Taking your dog for photos with Santa is an awesome holiday experience. The pictures have a great awww factor and they make a perfect addition to Christmas cards, social media sites and anywhere else you like to show off just how cute your dog is. As much fun as Santa photos are they can also be a stressful experience for your dog if you don’t prepare properly. Here are some tips to help make your visit to Santa as pleasant as possible for both you AND your dog.
Our events page includes Santa photo sessions from across British Columbia. Search for listings in your area to find the right event for you.
Find the Right Santa for your Photo
These days Santa comes in a variety of looks. For example, my family once to our family pet for a Santa photo only to find that the Santa was approximately 16 years old. It was still fun to have the pictures taken but they didn’t have the authentic feel that we were hoping for. To avoid disappointment in the look of your pictures it’s worth checking out some past pics from the venue you are considering attending.
Another consideration when finding the right Santa is their comfort level with dogs. It goes without saying that anyone volunteering for a Santa photo shoot with dogs MUST love dogs, but surprisingly some of them are more comfortable than others. Many venues use the same Santa every year so having a look through previous pictures can give you an idea of how comfortable Santa is being surrounded by dogs.
Choose Your Santa Photo Venue Carefully
Santa photo days are very popular and since many locations only offer one or two days for photo shoots they can be very crowded. This can be very stressful for a dog, particularly one that may have anxiety or be leash aggressive. The three locations that I have taken Avy for Santa photos have all been pet supply stores which means there is an abundance of food and treats around. This triggers some dogs defensive instincts and there have occasionally been scuffles (luckily nothing too serious).
If you are concerned about how your dog may behave in a crowded space then try and pick a venue that is larger where you can wait quietly for your turn, or one that has an outdoor space where you can wait until it’s your turn to see Santa.
Another consideration with the venue is whether they have a separate space where the photos are being taken. One of Avy’s first experiences with Santa photos had a set up where Santa was sitting right in the middle of the store, with a line up of dogs waiting their turn right in front of him. Needless to say it was hard to get Avy to look at the camera with so many distractions all around her! Since that experience we have gone to venues that have a separate area where the photos are done. That gives each dog the opportunity to get a really great picture without the distraction of other dogs and people all around them.
Try Out Photo Props in Advance
Props can be a great addition to your Santa photos. Cute antlers, a Santa hat or a festive bandana or collar all come to mind. Just keep in mind that your dog might not find the prop as much fun as you do. If your dog is not used to dressing up consider trying out potential props at home – with lots of treats as a reward. That way they’ll be ready to proudly sport their prop in the photo shoot.
Have Fun With Your Photo Shoot!
Most importantly – Santa photos are fun, so make sure that you have fun with it! Do consider adding a fun prop, including the whole family in the photo, or even taking pictures with your dog’s doggie friends. Avy has had several photos with her friends and the results have been amazing! Just be prepared for a less than perfect final product – as you can see from Avy’s photo with friends it’s difficult to get several dogs to all look the same direction at the same time. But with the right Santa and photographer the results can be even more amazing. This crazy photo is by far my favourite Santa picture of all.
Related: If you are looking for somewhere to take your dog for a photo with Santa we have listings from across British Columbia. Check out our events page.