12 Tips to get the best Santa pic with your pet

Pets are part of the family

According to research published by Animal Medicine Australia (2019), there are 29 million pets in Australia and 60% of pet owners surveyed refer to their pets as a member of the family. It’s no surprise that professional pet photography now available in many shopping centres during Christmas is fast becoming a very popular tradition. If your pet adapts comfortably to change, is calm in a new environment, and is friendly around other pets and people, consider a professional picture with Santa.

It’s the Christmas Season again at a shopping centre near you. A kaleidoscope of reds and greens surrounds you and Mariah Carey is back on the playlist declaring that “All [she wants] for Christmas is you” (which is of course doubtful).

Now put yourself in your pet’s paws.

Loud noise (sorry Mariah) and an unusual setting with lots of human strangers dressed in outrageously bright colours. Flashing lights on trees that they are not permitted to sniff or spray calling cards on.


Slightly overwhelming.

Good news! It doesn’t have to be overwhelming for either your pet or yourself. Read on for our tips to get the best possible Santa photo with your dog or any other your unusual family member.

Tip #1: Prepare your pet before the photoshoot

The key to any successful photoshoot is being prepared. It alleviates much of the stress associated with new surroundings and unusual circumstances.

Tip #2: Groom your pet

Dogs, like humans, have teeth that can be obvious in pictures. Give them a good clean before the photoshoot and show off those pearly whites. If you plan to get your pet professionally groomed, do it a week in advance so any adjustments can be done during the week.

Tip #3: Trial run with the outfit

If you have a costume in mind (bow tie, hat, antlers, etc.), have your pet wear it a few times in the weeks before the photoshoot. This way you can see if it fits and if the pet is comfortable with it. Remember your pet will be handled and restrained by strangers that are trying to keep your pet still. If the outfit is uncomfortable, your pet is sure to act up.

Tip #4: Make a list of what you’ll need at the photoshoot

You likely know the items in your arsenal that are proven to calm your pet. Now is the time to use them all.

Tip #5: Items to keep your pet groomed

Bring a brush to keep your pet looking gorgeous. If she/he enjoys being brushed, this will calm her/him at the same time. Don’t forget the wipes and a few plastic bags (if you get our drift).

Tip #6: Don’t feed or give your pet a large drink

The last thing you need is a pet desperate for a toilet! Also, put not feeding before a shoot you can bring small treats that will instantly grab your pets attention.

Tip #7: Items to keep your pet busy

Bring their favourite toy (preferably not those of a squeaky nature, otherwise it’ll be a massive squeakageddon with every other pet wanting in on the action).

Bring enough treats. This may positively reinforce the photoshoot for future years (a bit of Pavlovian conditioning can’t harm).

Tip #8: Items to keep your pet safe

Make sure your pet’s shots are up to date. We also recommend that young puppies or kittens wait another year before posing with Santa. Since there are many pets around, you want to prevent the little ones from contracting anything nasty. Keep your pets on their leash and for smaller pets, bring them in their carriers.

Tip #9: Manage your expectations!

Bottom line you need to manage your expectations. Your pet may not want to sit still on the lap of a hairy-faced stranger wearing a bright red suit. Manage your expectations and embrace imperfection.

These days many pet owners choose to have their pets professionally photographed, especially during Christmas.

The key is to prepare ahead of time, pre-book and monitor your pet’s body language. He/she will let you know how comfortable they are with their surroundings.

Plan a family picture with your pet. These are wonderfully hilarious and sweet keepsakes that can mark the stages in your family’s history and be cherished for years to come.

See where your closest location is this year for your Pet’s Santa Picture.

Tip #10: How to get your pet to pose

For weeks in advance practice “Sit” and “Stay” commands in numerous surroundings with varying degrees of noise and activity. Use treats to reinforce the commands. Most pets will feed off of your energy and the more relaxed you are, the calmer they will be. Smile and speak to them calmly.

Tip #11: Speak with the photographer and Santa

Communicate clearly with the photographer and Santa on what calms your pet. Explain what will put your pet at ease like scratching behind the ear. Use treats to reward good behaviour (or bribe) with his/her favourite snacks. Ask the photographer if you can stand behind the camera to capture your pet’s attention.

Tip #12: Join in for a group shot

If your pet remains uneasy, get in the picture. Or better yet, get the entire family involved. Pets are part of the family (and may well be your favourite).

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