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brown and black dog

Greeting Dogs at the Photo Session

My niece recently took in a dog that had crawled under the school bus.  While she has been looking for the owners, the dog is happily spending time with her family.  When I went over to visit however, I was suddenly greeted by a barking dog. Working with animals over the past years, I  Immediately transitioned to greeting mode.   While many would think greeting mode would in fact be going up to the dog and petting him, it is just the opposite.  The following is how I greet a dog I don’t know whether on the street or during a photo session. 

brown and black dog
brown and black dog

Do not approach the dog

I find it best when greeting a dog to let them approach you in their own time. At a photo session, I will let your dog approach me when he is ready.  Dogs need time to sniff and assess that this person is not a threat.   I generally leave the camera to the side, as that big black box often appears threatening to dogs. 

Do not keep direct eye contact

When greeting a dog, gently turn sideways as if your ignoring the dog and do not stare directly at the dog as this can be taken as aggression.  

Do not reach over his head

If the dog approaches and appears willing to sniff your hand, you may offer a soft gently scratch of the chest or neck, but never reach the hand over the top of his head.  This can be threatening to the dog.  


I may occasionally use treats after a dog has gotten comfortable with me, but is still not trusting the camera.  I will first lay the camera where the dog can sniff it and step away.  if the dog does not appear willing to come to the camera on his own to sniff it, I may then toss a few treats in the direction of the camera.  

Once he appears accepting of the camera, I will try clicking the shutter a couple times(without pointing the camera at him) to determine his comfort level.  Then we will adjust our shooting to his comfort level.  one dog may be comfortable with me using a lens pointed 3 feet in front of his face, while another is only comfortable when I am 10 feet away.  I have different lenses that can be used, to adjust for the animal.  

It’s an International circle!

Join the fun! This group of International Professional Pet Photographers bring you information on our weekly topics. While we focus on one broad subject, we may each have a different spin on it or provide you with additional information from our world of pet photography. Follow the next link to view how the next amazing photographer tackles this weeks challenge.  Follow each link at the end of each blog until you return to me. Then you have successfully completed our blog circle. Enjoy!

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Toronto dog photographer Terri Jankelow from Terri J Photography talks about how she greets new dogs when they come for their photo sessions.

Come and find your Best Friend!

Second Chance has a unique program near Syracuse N.Y. where inmates train the rescued dogs. This program gives both the dogs and the inmates a second chance in life.  Appointments currently required related to Covid-19 protocols.

tan and white dog

Meet POP.

Pop is a young, playful energetic pup who would love to have a dog around his size to play with. He loves toys and to run around a fenced in yard! He is about 1 year old.

Please contact Friends of Second Chance.

Friends of Second Chance Canine Adoption Shelter
6660 E. Seneca Turnpike
Jamesville, NY 13078

Capture your journey with your pet. Nancy Kieffer is a pet and nature photographer serving  Central New York, the Adirondacks and Beyond.  Capture how you share your life with your pet! It may be a vacation adventure or curled up on the couch. Travel assignments welcomed.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Darlene

    Great tips! I’m in love with Pop! What a sweetheart!

  2. Elaine

    Nancy, we have six dogs, and when they actually let someone in the house, our instructions to them before entering are ALWAYS the things you mention here. Pretty soon our dogs will be seeking their attention. Our dogs would clearly welcome you.

  3. Nicole

    So much good stuff here! I love that you toss treats away from you and in the direction of the camera!

  4. Tracy Allard

    It’s great that your experience and training helped diffuse the scary situation for the dog so quickly and those are great tips (great minds think alike ;o). Pop is adorable, I love how you highlight a pet at the bottom of every post, helping raise their profile in order to get adopted. Stay safe and warm this weekend, hope you’re stocked up on supplies!

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