I bet a local vet or pet store near you is doing photos with Santa right about now. These are fun images of your pet to have that totally enhance the holiday mood. There are a few things to keep in mind to really get the best possible photos of your furry family members:

Get Them Tired

Most dogs get wound up going for a ride to somewhere new, and especially so if there are a bunch of new friends to make. To combat this, I highly recommend taking your dog for a long walk or having a good play session before you go get your photos done. A tired dog is a cooperative dog. They’ll be more likely to sit still and be more focused.

Get them Groomed

A photo-op is the perfect excuse to get your dog groomed and looking their best! Bust out the ugly Christmas sweaters and candy cane-themed collars. If your dog doesn’t mind being in costume, this can be fun, but if will distract them too much, I’d pass.

Bring Along Your Dog’s Favorite Things

Your secret weapon for these photos can be your dog’s favorite toy or treat. Bring along whatever will get your dogs attention. When it’s your turn for photos, bust it out and watch your dog perk right up! And if you exercised your dog before going, you shouldn’t have to worry about your dog getting too excited.

If You’re Not Going to be in the Photos, Get Right Behind the Photographer

To make sure your pup looks like they’re looking right at the camera, stand directly behind the photographer and try to get their attention. If the photographer has squatted down, do the same. You want your face (or toy or treat if that will get their attention better) to be at the same level as the camera.

If You Are Going to be in the Photos, Just Keep Smiling at the Camera

When you’re in the photos with your pup, just keep looking at the camera and smiling. The photographer will get your dogs attention. It never fails, the dog will look at the camera and give the perfect head tilt, but their owner is looking at them or pointing to the camera. So, it’s best to just keep your pose and let the photographer worry about capturing that moment.

Treat Your Pup (And Maybe Yourself)

After you’re all done with photos, let your pup have a treat or possibly a new toy as a reward. And depending on how the photo shoot went, you might want to stop and grab a coffee or something too! My personal favorites are the “Puppaccino” and the “Oprah Chai Tea Latte” at Starbucks.

Most importantly, have fun with it! Even if the photos are not “picture perfect,” they will be fond memories that you’ll have to treasure forever. There are many ways you can proudly use and display your photo once you get it back. Some of my personal favorites include: in a festive frame, as a greeting card, or as a tree ornament.

Just make sure you check what you’re getting wherever you go. Some places might only provide prints and it’s not okay to scan those for other purposes without permission. When in doubt, just ask beforehand.

I hope this was helpful! Have a fantastic holiday season, everyone!