How Can I Groom My Dog Before A Photoshoot?

Any avid dog owner will tell you that dogs aren’t just pets; they’re family. Capturing their lives through pictures and custom portraits is a wonderful way to create memories that last a lifetime. When it comes to grooming, there’s no right or wrong answer. How you choose to present your pup in a picture or portrait is entirely up to you. If you’d prefer your dog to be their natural adorable self, then by all means, shoot them as they are! On the other hand, if you’d like them to scrub up for the occasion, a little grooming can go a long way to making them look their best for a photo shoot.

This blog will outline the basics of grooming your dog for a photo shoot. Whether you're taking professional portraits or candid snaps or need the perfect photo for a painting or illustration, you’ll find the best dog grooming tips here. 

Consider approaching a professional

If you’re not experienced at grooming your pet, consider approaching a professional dog groomer. Groomers offer beneficial expertise, such as ensuring your dog doesn’t experience injury when grooming - something those with particularly energetic pets can relate to! Other benefits of approaching a professional include:

  • They take the hassle out of nail trimming.
  • They use grooming supplies best suited to your dog.
  • Professionals can detect if your pet has parasites, such as fleas or ticks.
  • They can sport early warning signs of illness.

Professional groomers also have the skill to provide your pup with a professional haircut, ensuring they are camera ready and deliver a picture-perfect portrait.

dog wash before grooming

Brush and wash your dog

As mentioned above, grooming is important for your dog’s health and bathing your pup will help to remove tangles and matting from fur. It’s also important to remember that how frequently you bath your dog will depend on them individually. Overbathing can dry out their hair and skin, leading to health issues and stripping their coat of its natural sheen. A coat that’s lacking its lustre can affect the quality of your photos. When bathing a dog for a photo shoot: 

  • Do it around two days before the pictures are taken. This will ensure their coat has settled and they’re portrait-ready. 
  • If your dog has any tangles in their coat, consider brushing and carefully trimming off any knots. 
  • Next, by starting at the neck and working along to the tail, wet your dog’s fur down to the skin. It’s best to avoid wetting the head as this is a sensitive area for dogs, so make sure not to let water get into their ears, eyes, nose and mouth. Rather, gently clean the general head area with a damp cloth. 
  • Following this, bath your dog with a gentle, pet-friendly hypoallergenic shampoo to remove dirt. Once rinsed, you may also consider applying a doggy conditioner to help detangle and soften fur for that extra glamorous gleam. 

Once you’re finished washing your pup, towel dry until the coat is glossy and glistening. Now they’re ready for the star treatment! Reward their good behaviour with a tasty treat. 

Pro tip: By providing rewards such as food and toys before and after bathing, your dog will learn to associate bath time with being fun. This will be beneficial for both of you in the long run! 

trim claws for pet portraiture

Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Trimming your dog's nails is an essential part of grooming for both that picture-perfect photo and their health. Long nails can curve and dig into your dog’s skin, as well as make walking difficult. Trimming nails correctly will ensure your dog is happy, healthy and injury-free and ready for photos. It also helps protect the flooring if you’re going to a studio.

As with bathing, providing praise and treats will help your dog associate nail trimming with a positive experience. Remember to take your time and not rush the process and ensure you follow advice from your groomer or veterinarian.

Additionally, consider cleaning your dog's ears and teeth before the photo shoot. Dirty ears and teeth can be noticeable in photos and lead to severe health issues. Again, consult your veterinarian for ear and teeth cleaning advice and be sure you know what you’re doing before taking action. With trimmed nails, and clean ears and teeth, your dog will be picture-perfect and ready to shine in their photos. This will also improve the quality of the illustrations if you turn the picture into a portrait. 

dog grooming for portraiture

Keep Their Breed In Mind When Grooming

Different dog breeds have specific grooming needs, and you should ask a dog groomer or veterinarian for pet-specific advice. For example, a poodle’s hair tends to grow very fast and requires maintenance around every 4 - 6 weeks, and Shih Tzus requires frequent brushing. Short-haired dogs, such as beagles, may not require as extensive grooming; however, they still do shed and will require some. Therefore, researching your dog's breed-specific grooming needs or consulting with a professional groomer can ensure your dog looks their best in their photos.

To Summarise

Grooming your dog before a photo shoot is an excellent way to capture beautiful and memorable photos, however it’s up to you whether or not you do it. If you wish to have your dog groomed before taking pictures, consider approaching a professional. Veterinarians and professional groomers can provide pet-specific advice and put you on the right path to having your dog camera ready. When grooming for a picture or portrait, consider brushing, bathing, and trimming their nails. Aside from helping to produce a picture-perfect illustration, these steps will also help keep your dog happy and healthy!

If you’re considering having a portrait drawn of your pet and want to know how it works, contact Poster and Paw or consult our FAQs.

watercolour pet portrait

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