How I Get Your Dog to Look at The Camera: Tricks of The Trade

You’ve seen all the adorable dog portraits online, but have you ever wondered how a photographer gets dogs to look straight into the camera’s lens? Dogs tend to get distracted easily, but here’s the trick: we’re the ones distracting your dog. 


We use various methods to get your dog to look into our camera. We know that you can’t always come to our Houston or New York City studio locations, so please feel free to use these helpful pointers when taking photos of your pet at home! Here are John Glaser Photography’s tricks of the trade when photographing pups:

Using Specific Words and Phrases

Did you know that the average dog can learn 165 words? Every dog has different words and phrases that evoke a response, but there are a few universal words that every dog seems to know. We tend to use phrases like “Do you wanna do X?” or “treat.” The word “treat” always seems to do the trick! 


We might ask you if any words would make your dog pay attention to what we’re doing (AKA look into our camera). 


But when all else fails… we have our secret tools.

standard poodle

Our Secret Tools

While your dog will probably respond to a few of their favorite words, they will only fall for those tricks for a brief time. We always have a plan B at John Glaser photography: our secret tools! 

We use noisemakers to get your dog’s attention. Those adorable photos where the dog’s ears are perky and staring directly into the lens with the sweetest eyes? These shots are made possible by our favorite noisemakers! After photographing 800+ dogs in the past two years, John has a pretty good idea of the noisemakers that work

He says, “I have a bunch of little tools that we use to help get your dog’s attention. We have a squirrel call that makes different kinds of sounds and always gets that dog’s attention. When we make the sound, the dog perks up those ears and looks right at us. Another tool is an elk call; the dog will usually tilt its head and look at us. Lastly, my other favorite tool is the slide whistle. Dogs love this one! This is the one that gets them to do the side head bob that everybody loves and adores. We have the tools to make sure your dog looks fantastic in their photos.” 

If you want to take some photos of your dog at home, you can search online for John’s favorite noisemakers that he just highlighted.

Their Favorite Toys

One of our biggest recommendations when prepping a pup for their portrait is for the owner to bring a few of their favorite toys. If your dog feels a little camera shy, giving them one of their toys from home will give them a sense of familiarity and make them more comfortable in front of the camera. 


Since our business is approximately 80-90% dog photography, we see many familiar cute puppy faces in our studio. Your dog won’t need any of their toys packed for their second or third session (unless you want to use their favorite toy as a prop).

dog photo session new york NYC portraits photography photographer

Treats (Of Course!)

dog portrait photography houston

Every dog owner knows the power of treats. We might use treats (approved by you) to entice your dog to pay attention to us. You’re more than welcome to bring some treats from home! Some dogs have sensitive stomachs, so it’s completely understandable if you want to skip the treats altogether. 

That’s the thing: our session is tailored to whatever works for you and your dog.


Whether you get camera-ready to jump into some shots with your dog or choose to stand on the sidelines, you’ll play a big role in keeping your dog’s attention. They’ll listen to you best! 

Your Favorite Shot Might Be When They’re Looking Away

It’s not uncommon for our clients to worry about how well their dog will perform in front of the camera. There’s no need to put pressure on the situation—your favorite shot might be when your dog is looking somewhere else anyway. If you’re willing to get in the shot, there are usually some fantastic small moments between a dog and its owner that really make the session special. 


Want memorable photos of your pup that will stand the test of time? Between our tricks to get them to look at the camera and your special bond, John Glaser Photography can’t wait to capture the best pictures of your furry friend!