It’s one of the big questions I get asked when I talk about photographing dogs – why wont my dog look at the camera? It might sound silly to say, but your dog has no concept of what you are asking them to do, so just holding something in front of them (ie your phone) might make them a little anxious!
Tips for helping your dog enjoy looking at the camera
If your dog refuses to look at the camera, try using it as a training exercise to build up their confidence. Try scattering treats round your camera so your dog associates it with something positive. Progress to bringing your camera up to your dogs eye level and then treating or giving praise. You could even add a cute command word like ‘Say Cheese’ whenever your dog looks at the camera.
The thing which consistently works for me is noises and phrases. Making a noise your dog doesn’t associate with you usually get’s their attention. This can be a high pitched brrrrr, pa pa pa or even an animal noise like a duck or a cats meow. Do you feel a bit silly? Yes. Should you care? No. You are having fun taking brilliant photo’s of your dog! The other thing which works is if your dog has a trigger phrase, for a lot of dogs it’s something like ‘do you want to go for a walk’ or ‘where’s the ball’. If you are super lucky, with either one of these you will get that cute head tilt!
Another thing which has a high success rate….a crisp packet! Yup, if you can crinkle a crisp packet while holding your camera, you might just get their attention. It’s a bit noisier than a regular treat packet which is why I think it works well.
The only time this doesn’t get the desired results is usually with working dogs, or dogs who are really focused on their owners. In that position, getting someone they know to stand behind you and say their name tends to work.
If all else fails….
If all else fails – I’d pull out the super surpriser – a duck or animal caller. These are pretty cheap to pick up and very rarely fail. The noises they make are just not a regular occurrence for most dogs so the genuine surprise usually makes great photos!
If you want more help taking better photographs of your dog, check out my Furdography for Beginners E-book – it helps you understand how to take better photos of your dog and make it enjoyable for you both. You can find out more, or sign up for my free PDF here > Furdography for Beginners
Or if you’d like to book a photoshoot for your dog, I’m based in the Lake District but am frequently also found in Sussex, Oxfordshire and Cornwall so drop me an email!