Sometimes I joke that the only reason we train dogs is so that we can get better photos of them. Yes, of course we want our dogs to learn how to live safely with humans, reduce environmental stressors, make them enjoyable companions, keep them mentally stimulated and take them on grand adventures. But we also want cool pictures.
Rugby’s Photo Advent Calendar for 2018 is in full swing, and since we are taking photos every day, I thought this might be a good time to recap how training has helped us get these shots. There will be 25 photos total, so I’ll break them up into sets of 5. Maybe this list of skills will help you refine your training goals for your own dogs, and improve your photo poses as well.
Day 1. Benson-Hammond House
Sit/Stay was main training skill used for this photo, but also, surprisingly was the Come command. To get the dogs in sit/stays so close to each other, you either need to 1) place them there manually, 2) ask each dog to heel into position and then leave them, or 3) ask them to come. Rugby and Bourbon both know that come means to sit straight in front of me. Thanks to that command, I can face opposite the direction I want the dogs to end up, ask one of them to come, then move a few inches over and ask the other to come. Bam. Photo ready in seconds. Then the hardest part of taking the picture is operating the camera. A photographer, I am not.
Day 2. Dinosaur Village
I left Bourbon in a Stand/Stay for this photo because I thought it would seem like she was a giant dinosaur. That didn’t really end up happening, but at least she made it into the picture at all. Rugby is holding a Down/Stay and assisting the Pterodactyl with a Fetch/Hold command.
In other news… who knew Pterodactyl started with a P?! Thanks, Google.
Day 3. Craft Store
Another pretty easy photo, with Bourbon in a Stand/Stay and Rugby doing a Place and Sit. We did venture into the craft store for this photo however, so that meant that we also used a lot of other skills to get to that point including Heel, Polite Greeting, and Leave It. If your dog isn’t well behaved in public places, your photo opportunities are limited to your home. That is no fun.
Day 4. DIY Tug Toy
Rugby isn’t much into tugging, so I knew they wouldn’t tug together for my photo (which might actually be cuter and require less training). To compensate for their very different play styles, I put them both into a Stretch/Bow and asked them both to Fetch/Hold the tug toy.
I use tug toys a lot when training Bourbon since its one of her favorite games, and its hard to find decent tug toys at the pet store. We used the instructions from The Honest Kitchen blog to make the toys. Disclaimer: Fleece is easily destroyed, so if you have a toy chewer, save these tugs as interactive toys. They come out when you are training and tugging, and then they go away so they can’t be destroyed. I like to keep one in all of our most common training areas (out of reach of the dogs).
Day 5. Tire Pressure
Stand/Stays are coming up a lot on this list already, and in this photo Bourbon is doing it again. I can add that to the many reasons I like to teach the command to dogs. So useful, and so often overlooked. Rugby is supervising, like always, and using the Up command to make him tall enough to actually fit in the photo.
I suspect there will be lots of repeat commands used in the rest of our Red and Green photos, be will try to include a few novel tricks in there too. Feel free follow along with Rugby’s Advent Calendar on our Instagram page. Trained dogs really do have more fun!