Pets are part of the family, so of course, you want them to be involved in holiday photos! From posed portraits in front of the tree to candid moments pulverizing the wrapping paper that conceals a new toy, these photos will be cherished for many Christmases to come. Grab your camera and get ready to say cheese (or meow, bark, or whatever noise your pet makes) as I unleash the five must-have photos to capture with your furry friend this holiday season.
1. Pets in Their Festive Fashion Favorites
Although your pet may disagree, one of the most fun things about the holidays is getting to dress up your four-legger in festive attire. It’s basically a rite of passage if you will. Whether he’s donning a Santa hat or rocking an ugly Christmas sweater, there are few things in life that light you up brighter than a string of Christmas lights than seeing your pet in full holiday fashion, am I right?
Of course, getting them to cooperate in your “dresscapades” is a whooole different story, but the patience of adjusting that reindeer antler headband 62 times proves worth it when you capture that playfully endearing holiday photo. Just uh…don’t ask Hunter to weigh in. Then again, I’m not sure you need to consider a few of our Christmas card photos from—you guessed it—2020. (I give you exhibit A.)
2. Pets Opening Presents on Christmas Morning
Every Christmas morning, I make sure to grab a few photos of the Hunter opening it presents. He always looks so excited and beside himself stretched out in a full play bow in front of the tree, shredding wrapping paper to tiny bits as he tears into his new gifts…and most of ours! (Yeah, what we thought would be an adorable “trick” evolved into the very reason that, more than thirteen years later, we still can’t leave wrapped presents unattended beneath the tree. He’s the four-legged version of a spoiler alert. )
Numerous studies have shown that taking photographs can help improve our mood and mental well-being. In fact, the simple act of taking photos itself can be quite therapeutic. For me, photographing Hunt on Christmas morning is a favorite tradition that reminds me to appreciate the simple joys of life and embrace these hilarious, sweet, and joy-filled moments just as he does.
3. Pets Cuddled Up Together on a Cold Winter Night
There’s something special about taking photos of pets cuddling together on a cold winter night, a quiet and peaceful moment that we don’t often see as they huddle close to each other, seeking warmth and comfort while, in the background, you can see the twinkle of the Christmas tree or warm glow of a beautifully decorated fireplace. It’s an iconic holiday scene that reminds us of the joys of the season. Whether it’s a typically miffed Mr. Mittens curled up with your overzealous shark-toothed puppy, or two rabbits snuggled together among the hay, these sentimental pictures beautifully capture the true spirit of Christmas.
Unfortunately, Hunter has made it clear that he would not be keen on sharing his home or humans with another pet, so my portraits are limited to him sleeping under the tree alone unless you count his favorite squeaky shark, porcupine sloth (lovingly named because no one can really tell what that thing is), and a polar bear that bears the brunt of most of his highly strung playtimes.
4. Pets Being Naughty or Nice
As the holiday approach, we all start to feel the festive spirit, but our pets can sometimes be a little too excited about the season. From raiding the Christmas cookies still warm from the oven to sneaking a peek at Christmas gifts (ahem—Hunterrr), our pets often find themselves smack dab in the middle of some camera-worthy holiday funny business.
While they may not mean any harm, their naughty antics can sometimes make for a very stressful holiday season. (Lump of coal, anyone?) If you’re finding yourself dealing with a mischievous mutt this holiday season, take a deep breath and remember that he’s just trying to enjoy the festive season like the rest of us. After all, what’s Christmas without a little bit of chaos? Grab the camera, document these holiday high jinks, and laugh about it later. Like, after you’ve cleaned up the roomful of Buffalo Snow that some one decided to scatter all over the place. I mean, I suppose that’s one way to spread holiday cheer—literally!
5. Pets Posing with Santa
The holidays are a time to get together with family and friends, exchange gifts, and celebrate traditions. For pet parents, however, this season can also require you to take extra steps to make sure your furry friends are safe and comfortable.
One tradition that may require a little extra planning is getting holiday photos with Santa. While many dogs enjoy meeting new people and posing for pictures, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be overwhelming for some pups.
To ensure a positive experience for both you and your dog, there are a few things you can do:
- Make sure to introduce your dog to Santa gradually. Allow him to approach on his own terms and give them plenty of time to sniff and explore. (I’m talking about your dog, not Santa.)
- Bring along some of your dog’s favorite treats or toys to help them feel more relaxed in an unfamiliar setting.
- Stand directly behind the photographer so your pup looks in the direction of the camera. Let the photographer be the one to capture their attention with sounds and special words.
- If you’ll be the one taking the photo, have your camera in hand and ready to go so you can capture the exact moment your dog looks your way.
With a little preparation, you can make sure that getting holiday photos with Santa is a fun, safe and memorable experience for everyone involved.
Making Memories (and Spirits Bright) with Must-Have Holiday Photos
Capturing your pet in photos during the Christmas season is a must-do activity for all pet parents. Not only will you have a season filled with great memories to look back on, but you’ll also be able to spread holiday cheer by sharing them online with family and friends. Be sure to capture all of those classic poses—from opening presents to playing with ornaments (whacking them off the tree by using their tails like baseball bats counts too)—as well as any funny and often unexpected moments that happen along the way.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to tag Bark & Gold Photography in your social media posts so I can see them! The more, the merrier!
What are some of your favorite photos and memories of your furry friend during the holidays? Share them with me in the comments below. And, as always, if you’d prefer to make some year-round memories alongside your pet, I’m here for you. Choose your adventure below to begin.