Tip number 1 - Get down to their level.
This particular tip is pretty self explanatory, just by crouching down to your dogs eye level can make the world of difference. It makes them the forefront and focus of the image, rather than them looking small and unimportant. If it is only this tip that you start to use, I can guarantee you will notice the difference in your images, if you've forever been taken them even slightly above your doggo.
Tip number 2 - Focus on their eyes
If you want anything to be in focus in photos of your dog - it's definitely the eyes, even if nothing else is in focus; make sure the eyes are. Their eyes express so much. Their personality and excitement will pour out through your image if you can get those eyes tack sharp.
Tip number 3 - Elevate your dog
Letting your dog sit up on an old tree stump or even up on the deck (or any other form of elevation you can find to use in a safe way), can help with your photos in a few ways. By having them up there, they are generally less likely to move as quickly, possibly giving you those few extra split seconds to capture the shot. Secondly, it makes it easier for you to be at their height, you don't have to crouch down quite as far to get to that eye level (mentioned in tip #1). And thirdly, I always find it is easier to grab a dogs attention while they are up on some sort of prop; locking in their eyes and capturing that as quick as possible... before their attention moves elsewhere.
Tip number 4 - Use leading lines
Leading lines are used in so many genres of photography and this is because it works so well. Leading lines are lines in your photograph that draw your attention to a specific point or subject.
In landscape images you may see these are river's working their way through the valley, to finally direct your eye to the towering mountains. In wedding photography, this can be as simple as the isle, leading you to the bride and groom. I use leading lines such as pathways, bridges or even the lines on a deck.
These 'lines' don't have to specifically be straight and structural though, it can be as simple as a winding dirt track with your dog at the end. What you are trying to achieve with these lines, is to lead the viewers eye over the photograph to eventually land, and stop and your subject.
Tip number 5 - Keep an eye on the light
As you'll have probably noticed, my photos tend to be taken later in the day when the light is slightly golden. In my opinion this is the best time to take photos of any kind really, if you have the choice of course. The light is softer, not as harsh and the beautiful golden hues just add something special to an image, whether than be a photo of your dog or a landscape; golden hour is always a stunner.
Not only is it a good idea to keep an eye on the time of day regarding the light, but also where about's the light or shadows are within your image. It can be something you totally miss when trying to get your dog to look in your direction, sit still for a sec and compose the image nicely. But it can totally ruin an image if you end up with a few dark streaks of shadow right across your dogs face, or the sun blinding your dog so they barely have their eyes open for the shot. So it's always a good idea to try and keep the lighting/sun in the back of your mind.
Tip number 6 - Remove the clutter.
I can betcha that even just a coffee mug on the table in the background will annoy the crap outta you if the rest of the photo is perfect! You've finally got your dog to sit still for long enough to bend down and get that photo with his cheesy smile beaming on through. Boom! You got it! But then you see there's a coffee mug and the pile of washing to be folded in the background; we all have house clutter, but it is still frustrating.
My advice is to prepare the area long before you actually try to get any photos of your doggo. Then you know you don't need to be soooo conscious of keeping an eye on that background clutter. Though, it is still a good idea to keep checking the background itself, as sometimes you may end up with it looking like there's a table coming out of your dogs head or something similar. It's something you'll likely never notice if you're not consciously mindful of it, therefore it'll only be once you look back at the images that you'll see it.
Tip number 7 - Use portrait and landscape orientation.
So many times I see photos with a whole bunch of space around the dog, while the dog is a teeny tiny spot at the bottem. Sometimes negative space can be used artistically but sometimes it's clear that this wasn't the intention and maybe the photo should have been taken in landscape orientation instead, to get rid of so much space.
It's easy to forget that we can turn our camera's/phone, but as well as filling the space, it can also provide a lot of variety and is also handy when trying to choose a series of photos for framing. By having landscape and portrait options, you can then pick and choose what will be necessary for the space you are looking to fill on the wall.
Tip number 8 - Use contrasting colours.
Your dog can get lost in the background if your photographing him against a colour that's similar to his fur. Finding a light background if your dog is a darker colour, and a dark background if your dog is light, will help bring contrast to your image.
Using contrast in your image will help direct the viewers eye to your subject and helps in giving more of a mood to your image.
And finally tip number 9 - have fun!
This obviously comes without saying, but sometimes when we are trying to capture something that may take a little longer than we expected, it can be frustrating - so just have fun with it. If you are having fun, your dog will be having fun and I can guarantee you will get a much better expression if that is the case.
Show your dogs goofy personality, capture that tongue half out - it's all fun and games and no practice is not worth it.