One of the benefits of working with a professional pet photographer is that I have the knowledge to work with your reactive dog, keeping everyone happy and safe whilst still achieving the most beautiful pet portraits. In this blog, I will share some tips on how I create a professional pet portrait session for your reactive dog whilst setting them up for success.


  • Planning
  • Environment
  • Safety


Every session starts with planning, regardless of whether your dog is reactive. My ultimate goal is to get to know you and your pet so I can design a session just for you. During our initial consultation, we’ll talk all about your dog and what your vision is for your final photographs. You’ll also be sent an in-depth questionnaire about your dog and his triggers, and fears and how you overcome these on a day-to-day basis. This allows me to create a plan for your session to fit your dog’s needs and make sure we aren’t setting him up to fail.

For example, some dogs are most sensitive to other dogs in their space or view and need us to do our best to eliminate the possibility of encountering other dogs during their photoshoot. This mostly comes down to choosing the most suitable location for your photoshoot. There is more on the ideal environment in the next section.

Other dogs are nervous or fearful of strangers and prefer for them to keep their distance. This is where working with a professional pet photographer can really make a difference. For all of my outdoor sessions, I use a long lens that allows me to be further away from your pet so that they are comfortable. As a pet specialist, I have also had extensive training in canine behaviour which help me to understand your dog. We can also play a couple of games as we walk around for your session to help your dog get a little more comfortable with having me in their general vicinity. My FAVOURITE game for this is for me to have a handful of your pet’s high-value treats and to throw a couple behind me as we walk to find the ideal photo spots, creating a positive association with my presence. I will never walk directly up to your dog, either - we’ll do everything at your dog’s pace and not all dogs want to interact with strangers - and that’s ok!

Other dogs may have a fear of loud noises or sudden movements. For dogs that are nervous about noise and movement, I’ll put away my squeakers and animal calls - bringing down the volume of our session. I have tricks up my sleeve to engage nervous dogs without ever making a sound or sudden movements. As the owner of a nervous nellie (our ex-hare courser Saluki, Birch), I have first-hand experience in dealing with dogs with these fears and triggers which, combined with training from renowned dog trainers, helps me to work with your fearful dog.


Once I know all about your dog and his reactivity, we can go ahead and plan the ideal location of your photoshoot, setting them up for success. I have options to suit all dogs, from quiet, but still public, woodlands to private venues that I can hire for your session to ensure we’re the only ones around. I also have a private studio space where we can be indoors and completely separate from other dogs and people. I promise, there is an option to suit your dog’s needs.

I have access to a number of private and absolutely stunning wedding venues that we can rent out and they’re pretty much deserted on weekdays. Or we have the option of visiting locations such as Ostler’s Plantation, where you can go for a walk during peak Saturday hours and still not meet a single person or dog. Perfect, right!?


Within all sessions, safety is my number one priority. I will never do anything that would put you and your dog at risk, so this is a top priority at all times. The simplest way to ensure safety, is to keep your reactive dog on a regular, short lead at all times so they can be easily controlled. Nearly every dog I photograph remains on a lead for their photoshoot, and this is no different for reactive dogs. And while everyone stays on lead - you won’t find many leads in your final images! Lead removal is the number one in post-production magic for professional dog photographers.

As long as we plan your reactive dogs photoshoot keeping my three steps in mind:

  • Planning
  • Environment
  • Safety

I can create a meaningful session experience for you and your dog, still delivering absolutely stunning professional pet photos that keep you and your dog safe and happy at all times.

All of the photos in this blog are from a recent session with Ellie, Joe and their fear-reactive Dachshund called Bambi. Here’s what Ellie and Joe had to say about their experience having a professional pet photoshoot with their reactive dog:

“ We never thought we’d be able to have a photo shoot with our miniature dachshund due to her nervous reactivity but Kirsty catered the whole experience to be comfortable for our dog and us. She picked the perfect location and was so patient and understanding of the space our dog needed.
We now have the most beautiful photos and cannot wait to receive them framed.“