of the shoot, give them a good brushing so their fur or hair is shiny and fresh.
  • For doggos who need a lot of exercise, go for a long walk the morning of the photo shoot to burn off some of their energy.
  • Bring treats to reward your dog for being well-behaved during the photo shoot.
  • Bring a squeaky toy or ball they love so the photographer can grab their attention for a photo.
  • Have a way to secure your dog when you're taking photos without them. If it's cold, make sure they can hang out in your car where they will stay warm.
  • As always, bring water, food, and a collapsible bowl to put it in when they get hungry or thirsty on the go.

And most important of all ... Be ready to go with the flow and embrace the imperfect moments. Pets are adorable for their unpredictability. You may not capture the moment you were planning for, but any photo of your pet being themselves will be pure holiday magic.