5 min read

How to Take the "Pawfect" Selfie with Your Dog


Written by Emily Bayne

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 09/20/2022, edited: 09/30/2022


Looking to level up your pup's selfie game? These top-tier photography tips will help your pup master the art of the selfie and have all the other #DogsOfInstagram drooling! From basic editing knowledge to keeping your pet still for shoots, here's how to take "pawfect" selfies with your dog!

Train your dog to "sit pretty"

The first step to getting a quality pic is to train your woofer to sit still for the camera. Granted, this is easier said than done, and it will take some patience and consistent training on your part. You'll need to teach your pup how to sit and stay — but we know with some treats and lots of praise, your dog will master this skill in no time!

Coax your dog with what motivates them

Not sure how to get your dog to smile for pictures? Treats are never a bad idea if you're trying to coax your dog into doing something, like sitting still or smiling for the camera. But it's important to consider your dog's driving force — is your dog motivated by toys, food, or praise?

Bribing a food-driven dog with toys probably won't get you anywhere, and neither will offering a milk bone to a pup who lives for praise. Use what motivates your dog to get them to pose (and buy you time before they lose interest, too!).

Want to teach your pup to flash off their pearly whites for the camera? Here's a guide to training your dog how to smile (with teeth!).

Tucker Fido out before having them pose

Excited, hyper, and understimulated dogs are not good photo subjects (unless you're planning an action shot!). To help your dog burn some energy before breaking out the cam, try going for a walk or playing a game of fetch.

Apart from giving your pup some exercise, a good run will also make your dog pant, which can appear as a smile in your shots!

Call in reinforcements

If you're still wondering, "How on earth do I get my dog to stay still for a picture?" even after trying the above tips, you may need to call in reinforcements.

Rope in a friend your dog trusts to hold their attention by squeaking toys, holding a ball, or talking to them. Plus, they'll be able to help with lighting, camera settings, or backdrop malfunctions as needed!

Don't force your pup to take a selfie if they don't want to

Forcing your dog to take pictures probably won't result in a good selfie (and it may even cause your dog to become reactive). Signs your pooch has had enough include:

 If your pooch isn't having it, pack up the selfie stick and try again later when they’re feeling more comfortable.

Try different camera modes

Getting a dog to sit perfectly still for a selfie for minutes on end is nearly "impawssible". Set yourself up for success by switching your camera to burst mode. Burst mode snaps several pictures in a row — this will increase your odds of getting a clear shot and give you more content to work with.

Some pet parents will even record videos and take stillframes from the recordings to use as selfies. Live photos are great for this, too, since they record a short 3-second clip, and you can manually select the best photo.

Invest in some photography accessories

Operating a camera phone while holding a dog for pictures should be an Olympic sport — but the odds of getting a clear selfie while juggling an iPhone and a wiggly Shiba Inu is slim to none.

We suggest investing in a tripod (bonus points if it folds into a selfie stick!) and some sort of remote for your phone. If you have a smart watch, check to see if it has a camera feature. Most Bluetooth watches have a button you can use to take photos without holding a physical remote!

Related: Wag!'s Guide to the Best Pet Photography Gear for Beginners

Smartphone photography tips for beginners

A little photography know-how can go a long way when taking selfies with your dog, and you might be surprised at how a few simple tricks can boost your selfie game. Here are a few to get you started! 

Keep your phone updated

Keeping your phone up to date with the latest software is an easy (and free!) way to take better photos without buying a new device. Both iOS and Android constantly roll out new features and updates to improve photo quality.

Focus on composition

Want to give your selfie an artsy twist? Creating unique composition is vital for a visually appealing photo. You can do this in several ways:

  • Pick a background with bright or complementary colors to make your picture "pop".
  • Use symmetrical (or asymmetrical!) elements to create visual interest.
  • Creating depth by blurring the background.
  • Play around with angles and lighting.

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to selfie, so do what feels right!

Turn on the camera grid

Using the camera grid is another simple way to help your photo composition. The grid divides your screen into 9 equal parts to help you align your subject matter and background and create a more appealing image.

For maximum impact, align the horizon of your background with a horizontal gridline and align the subject matter (your pup!) at an intersection within the grid.

Use portrait mode

Portrait mode is terrific for taking professional-looking pictures without having to edit them. This mode focuses on the subject's features while blurring the background to create striking contrast, making the subject(s) stand out.  

Avoid flash and zoom whenever possible

Flash and zoom have their places in photography, but usually not in selfies. Flash can cause weird reflections, overexposure, red eye, and (ironically) shadows in your shot. If you need better lighting, get a ring light for your phone instead of using flash.

We don't recommend using digital zoom either since it can cause your photo to become grainy and distorted — even 2x zoom can affect photo quality.

Don't underestimate good lighting

Generally, it's best to avoid areas where the light is behind you or directly overhead. Overhead light tends to cast shadows, so choose horizontal light to brighten your faces. You may also want to take advantage of the "Hollywood hour" — the hour just before sunset — which gives photos a beautiful, warm light.

Learn how to adjust the photo settings to accentuate your pup's features

Learning how to adjust your camera settings is especially important for parents of dark-colored pets. Unfortunately for our dark-furred friends, their facial features often get lost in photos — especially with busy backgrounds and poor lighting. Adjusting your camera settings and exposure can help to bring your pet's beautiful features back into focus. 

Download some quality photo editing apps

Forget to change your camera settings? Luckily, there are dozens of photo editing apps to help you correct red-eye, under or overexposure, background clutter, and more. Play around with the settings to see what you like, or try on preset filters to give your selfies a cool look. Here are some of the best editing apps for Apple and Android devices: 

  • Facetune        
  • Lightroom       
  • Snapseed    
  • Photoshop Express 

Unsure where to start? YouTube tutorials can teach you how to make the most of these apps!

We know with these tips and a few changes to your camera settings, your pooch will be working the camera like never before!

Is your dog a selfie king or queen? We'd love to see their pics in the comments below! Or tag us on Instagram @wag for a chance to be featured on our feed!

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