Train your model-dog to be close

Today I met one of my best friends and her beautiful dog. The task was, in addition to talking a lot and take a walk together, to take some portraits of her and her dog.

Scout is a well-trained dog, and they have a strong relationship built on trust. The only problem that occurred was when I wanted to take a close-up, with their faces close together. “That is not done!” said Scout. “I know how to kiss and cuddle, but cheek to cheek? Why?!”

After a few meatballs and some patience and training we got the shot:


You can tell from her ears that this is weird. It’s OK but still weird.

I always find it interesting when dogs react on things I want them to do in photos. My thought is always: “How can I make this enjoyable for the dog?” No photo is worth making a dog do something it’s not OK with, and I NEVER force a dog in a photo shoot.

My own dogs have a dad that always cuddle lots with them, even more than I do, and he has taught the dogs to press cheek against cheek. It can look a bit violent at times when Valle, the middle dog, is a little too eager and slams his cheek against my husbands poor head, but normally it’s a really cute trick.


He is so going to hate me for posting this terrible photo…But you get the idea! My husband and Midori.

All my dogs do a version of this trick. Here’s me and my Old Lady:


Mårran likes to really add some weight and press hard!

It’s the dog that puts her face against mine. Because she wants a cuddle, or – in the case of Valle – to get something he wants. I use no force. Of course, if your dog is comfortable with being held, you can gently hold its face against yours. Just be careful – if the dog isn’t comfortable you will lose the attitude. Bad photo, and a bad experience – it’s just not worth it!

So it’s a trick. A target-trick. My dogs all know how to target nose against hand, nose against post-it-note, put their chin on the floor (or table…or sofa…) and that made it easy to teach cheek against cheek.

Do you want to teach this to your own dog? Start with a nose-touch. I love Emily Larlhams videos on Kikopup, so here’s how she does it:

It’s quite easy to teach them, and it’s fun! When they get the basic nose-touch it can be a little harder to get them to understand how to do it with other body parts, but time, patience, a bit of shaping, and a lot of treats make it a perfect winter project 😉

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