Including your Dog in your Newborn Photography Session

Dec 22, 2022

How to Prepare for a Newborn and Dog Photoshoot

What’s sweeter than a newborn session for your brand new baby?  How about a newborn photography session where your fur-baby can also take part in the fun!  Babies and puppies, yes please!  If you know me, you’ll know that I love dogs, and of course I also love newborns, so when a client asks if it’s ok to bring along Fido to their newborn or maternity session, I am all about it!  Incorporating your fur-baby into our newborn session is so much fun, and is such a perfect way to make sure the whole family is included in these special moments for your growing family.  Preparing for a newborn session with a dog can be a bit stressful if you think your pup might not sit still or pose just the way you want them to.  Let’s talk about including your dog into your newborn photography session as well as what to expect!

How to Introduce your Newborn to your Dog

Before we talk about bringing Fido along to your newborn’s photoshoot, let’s start at the beginning.  As for all aspects of my newborn photography sessions, my number one priority is safety.  Remember that your family dog has just realized that its ranking in the pack has gone down.  They understand that this new tiny human that has just disrupted their routine is here to stay, and that mom and dad are preoccupied with the new baby, which sometimes can affect your doggo.  I remember when we brought our first daughter home from the hospital to our fur-baby, Miller. He was your typical, loving Labrador (he has since crossed the rainbow bridge), but for a couple of days after we returned home, he got a little sad and didn’t want to eat as much.  We think he was just realizing that things were changing and needed a couple of days to adapt.  After that, he was back to normal and loved playing with Ava as she grew up.  Anyway, I recommend a few things when bringing baby home to your dog to raise a home with happy babies and puppies!

  • Before coming home with baby from the hospital, have a friend or family member stop by your home with a blanket or beanie that has your newborn’s scent on it.  Have your friend or family member introduce the item to your dog and praise the pup. letting him or her they’re a good dog!
  • Once you bring baby home, make sure to keep up with your dog’s routine.  If your pup gets a certain amount of walks, feeds, treats and playtime every day, try to keep on schedule as much as possible to remind them that even though there’s a new human in the house, your fur baby is still loved, cared for and not forgotten about.
  • Always use caution when introducing your newborn to your dog.  You know your dog’s temperament, and likely, your doggo will be happy with his/her new ‘hooman’, but always take precautions to make sure both baby and dog are safe.

Santee photographer takes epic shots for her clients in 2023

How to Prepare the Day of the Newborn Photo Session with your Dog

We are getting closer to photo day!  Yay!  Don’t forget to do the following things BEFORE getting into your car and driving to the newborn photography studio:

  • Make sure your dog has followed his/her routine so far.  We want to make sure your pup is not confused or thrown off by a different schedule on the day of your session.
  • Make sure to exercise your dog well.  Bring your dog for an extra long walk, play fetch outside for a while, go for a run, etc.
  • Make sure they poop before the session.  Dogs are really routine about their poops, so you’ll know if they’ve gone yet for the morning.  I don’t mind newborn poop but dog poop in the studio is not my favorite.
  • Have Fido groomed.  Did you know that San Diego’s best dog groomers happen to be right next door to my newborn photography studio?  FurOlogy Pet Spaw in Santee is amazing, and literally steps away from my studio door!
  • Pack a water bowl and treats.
  • Pack a squeaky toy or whatever toy you know will get their attention.
  • Pack a towel with your dog’s scent on it so they can lay down on it in the studio if you plan on keeping your fur baby there for the entirety of the session.
  • If you are not planning on keeping your dog at the studio the full three hours, plan on having a friend or family member bring Fido home or to the park after their photo time.

How to photograph newborn and dog together with composite editing

Preparing your Dog for Arrival at the Photography Studio

Upon your arrival, your dog is going to be so excited to check out this new space.  There’s going to be lots of sniffing going on! I recommend keeping your dog on a leash and letting them sniff around to make sure they’re comfortable there.  I suggest one of the parents tend to the dog and the other to the newborn for arrival.  In terms of your newborn’s arrival instructions, I will let you know to prepare baby by undressing baby, doing a diaper check and FEEDING baby upon arrival in the studio so that baby will be sleepy, comfortable and content to begin our session.  In the meantime, your dog will have ample time to sniff around, get hello pets and praises by me and their little area set up – I suggest putting the towel down in a spot near your, along with the water bowl.  Once Fido has checked things out and is ready to chill, he or she will have a nice little spot to call their own during the session.

