5 Tips for Including the Family Pet in Newborn Lifestyle Photo Sessions

If you’ve been here for any amount of time, you know that I am a huge animal lover. So of course if you ask me if we should include your pet in your newborn session I will give you an emphatic “YES!!”. While I know you will love the resulting images (who can resist a sweet doggie smiling with an underbite?!), I understand that prepping to include your pet adds another layer of stress and uncertainty to your shoot.

puppy at home with newborn baby and parents

To help you with this, I’ve come up with 5 tips on including your family pet in your lifestyle newborn sessions.

mom and dad and doggie at home with newborn baby
mom tending to newborn baby in nursery mirror reflection

1. Planning is important.

During our pre-session chat we will talk about including your fur-baby in the shoot, whether your pet likes strangers, is shy or skittish, and baby’s safety around your pet. All these factors help me determine the best and most non-disruptive way to include your pet safely.

mom dad and dog in bedroom cuddling with newborn baby

2. Your pet will not be in the whole session.

They get intimidated by the camera, a stranger, and are still adjusting to the newness of a baby in the home, so they usually tolerate being in just some of the photos.

mom and dad holding newborn baby in in nursery with wall decor

3. Your pet is boss.

If you were envisioning they would be included in the photos in a certain room, on a specific piece of furniture, etc., we will invite them to be there. But ultimately, if they don’t want to be there, we will move on to take photos without them. They may surprise you can change their mind or choose to be in a different location with you!

4. Have dog treats on hand.

Treats work wonders and are an easy way to reward them for good behavior while also reassuring them that everything is good.

black and white close ups of mom and dad with newborn baby in home lifestyle

5. Don’t have specific expectations.

Even the most well-trained pet can be unpredictable, especially when a stranger gets close to them with a big black camera in front of their face. So I think the most success comes from enjoying the shoot and inviting fur-baby to get in the frame, and if they do, you may just be surprised that the image we capture is even better than the idea you had (case-in-point below)!

dog sitting by crib looking at camera while mom and dad tend to newborn baby
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Kim Hildebrand