How to prepare your fur baby for their Pet Photography Studio Experience
It’s always an exciting moment when a client books in their Zoo Studio Pet Photography Experience. It’s always more than ‘just pretty pictures.’ It’s about what is unique and individual to you and your fur baby. I love the first step when I am talking with each person and discovering all the weird and wonderful, amazing and incredible stories about each fur baby that is about to come through our studio doors. It’s what helps make everything so uniquely about each of you.
There are many questions I get asked and one of the most common questions is how to prepare for your pet photography studio session with Zoo Studio. Well, I could give you a ‘common answer,’ but that would be very unlike Zoo Studio because nothing we do is ‘common!’ In fact, it is as unique as the paw prints on your fur babies paws! Everything is about you and your fur baby. You are all the centre of our attention!
Our Melbourne studio has plenty of car parking available at the back of the studio. When you drive through the double gates you will find an array of spaces that are safe for you and your fur baby. Once you enter the studio, it is securely locked during each session so it is safe for you and your fur baby.
So, here are our Top 5 Tips with the best way to prepare your fur baby for their pet photography studio session.
Remember, it’s all about you and your fur baby. You don’t have to have your fur baby groomed for their studio session if you don’t want to. It’s about how you want to capture the essence of their personality.
One of my most favourite studio session moments is with a gorgeous fur baby, Coco. Coco is a typical farm dog and she loves nothing more than to have a roll in the hay – literally! 😉 Her most favourite thing to do on the farm is to get stuck into the hay. And that’s one of the things her huMum and Dad love the most about her and what they wanted captured. Her happiness and excitement when she plays in the hay. It didn’t matter if she was neatly groomed because the essence of her personality is her long farm dog hair.Another favourite moment is having the pleasure of photographing this stunning Swiss Shepherd, Maximus, aka, Max. Max is pure white with the longest locks of fur that even Rapunzel would be jealous of. Max as known for his stunning crisp white long fur and those massive puppy dog paws. His huDad loves the way Max’s fur makes him look even more fluffy and it looks as soft as silk. That’s one of the things he wanted to connect with when looking at Max’s art work on display in his home.
The long and short is – if you want to connect with the long locks of fur or the scruffy farm dog fur, then that is your answer as to whether you want to groom or not groom your fur baby.
If you decide you want to have them groomed before their studio session, we suggest you do this at least 2 or 3 days prior to their session. It’s like a day at the spa for our fur kids. It can tire them out and we want them to be as alert as they can be for their session. Having them groomed 2 or 3 days prior to their session allows them the time to rest and recover and be happy and bright for their session.
It’s like Christmas for your fur kids when they come for their studio session. There can be food, there can be toys, a mix of both as well as whole lot of new smells in the studio. We clean and disinfect our Melbourne and Brisbane studio before and after each studio session, but our fur kids sense of smell is so high they will want to sniff everything in and around the studio. It’s not unusual for a fur baby to sniff out where the doggy treats are kept in the studio! I have had a cat sniff out the cat treats and open the cat treat draw to get them out 😉 It’s a given for most dogs, especially those that are highly food motivated. If you have a morning studio session, we suggest when feeding your dog or cat breakfast (though cats are less likely to eat when out in a new place than dogs), we suggest feeding them a little less for their breakfast. It’s a bit like leaving room for dessert when going to a restaurant – if you have an entrée and then a main meal, it doesn’t leave much room for dessert. So, is the same for treats in the studio session. By giving them a little less for breakfast, it allows them to be intrigued by the smells of the treats.
If you have an afternoon session, breakfast is fine as normal, but you can always give them a little less for dinner to compensate for the treats given during their session.
All our treats are all natural and we always ask about any allergies so we are aware. You are also more than welcome to bring your own treats, especially if there is a high reward treat your fur baby only gets when doing something of high value. Which leads to my next tip – treats!
As I always say, ‘treats work a treat,’ when trying to guide your fur babies around the studio. Mind you, this only works the best IF your fur baby is motivated by food. For now, we will refer to them as being food motivated – not food motivated is next!
All the treats we use in the studio are all natural. We break them up and give them small amounts when we are guiding them around the studio. We also get your involved because after all, this is about your and your fur baby and it’s your time together.
