Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Getting your dog ready for holiday photos

This year I'm determined to get Christmas cards out in December.  I've completely failed to do them at all the past two years, and my friends must think I don't care about them.  I do care about them!  I just wasn't organized.

So it's October and I am determined to get it all organized, photographed, and written this month.  (I know, I'd better hurry up).  So I thought I'd share some tips with you about including your dog in the holiday photo.

  1. Do include your dog, but don't exclude yourself.  Your friends and family want to see you in the photo.
  2. Figure out what you want the photo to look like.  And realize that you probably need to do some training sessions to prep your dog for photo session.
    1. If at all possible, enlist the help of a friend to be the photographer.
    2. If there are props involved, introduce them well in advance to your dog by bringing them out, and then clicking and treating (for no reason, just for the presence of the props).  After a few C/Ts, but the prop away and the party stops for 3 minutes.  Now bring the prop out and the party starts up again.  This is called "classical conditioning" and it creates a happy response in the dog when the prop is presented.
    3. Think through the new behaviors you'll have to train for the photo...."Take" and "hold" behaviors are required for a dog who's expected to hold the handles of a gift bag in the photo.  A dog who is expected to have a Christmas wreath around his neck must learn how to voluntarily put his head through the opening, and sit and stay with the prop on.  Create a training plan for any behaviors you need, and start training a few weeks before the photo session. 
  3. Ideas for photos:
    1. Your dog is on a table and holds a champagne glass in his mouth, looking at the camera, and you hold a glass, standing behind him.  The champagne bottle is on the table next to the dog.  You raise glass in toast 
    2. You stuff some Santa legs up your chimney, like Santa is coming out, and you and the dog stand at the fireplace looking up at the legs like you're wondering how to help. Or better yet, get your dog to pull/attack the legs while
    3. Your dog is on a table, and you're posed behind him (on the table, or behind it)... he's in a big wrapped box that's disheveled, like it's been popped open. He's in the midst of a bunch of tissue paper.  He's posing with his feet on the edge of the box (like he's sitting up, resting paws on the edge of box)
    4. Dog is on table, in front of a plate of cookies that say "For Santa".... he is obediently "leaving it" but looking at the cookies with great interest.  You're reaching for a cookie, with your other hand at your lip in the "shhhh" position...  

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