7 Tips for Taking Dog Pictures with Santa Paws (from Someone Who Tried It)
Taking photos with Santa is a classic holiday tradition, and now there are more opportunities to include your pup in the fun. A few years ago, I brought my Pomeranian Sammy to meet Santa at a local event and I truly treasure the photo as one of my favorites. While Sammy is pretty prone to having her photo taken (yes, I'm not a regular dog mom, I'm a millennial dog mom) there were still a few important steps we took to prep for the event, and some tips I learned from the experience on how to get that perfect holiday photo.
While Buddy the Elf may have claimed that Santa "smelled like beef and cheese," we suspect your pup wouldn't complain much about that. Here are some tips for preparing for your dog to meet Santa Paws and how to get the perfect shot.
Where Can You Get Dog Photos With Santa?
Pet photos with Santa are growing more popular every year as folks (like me!) continue to find fun ways to include their pups in family traditions just like every other member of the crew. Check out popular places in your area for holiday photos like Christmas tree farms and pet retailers. Both Petsmart and Petco often host Santa photo days during the holiday season so check your local store to see if you can snag a spot with the big man himself.
Another popular place for photos with Santa? Animal shelters! Many rescue groups and shelters will use Santa photo opportunities as a fundraiser to raise money for the animals in their care. Check some of your local humane groups and animal rescues and you may find an opportunity to not only get a great holiday photo of your pup, but also help a great cause.
Tips for Taking Your Pup to Meet Santa
1. Know Your Dog's Comfortability With Strangers
A crowded location with lots of other dogs and humans can be a stressful situation for even the most socialized of dogs. Make sure to move slowly and stay in tune with your dog's body language. If your dog's ears are pinned down, the tail is in an upright position, or the body is trembling or shaking, it might be a sign that they are overwhelmed or stressed out.
If your pup has a history of being fearful in large crowds or is not a big fan of meeting others, specifically kids and other pets, it might be best to leave Fido at home. If your dog has a bite history, you will definitely want to skip out on this tradition, and maybe stage a festive photoshoot in your living room instead!
2. Familiarize Your Dog With Camera Flashes
A flash could be disorienting to your pup, and many studio photo shoot set-ups have large flash equipment for capturing the best lighting. Practice taking pictures with a flash before your photo shoot day. While at home, take your pup's picture using a flash camera and then give them a treat. Repeat this a few more times and your pup will become more familiar with the flash and will even associate the flash with a prize. Just make sure you have treats on hand when going to meet Santa so the exercise isn't for naught.
3. Bring Your Pup's Favorite Treats
After practicing at home with your dog's favorite treats, make sure to bring a bunch to the photo shoot. These will be helpful in encouraging your dog to look at the camera while posing with Santa, as well as helping to introduce your dog to the guy in the big red suit.
4. Move Slowly When Introducing Santa
Unless you reside in the North Pole, Santa is likely a stranger to your pup. Strangers can be anxiety-inducing in a regular situation, but a strange man in a red suit with a large white beard can be especially unsettling to a dog who has never met the big guy before. Allow your pup to move slowly to greet Santa, and maybe even give Santa one of your pup's favorite treats to build trust.
A Santa who is at a pet meet-and-greet is likely familiar with how to greet a new dog, but make sure to allow your dog to sniff him out first, before immediately tossing him onto the stranger's lap. With enough treats and pats, your dog will surely make a new best friend.
5. Dress Your Pup in Their Holiday Best
Whether your dog is more of a pugly Christmas sweater kind of canine or a Christmas bandana pup, now is the time to dress him up in his holiday finest! Let's be real, this is totally going to be the family Christmas card this year, so allow your dog to show off his best 'fit to all of your mailing list. And if you're hopping in the photo with him, may we suggest a hilariously adorable matching sweater situation?
6. Practice Your Training Commands
Simple commands like "sit" and "stay" are especially useful when taking dog photos with Santa. If you are posing your dog next to Santa while he's sitting on his throne, instruct him to sit, which will have him facing the camera, and then instruct him to stay so that he doesn't immediately come running back to you, his trusted owner. Position yourself behind the photographer or camera with a treat or toy that is especially important to Fido. This will capture his attention and provide a great "happy" face for the photo. And don't forget to treat your pup after for his good behavior!
7. Take Plenty of Candids
If you have ever tried photographing a goofy pup, you likely know that they aren't always the most, ahem, photogenic. Instead of getting frustrated if you aren't capturing the most picture-perfect moment with Santa, keep snapping away while your pup is interacting with his new friend. Most of the time candids are better than staged photos anyways, and this will allow you to really capture your pup's personality!