Once baby has been fully fed and doggo has explored the studio, we will begin our session with those dog and newborn photos.  Gotta love these images of babies and puppies together…

bachelorette Krystal Nielsen photo in flower field

How To Get my Dog to Pose Perfectly with my Newborn for a Photo

Here’s a secret… most of the images I am sharing with you of babies and puppies are actually COMPOSITES!  What’s a composite?  Well, like I said above, SAFETY is my number one priority, so in order to keep everyone safe, if I find it necessary (and I usually do), I will photograph baby and dog separately in the pose, and then do some Photoshop magic to merge the two images together to create one beautiful final image of your two ‘babies’.  Do you want to see what I am talking about?

Let’s take my most recent newborn and dog photography session.  This English Bulldog was an absolute sweetheart and is so special to mom and dad that of course, we just HAD to include him in his new brother’s photoshoot.  We started with photos of just Big Brother Bulldog sitting on the posing table.  I set him up as if I was going to place baby brother next to him but for safety reasons, I did not and chose to make this a composite image.  I took a TON of shots, calling his name, making squeaky sounds, I shot from right about the angle where I knew baby would be so that the completed edit would look not only believable but perfectly polished.  Once I got several different shots of this sweet pup, I moved onto his baby human brother.  I grabbed a few prop pillows that I thought were about the height of this fur-brother and had mom and dad assist me as I carefully posed baby against those pillows.  I grabbed a few different shots here as well, getting slightly different angles to make sure that at least one of the doggo shots would match up perfectly with one of the baby ones.

How to photoshop a newborn and a dog together as a composite newborn photo for baby photoshoot

I ended up using FOUR different images to create this one perfect shot.  Yep, four!  I was able to get the sweet pup to look adorably right into my camera but my angle was just not perfect.  You see, I shoot ‘wide open’, which means that I am at an aperture of 1.8, creating great depth of field or ‘bokeh’ with my images. It’s my personal style and I love the results of these settings.  Anyways, because of the not so perfect angle, his legs were not on the same plane as his face, making them appear ‘farther’ away and more blurred.  Knowing that I needed the newborn to ‘rest’ on his legs, I needed a second pair of doggy legs, so I opted for another shot I took of this cute bulldog where my angle was a tad lower, bringing his legs more into focus.  Next, for this sweet baby boy, I used two separate images with mom supporting his head and neck in two different areas to help with properly editing everything together.  I worked on this for many hours to finally achieve this:

Newborn and dog photoshoot ideas for baby photography session

Pretty cool, right?

It’s not just for these more intricate shots that I do composites.  Even for simple shots such as having baby swaddled in a basket or bucket, and having the fur-sibling on the ground, next to the basket, unless both dog and baby are completely immobile (and most dogs are very much mobile), incorporating your dog into your newborn photography session will likely be shot in composites just to make sure everyone is safe and also to ensure that I am able to capture the best expressions from both dog and baby.

photos of babies and puppies

Dog and Newborn Posing Ideas for Photos

There are so many adorable newborn photos with their dog incorporated.  Which ones are right for your dog?  Well we should definitely look into your dog’s temperament.  Can your dog sit, stay, lay down on command and keep to it until your release them verbally from their command?  Is your dog a bit on the spazzy side and likes to do somersaults in the air?  Is your dog a lap sized dog or a gentle giant that can’t fit on the posing table?  There are so many variables that go into what kinds of poses will work best for your fur baby and human baby together.  Here are few favorite ideas on including your dog into your newborn photography session:

  • Baby in bucket, dog next to bucket
  • Baby swaddled in basket, dog next to basket
  • Baby in froggy pose, dog sitting next to baby on posing table
  • Baby in ‘bum up’ pose with dog resting his/her head on baby’s back
  • Baby sitting vertically, resting on dog’s body
  • Baby laying on his/her side, resting on dog’s paws
  • Baby in prop, dog ‘sniffing’ baby
  • Family holding baby, dog looking up at baby
  • Babies and puppies laying on back, snuggled together
  • Baby and dog individually swaddled and photographed from above, laying down

Will my dog be jealous of my newborn

Newborn and Dog Photo Inspiration for Photography Session

I love dogs and including your dog into your newborn photography session is a must!  If you are considering bringing in your pup to your newborn photographer, I recommend communicating with her prior to your session so that both you and your photographer can make all of those preparations to ensure your newborn photoshoot with your dog runs smoothly and that your visions align.  Make sure to share with your photographer any inspiration photos of babies and puppies PRIOR to your session to make sure those shots of babies and puppies are possible to create.  Search Google for shots that inspire you, and that you think your pup will handle well.

Interested in booking a newborn or maternity photoshoot in San Diego with babies and puppies?  Let’s do it!

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Sophie Crew Photography is an award-winning specialized Newborn Photographer located in San Diego County, CA.