Let's just cut to the chase: dogs are hams. Absolute hammy hams that literally want to kiss the camera they love it so much. Unconcerned with appearances, generally happy with life, and thrilled to be the center of attention -- there's every chance that dogs are the perfect models.

But even the most successful supermodels still need to prep before a shoot, and your dog is no different. Whether your pup is a newbie or a veteran in front of the lens, the following tips will help ensure that your upcoming shoot goes as smoothly as possible:

Set up a pre-meet.

After you’ve consulted with your photographer, set up a time to meet – and bring your baby! First-time meetings can be stressful or exciting, so getting the hellos out of the way in advance can pave the way for a shorter “OMG NEW PERSON” session at the beginning of your actual upcoming shoot. This meeting is actually built in to my booking process, because I want to be sure all my clients, furry and otherwise, are at ease.

Pro tip: Try to have your dog meet your photog in a similar setting to the scheduled shoot. Having a session in a park? At a studio? In your home? Looks like you’ve already got your pre-meet locations cut out for you.

 

Stay calm.

Your dog knows a bajillion commands. Seriously. Backwards and forwards, this furry baby knows how to sit, down, stay, and roll with the best of ‘em. Then, you meet up with your photographer for your portrait shoot, and Fido flips. Bouncing, mouthing, licking, flopping everywhere – and there’s no word in the English language that’ll make him behave.

Hyperventilating yet? RELAX.

Most people tend to get embarrassed when their baby acts up, but the more agitated you get, the more your fur-kid will act like a nut. If you can lower your blood pressure and keep a cool head in the moment, you’ll be able to redirect Rover’s ridiculousness, and set the shoot right back on track.

Pro tip: How can you redirect? Try pulling out a high-value treat or toy and using it to guide his attention back to the moment and a positive command, like “sit,” “touch,” or “watch me.” Not working? Go for a walk. Unless you've booked a very brief session, there's plenty of time for your AND your furkid to take a breath.

 

Be clear.

Know the commands your dog responds best to, and share those with your photographer. While the person behind the camera will likely be more than happy to leave the command-giving to you, the photographer knowing that Fido responds to “tilt!” might make the difference between a perfect head-tilt, and a stare off into space.

Pro tip: Staying calm helps here, too. That way, you’re not bombing your dog with a barrage of commands, and are instead giving him a crystal-clear image of what you want him to do.

 

Treats, treats, treats.

Some dogs will do whatever you want, just because they love you. The rest of our canine companions are highly motivated by love + [insert motivator here]. What’s your fur-kid’s favorite toy? Favorite treat? Favorite blanket or bed to curl up on?

If there’s something that makes your pup sit up and pay attention, don’t be shy – share with your photog! Your fur-kid will likely sit more comfortably on his own blankie, or look more alertly at his favorite treat – and these things will all result in pictures that better represent the companion you love.

Pro tip: That blankie or chew toy that makes your baby so happy? Make sure to share with your photographer ahead of time – that way, special shots that feature these items can be planned for in advance.