Wynston has been modeling for PetSmart for a little over a year and a half. His first opportunity to model for the big name pet company was in October 2014. That photo shoot paved the way for Wynston’s future modeling career, and I will tell you why. If you are interested in getting your dog into modeling, or you are headed to a professional photo shoot, here are some tips as to how you can prepare your dog (and yourself) for the big day.
Our First Photo Shoot Experience
In October 2014, Wynston got asked to be an alternate for a Martha Stewart Pets photo shoot for PetSmart. This meant that if they had extra outfits or needed some other type of body shape, Wynston would be available. We took this opportunity to really experience what it’s like to be a part of a professional dog photo shoot. The shoot lasted eight hours, and we were there for that entire eight hours. Spending the day at the studio was fantastic because Wyn quickly got used to the sights, sounds and smells. Turns out, they ended up using Wynston at the end of the day! He modeled five outfits, which took about an hour. The day was long and tiring, but it was an amazing experience to get us settled into the dog modeling world. By November, Wyn’s photos were up on the PetSmart website. I screamed when I saw them for the first time! (A BIG thanks to our friend Kama for easing us into the dog modeling world!)
How to Prepare Your Dog for a Photo Shoot
- Make sure your dog is good with people: I’ll admit it – Wynston is not a people dog. However, if I have cheese and meat, he doesn’t mind people. At every shoot, Wyn takes time to warm up but eventually he’s rockin’ the outfits. If your dog is terrified of people or doesn’t like to be touched, a professional photo shoot probably won’t work. You can train your dog for these types of situations by taking them out to public places (like Home Depot) and positively reinforcing brave behavior. There’s typically a stylist that adjusts the clothes on Wyn, and he doesn’t like when she sits behind him. We’ve worked on it and he’s become much better. Something to keep in mind – at all of our shoots, there have been around 15+ people. At least seven of them are directly focused on the current shoot. The lights are bright and the camera can be startling.
- Groom and bathe: The last thing you want to do is show up to a professional photo shoot with a smelly, unkempt dog. You always want to make a great first impression with a brand. I bathe Wynston the night before a shoot and trim his nails. Luckily Wyn doesn’t require any other grooming. If it were Khloee, however, I’d have to get her a fresh hair cut and style. Wyn had two photos shoots for PetSmart within a week last May 2015. Even though they were a few days apart, I still bathed him the night before each shoot.
- Prepare high-value treats: The only treats we use for photo shoots are the best ones – meat and cheese! I buy gourmet meat and cheese for this special occasion. Wynston is much more likely to pay attention if I have sausage than if I have kibble or treats we use on a regular basis. I cut up the meat into small pieces and put it in a Tupperware the night before. Then I put it in a cold lunchbox the next day so it stays fresh during our journey to the shoot.
- Don’t feed your dog a ton of breakfast: This may sound harsh, but if you feed your dog less breakfast, they will be more willing to listen during a photo shoot. After all, they want the treats you have! I don’t completely deprive Wynston of breakfast – I just give him less.
- Make sure they get lots of sleep: Dogs can be in good or bad moods, just like humans. Sometimes Wyn is really feeling the photo shoot. Other days, he’s like “Mom, take me home.” Make sure your dog gets a full nights rest so they are ready to go for your potentially long and stressful day.
- Have a kennel or stroller available: Make sure you bring a kennel or stroller to keep your dog in at the shoot. Some dogs don’t do well with others and at some point you may want to take a break. I just bring Wynston’s stroller and he sleeps in it at the shoot. It’s comfortable and smells like home, so it’s the perfect option.
How to Prepare Yourself for Your Dog’s Photo Shoot
- Realize you and your dog will be anxious: I was SO nervous at Wynston’s first photo shoot. I feared that he would be terrified and hard to work with. Quite the contrary – he did excellent. The more shoots we’ve done, the more comfortable we’ve both gotten. I try not to be nervous so I don’t transmit that energy to Wynston. Believe it or not, that method works well. It’s okay to be nervous, but try to be strong and excited for your dog’s sake.
- Get lots of sleep: Just like your dog, get a good night’s rest the night before. You’ll be energized and ready to go for the photo shoot!
- Eat breakfast: I don’t know about you but when I’m hungry, I can’t focus. Make sure you eat breakfast (or lunch, depending on the time of the shoot) so you aren’t focusing on your hunger instead of your dog. When I get hungry, I get irritated, which means Wynston will feel that. It’s best to have a full stomach. The better you feel, the better your shoot will most likely go.
- Dress professionally: Don’t show up to a photo shoot looking like a bum. I wear close-toed shoes, jeans and a nice shirt (which is typically dog related). I recommend bringing socks because if you work with a white backdrop, you won’t want to get foot prints on it. I wear jeans because they are most comfortable for me to work in. I do my make up and look presentable. First impressions are important.
Items to bring to the photo shoot:
- Waste bags
- High-value treats like meat and/or cheese
- Kennel or stroller
- Squeaky toys to get your dog’s attention during the shoot
- Water (for your and your dog)
- Leash, collar, harness
- A book or something to relax with in your down time
- A positive, energetic attitude!
Wynston was in the PetSmart Black Friday ad, he’s been in several emails and he’s currently on the website!
Doggy photo shoots are a blast, if you let them be. I know it can be a stressful experience, especially if you’re dog isn’t cooperating how you’d like. So far Wynston has done about five photo shoots, and we learn something from each one! If you prepare yourself and your dog for their photo shoot, you will rock it!
Has your dog ever been in a professional photo shoot for a pet company? Tell me about it!