Winter Photoshoot Fun

By Nichole Myers-Youngquist, CPDT-KA, WHS Behavior & Training Instructor

Joshua, adopted this month, looks dapper in his red collar. 

Each December, WHS staff and volunteers come together to celebrate our accomplishments and enjoy one another’s company. Due to COVID-19, we can’t have a big party, and that hurts.

So instead, we got creative! This month’s blog celebrates WHS staff and volunteers and the great work they do by showcasing shelter dogs in a winter-themed photoshoot.

Sting, adopted this month, poses perfectly for his glamor shot.

Special thanks to Jessi Henry, CPDT-KA, for the amazing photos and volunteer Marianne Fox for dog wrangling. We shared plenty of laughs together, and we think the dogs had fun too!

Daisy the chihuahua mix kisses volunteer Marianne. No mask can stop her!

Training Tips for Photographing Pets

The Setup 

Jessi is not a professional photographer, but she’s taken photography classes. We used a backdrop I purchased on*. You can also hang a holiday sheet or table cloth in the background. We added some glitter and red beach balls to pump up the atmosphere and make it fun for dogs, too. 

Danika, a 5-year-old Shepherd mix, is wishing for a new home this holiday season.

Use common sense.

  • Make sure the area is pet-friendly. Remove anything you don’t want jumped on, scratched, chewed, swallowed, or destroyed. Remove anything that could injure or make your pet sick if ingested.
  • Set up containment. Exercise pens allow easy access for you and the pet into the photoshoot area. Make the space big enough so your pet won’t feel trapped but will stay in the area.
Daisy, adopted earlier this month, poses in a festive knitted sweater.

It’s all about choice.

Dogs: Your dog should already have the basics in their training repertoire. Practice cuing “sits,” “downs,” and tricks before taking photos. Or allow your dog to do their own thing and capture the fun.

Cats: Allow choice. Cats tend to prefer to choose their own poses. If you have photography skills, candid photos can be just as festive as formal ones. 

Here are some other helpful tips for making positive choices during the experience: 

  • Use a positive interrupter. A kissy noise, squeaky sound, or click of your tongue can get your pet to look away from distractions and toward the camera. Once you’ve got the shot, reward your pet.
  • No force. No fear. If your pet is showing any signs of stress, assess the environment and remove any stressors. If your pet continues to be stressed, a photoshoot may not be the activity for your pet. Pair any costume changes with treats.
  • Rewards. Toss treats where you want your pet situated in the photo. Lure your pet into the position you want or in front of the camera. For cats or non-treat-motivated dogs, toys and praise can work, too.
  • Your choices affect your pets’ happiness. Stay calm. Laugh even if something breaks. During our photoshoot, only one ball popped due to an overly enthusiastic dog. (She did write an apology note.) 

Behavior and Training Program Updates!

Willamette Humane Society has suspended all in-person adult dog group classes for December and January due to COVID-19 restrictions. We are offering drop-off group puppy play time, in-person, off-site, and virtual private lessons for you and your dog. Our instructors use rewards-based teaching methods to help you build a strong, trust-filled bond with your dog.

To find out more about all of our courses and to enroll, visit our click here.

Daisy, a chihuahua mix adopted earlier this month, wins the “Most Photogenic” title.

Thank you for reading and, as always, practice patience.

*At you can choose Willamette Humane Society as your charity. Amazon will donate 0.5% of each of your purchases to us.