Why does your dog look away from the camera when you try to take a photo 🙈📸

Photo of my dog tied to a tree with out fav leash

Notice how just as you go to capture a captivating image of your canine companion (I love alliteration )they

  • Look away
  • Give derp face
  • Suddenly have an itch
  • Tongue out w squinty eyes

How annoying is THAT! Next time that happens THANK your dog for giving you polite communication signals.  When we stick a camera, or a cell phone in front of fido’s face they feel fear or discomfort as to them it looks like a giant dilated pupil. Dogs constantly read each others and our eyes to see what is going on. So when we hold it up and then …GASP… put it in front of our own faces. This is uncomfortable and they are not able to read it’s ‘intention’.

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How cute is Elsa Mae above?! She makes my heart hurt.  Anyhow…those last second look aways or irresistable itches are actually very clear communication signals that they are uncomfortable and stressed. So what can you do? How have I photographed literally HUNDREDS of strange dogs and not had image after image filled with stress signals? What if I told you it is easy to condition your canine to crave camera attention? In fact, for those of you that follow the naughty sock bandit misadventures of @elvis_the_pomsky may know he is trained to give an adorable head tilt when I hold up my camera and say “say cheese.  By the way don’t ever say cheese for photos or ask others to. I will tackle that in a future post. Stay on topic Sandy! What? Squirrel?

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In order to respect them and create the canine connection we crave (I know..groan) you must create a reason for them to overcome that instinct.

Those that have taken my workshops or had a session with me know I call it PAYING YOUR MODEL. I begin every single session by holding up my camera and a high reward treat (my go to is always Ziwipeak) and the very second they look towards my camera I mark it by saying “yes” and then I pay them! You have to have the timing perfect so they catch on quickly.  Secondly, do NOT over do it.  I am maybe 3 frames or shots and I back off the camera, pay my model and let them have a break. VOILA!

I would love to hear about your fur babies and see your snaps! If you have any questions or want to just say hi please comment below.  Have a happy day and make a stranger smile today.  You never know who really needed it.

Sandy and the pack

6 Comments

  1. Wow, what a fantastic post! I have read tons and tons of literature on canine behavior and have never come across anything outlining (as nicely as you did) why our furry friends have a tendency to look away as soon as go to snap that picture! Much like you, I’ve found that a power treat at just the right moment almost always does the trick! Thanks for your insight! 🙂
    -Tiana

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    1. Tiana thank you so much for the feedback! I really appreciate it. When I teach my Photgraphing Fido workshops I spend 20 minutes at the start explaining this. I try showing this and make a 3 shots and back off rule. Models gots to get PAID haha. @elvis_the_pomsky and Elsa Mae, 2 of my dogs, are so conditioned to the camera that as soon as I pull out Ziwipeak they will look at the camera and go where ever I point. Elvis has learned that when I say “say cheese he gives me a perfect head tilt. I still ALWAYS pay them and limit to 3 frames and then go to something fun. Cheers from me, Elvis, Elsa, Dudley, Spencer, Radish and the Fids

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is fantastic! A Photographing Fido workshop!? HOW INTERESTING!! I really like your approach of 3 shots and back off. I know I am personally guilty of snapping as many as I can at once (followed by a yummy reward) to try to get that perfect shot, but I need to be more mindful about the stress that this can create for my own (rather anxious) pup! You are certainly doing something right because your photos are fantastic!

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      2. You know, it’s interesting. This week as I was snapping pictures of my dog, I could not help but think…1, 2, 3 photos, then treat, then break! With having an anxiety-prone pup, I am up for anything that helps keep the feelings of stress to a minimum. I’m already seeing a subtle (positive) difference in how she responds to the camera! Thank you so much! 🙂

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