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JoAnna Lou
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Pet Photos with Santa
Many dogs are uncomfortable with the holiday picture frenzy

I don't have children, but I consider my dogs to be my furry kids in everything from choosing the best daycare to researching safe toys. When the holidays come around, they each have a stocking hanging over the fireplace and Christmas themed collars. And for years, I took my canine crew to the pet store to get their photo taken with Santa. The holiday ritual has become so popular that I noticed my local mall's Santa's workshop now has a weekly pet night!

Santa photos are great additions to family holiday cards, but for many dogs, getting their picture taken is not fun. Getting plopped into a stranger's lap can be stressful, especially when they're wearing a funky costume. Then mix in attempting to get the animals to stay still, trying to get them to look at the camera, flashing a bright light in their eyes, and dealing with the distraction of the other pets waiting their turn.  

It's important to know what your dog is comfortable with before bringing them to a Santa photo shoot. Ask yourself if your pup is okay with:

  • New environments
  • Strange people and dogs
  • People in costumes or other strange outfits
  • Flashing lights
  • Being handled and restrained by a stranger
And remember to manage your expectations. Asking your dog to maintain a stay or to turn their attention to the camera can be difficult, particularly in a hectic environment. Observe your pup's body language and leave if they're not comfortable. If you think your dog may not enjoy a visit to Santa's workshop, consider a photo session at a private studio instead of visiting a busy pet store or mall. In my case, I started taking my own holiday pictures at home.
 
Remember that Santa photos are supposed to be fun for both of you!

 

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by tedaytan/flickr.

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Submitted by Anonymous | December 12 2012 |

I was the photographer last year for a one day photo session of pets with Santa. The only reason it worked was that 'my' Santa was a total dog person (he arranged the session and recruited me). And we did a 'come pick up your photos' date, not a 'leave with your photos' session. I also emailed photos for people if they wanted them. That allowed me to fire off lots of shots and pick the best one(s). There were some nervous dogs, there were three dogs at a time, even! We got the shots, though! Having the time to look through them and crop as needed was the key. Of course, Santa had anal glads released on him by one dog, and he took it in stride. 'My' Santa was a very special one!

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