Quite often we use chicken and liver treats. Occasionally, we have duck and/or kangaroo, though we tend to keep duck for fur babies that we know love duck as it is high in fat and not all dogs enjoy it. You are more than welcome to bring your own treats. We often suggest that if your dog, cat or bird has an absolute favourite food/treat that they will completely love, then by all means bring that with you. Blaze loves cheese. He hardly gets cheese so when he does, that is highest reward treat. He will pretty much run rings for cheese, so I always make sure I have cheese cut into cubes as his treat reward when in the studio. One of my favourite feathered family clients, Duckie and Crackers, two adorable Sun Conures favourite treats is nuts. They love their nuts, so their huMum and Dad made sure to remember to bring nuts with them. We will always talk with your about treats and food for your fur or feathered baby in the studio.
Though treats work a treat for those fur kids that love food and are motivated by food, it does not have the same effect for ones that, well, aren’t so interested in filling their bellies with food! Along come toys! I know what it’s like to have one fur baby that is totally obsessed with food and the other that will look at me with a treat and say, ‘Yeah, what do you want me to do with that?’ 😉 Maya was not one bit interested in treats or food when in the studio. Toys were her go to! Especially, if it was a squeak ball. Because hey, ball is life, right?! For Maya it was!
We have plenty of toys in the studio, especially in our Melbourne studio, there is a large toy box full of dog and cat toys and we even have bird toys too. It’s a treasure trove of abundance for a fur baby that loves and enjoys playing with toys. In Brisbane, we also have an array of dog and cat toys and we make sure to always have bird toys too.
It always amazes me how some dogs absolutely love the cat toys and are more attracted to the cat toys and some cats love the bird toys. Cats are absolutely amazing to photograph however, they are not always food or toy motivated. With cats, we wait for those moments where they allow us to mesmerise them, even if for one millisecond – we always capture those moments though.
Because your session is unique to you and your fur baby, we always suggest that if they have favourite toys, favourite bed, favourite blanket, favourite game, anything that you love when they use it, anything they love – bring it with you. We would rather you bring a box full and not use all of them, then not bring them and wish you had. We will help you bring everything in, so we encourage you to watch them at home and soak in all those toys, beds, blankets, accessories you love them playing with and they love playing with, write a list and bring them with you. You’ll be glad you did.
If your fur baby is slightly nervous in new areas or with new people, that’s perfectly fine with us. We understand animal behavior and we will never make a fur baby do something they don’t want to. We help guide them, and we love getting you involved because for as much as we understand animal behavior and for as much as we guide them, no one knows your fur baby better than you.
There are no other fur kids around when you have your studio session, it’s just you and your fur baby and anyone in your family you want to experience this with. We take our time with your fur baby. We allow two hours of your studio session. This is partly because when you first come in with your fur baby, we allow them to take their time in getting used to the new environment. We let them sniff everything and I mean everything. I always get down to their level and sit on the floor of the studio. I’m a permanent fixture of the floor. It’s not unusual for a fur baby to come up and start sniffing my shoes and slowly approach my lap. I will always remember a session with an amazing dog, Lugar. I sat down on the studio floor and although Lugar was not an anxious dog, and was very friendly, he was in a new environment and was a tad unsure of everything. Lugar was one of the most adorable Rottweilers I’ve ever met. He had his favourite pink teddy and when I sat on the floor, he brought his teddy over to me and then proceeded to sit in my lap bum first! It should be noted, Lugar weighed about 65kg but was the biggest sweetheart ever once he was used to the studio environment.
You can take your dog out to new places if you want to and we only suggest this if you feel it will help your dog being in a new environment. However, it is not something you must do before a studio session as it may cause unnecessary angst. We always suggest working with a qualified and reputable dog trainer/behaviourist who can assist you.
We will always make sure your fur kids are safe and secure when in our Melbourne and Brisbane studio. Their safety is paramount and it’s always important for us that you all enjoy your studio session because it’s more than ‘just a studio session,’ it’s your Photography Experience. The treasured moments and the emotions unique to each of you is what helps make it so special. It’s what makes it yours and what helps us capture the essence of their personality and character you love and adore so much.
If you want to learn more about professional dog training, bird toys, interactive cat toys and grooming, check out some of the wonderful sites below with some of our favourite people we love to work with:
Professional Dog Trainers Melbourne
Interactive Cat Toys
Dog Grooming Melbourne
Dog Grooming Brisbane