English mastiffs in a Papago Park engagement session
I'm a dog person and there's no hiding it! I even have birthday parties every year for my Dixie-dog.

I've also found that many of my clients love their pets just as much as I love mine ... and they want to include them in their photos.

If you're engaged, you might be wondering whether you should bring your furry friend to your engagement shoot. When it's possible, I am a HUGE fan of having dogs in engagement sessions! Including your dog is a great way to personalize your shoot, and it can be a wonderful opportunity to have professional photos taken of you with your pet. It also adds a sense of ease and comfort for many people who might otherwise feel camera-shy. After all, it's hard to feel self-conscious when you're playing with an adorable pooch!

Here are five things I suggest you do if you would like to include your pet in your engagement photos:

1. Discuss including your pet with your photographer
While I'm personally a fan of including dogs, your photographer might have reservations (or allergies). And even if they're thrilled to have your pup in the shoot, your photographer will still need to know ahead of time so that they can prepare to make the most of the opportunity. I like to ask whether my clients would like to include a pet in their engagement photos on my Getting To Know You questionnaire right after they hire me, but if your photographer doesn't bring it up, make sure you DO!
English mastiffs in a Papago Park engagement session
English mastiffs in a Papago Park engagement session
English mastiffs in a Papago Park engagement session
2. Bring along a dog-wrangler
No matter how much you adore your dog, you probably want a significant portion of your engagement photos to focus just on you and your fiancé. So ask a friend or family member (who is already comfortable with your dog) to come along and take care of your pup during the dog-free portions of the shoot. This way you get all of the joy of including your dog without having to worry about them when they're out of the frame! Typically I like to do the first half of the shoot with the dog and the second half without, so it often works great to have the friend or family member take the pup home at the half-way point.

3. Pack for your dog's needs
This sounds like common sense, but when you're thinking about whether your outfit goes with the one your fiancé is wearing and what the traffic will be like on the way to meet your photographer ... well, it can be easy to forget to bring pet-necessities. So plan ahead and have a little go-bag prepared to accompany your dog to the shoot. This can contain: a water dish and bottled water, treats, a toy, and waste bags -- anything your dog needs to feel safe and well cared for on the shoot!
Arcadia home engagement shoot with a dog
Arcadia home engagement shoot
Arcadia home engagement shoot with a dog
Arcadia home engagement shoot with a dog
4. Make sure the location is pet-friendly
Just because a location is outdoors doesn't necessarily mean it's a good fit for your pooch! For example, in the shoot above I was taking Jon & Alison into the desert for much of their engagement shoot. Cacti and fluffy fur aren't the best combination! So we made sure to take photos with Wrigley from the safety of their front porch before heading off into the desert without her.

5. Have fun!
One of the reasons your want your dog to be part of your engagement photos is because they're already a part of your family. So let that connection shine! Don't be afraid to have fun with your fiancé and your pet! The happiness and comfort you feel together will show in your images.
The Farm at South Mountain engagement shoot with a dog
The Farm at South Mountain engagement shoot with a dog
The Farm at South Mountain engagement shoot with a dog
The Farm at South Mountain engagement shoot with a dog
I always feel so blessed to get to document a couple with their furry family members! I know that the resulting photos will be shared and smiled over for years to come. So if you have been wondering how to include your dog in your engagement photos, I hope these suggestions help!

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5 tips for including your dog in your engagement photos, plus adorable inspiration!
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