How to prepare your dog for a studio portrait session

I’m Heidi Grace, your top-rated professional pet photographer in Calgary, and today I’m thrilled to share some tips for preparing your furry friend for an unforgettable in-studio pet photography session. From capturing the cutest expressions to highlighting your puppy’s unique personality, follow along for a relaxing and fun portrait session with Heidi Grace Photography!

Setting the Stage for Success

When preparing your dog for a studio session, we’ll start by creating a comfortable and familiar environment. Bring along your pup’s favourite blanket or toy to the studio to provide a sense of security. If the blanket or toy is sentimental to your dog – we may incorporate it into a few of the photos! Pack a baggie of your dog’s favourite treats (highest value treats reserved for the most special occasions) in small non-crumbly pieces that we can dole out as needed to reward them for their participation. Remember, a relaxed and happy puppy makes for great expressions during the photo session. If your dog is low to medium energy, I recommend scheduling the session during their most active and alert hours, ensuring they are ready to shine in front of the camera. However, if you have a high-energy pup then it’s a great idea to take them for a walk to tire them out a bit before the session.

photo of a white dog on a white background standing beside his favourite toy and smiling.
This is Chico, a 13-year-old sweetheart who came in for a studio legacy session and brought his favourite stuffy with him – a pineapple!

To further ease your dog into the studio experience, we will introduce them to the space before we begin the session. We’ll let them sniff around, explore, and get accustomed to the environment. We’ll keep the initial interactions positive by offering treats, praise and playtime, reinforcing the studio as a safe and enjoyable place. With these steps, your dog will be ready to showcase their adorable self during the session.

Grooming Day

A well-groomed puppy is a photogenic puppy! A basic groom (bath and brush) the day before the studio session helps to ensure your furry friend looks their absolute best. Give them a gentle bath, brush out any tangles, remove any hair that blocks their eyes and trim their nails for a polished appearance. Remember, simple grooming goes a long way in enhancing your pup’s photos. A clean and well-maintained coat and nails will make your pup pop in every picture (say that ten times fast! Haha!).

Collage of 5 photographs of a dachshund puppy photographed on a white studio background by Calgary pet photographer Heidi Grace
Meet Tuxedo, a 3-month-old dachshund who started off the session being shy but finished as Mr. Personality! 💗

Playtime Preparations

One way to capture authentic moments during your puppy’s studio session is to let their playful side shine! Bring along your pup’s favourite toys and treats to help create a fun and engaging atmosphere that will translate beautifully into the final portraits. Throughout the session, we’ll make sure to have rest and play breaks so your dog doesn’t need to be “on” the entire time. These intervals provide much-needed opportunities for your puppy to release energy, resulting in a more relaxed and cooperative pet. Remember, a happy pup equals heartwarming photos that you’ll cherish forever.

Practice Basic Commands

If you enjoy training your dog to sit, stay, lie down or shake a paw, you may want to practice some basic commands with your furry friend beforehand. Knowing commands, like sit, stay, and lie down, can help capture poses that highlight your puppy’s best angles. But when you work with me – training is not a requirement! I photograph plenty of dogs who don’t have any training and that doesn’t stop me from creating portraits with personality!

Depending on your dog’s dietary restrictions or allergies, we’ll use treats and positive reinforcement to boost good behaviour, creating a happy and responsive pup. This will make the session more enjoyable for everyone and open up creative possibilities for unique photographs.

Gizmo is a 15-year-old Shih Pom who did not stay still for more than a second during our session – but you wouldn’t know it from looking at his adorable portrait collection! This is one of the benefits of hiring an experienced professional pet photographer.

Familiar Faces and Scents

Whether it’s a family member or a favourite toy, these comforting elements will help your dog feel secure in a new setting. As a professional pet photographer, I encourage clients to participate in the session by standing close to their pup during the session, petting and praising them between photos and offering plenty of snuggles during breaks. I enjoy creating a relaxed and enjoyable experience for both you and your furry companion. Feeling at ease during our session contributes to the authentic and heartwarming expressions captured during the session.


There you have it – a comprehensive guide to preparing your dog – from puppy to senior – for a sensational in-studio photo session with me right here in Calgary! Follow these tips, and your furry friend will be ready to steal the spotlight in my pet portrait studio. Remember, capturing your pup’s personality is what I do best, and I can’t wait to create a stunning masterpiece for you and your beloved companion. Book your call today and let’s make magic happen!

Pawsitive Vibes, 🐾

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Heidi Grace Pet Portraiture Logo

Heidi Grace

Fine Art Pet Photographer

Pet Portraits with Personality

Heidi Grace is a nationally accredited and award-winning professional photographer serving Calgary, Alberta.

She’s dedicated to preserving the bond between pets and their parents with her colourful style of story-telling imagery.

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