So you want to be a model? 5 Things to Know About Pet Models

So you want to be a model? 5 Things to Know About Pet Models

“My dog would love to model for you!” “My cat has a really unique look and would be perfect as a model.”

I hear these types of comments whenever someone finds out that I am a commercial pet photographer (see site). And then they usually proceed to show me lots of adorable photos of them on their phone. (Which I love, by the way!)

The truth is, your dog or cat is gorgeous and obviously very much loved. But there is a difference between having a great pet and having one that can model. And, I do find that some people are simply unaware of just what those differences are. So, this post is to go through some things to think about before you start. Let’s see if the pet model world is for you!

dog photographer ontario

1. Know why you want your pet to be a model.

This is a big one. Why do you want your dog to model? Why is your cat the perfect one? Is it because they will enjoy it? Or…is it you?

Sit with that for a moment. Because, in reality, your pet does not actually know they are modelling. What they do know is that they are taken to different places, with different people, who ask them to do different things. So, what you need to be realistic about is: will they enjoy what they will be asked to do?

Brands love photos of happy, healthy and, most importantly, relaxed dogs (even if they will not always describe it that way). Now, by ‘relaxed’, I do not mean sleepy, although sometimes that can be a great look if you are photographing a bed. But your pet does need to be generally content in the situation they find themselves in. Certainly not afraid or anxious. And not overly excited either. That happy, calm, confident vibe is what we are looking for. And these feelings show up in their body language which get recorded in photographs and video.

So…if your furry friend would rather just live their days looking at you adoringly, begging for belly rubs and treats, please let them do so. Because – and this is important – There is no job worth making them miserable for.

dog photography ontario

2. Be clear and honest about what your pet can do and what their limitations are.

A solid and consistent sit/stay is an invaluable skill and  I would say, without it, your pet will not be a good candidate for working on a commercial set. But that does not mean that you should fib about whether they can, in fact, sit and stay. It will become all too apparent when they are asked to. It is your reputation on the line, not theirs.

It is also important to know how they react to the more common things on a studio set – flashing lights, beeps/sounds, people talking, food left around. Can they keep their focus on the task at hand or do they get distracted? Or, worse yet, does it make them upset?

Here is a list of some other things that are not required for every job, but very valuable for a photographer or agency to know.

  1.  Do they like to wear clothes? Not just, do you dress them up?
  2. Can they wear anything on their head for an extended period of time? (sunglasses, hats etc.)
  3. Do they like to go in the water and/or get wet?
  4. Can they put their head down on command?
  5. What tricks can they do consistently when asked to? (ie. holding items in their mouth, getting up on back legs, play bow etc.)

If your dog or cat has a unique skill, please let us know! But, only if you can recreate it consistently. And remember: there is no job worth making them miserable for.

dog photographer ontario

3. “Getting along with others” is valuable.

Often times, your pet will not be the only one on set but there will be other pups and maybe some cats. We need to know how your dog will react in that environment. It goes without saying that any food aggression, dog aggression, or a high prey drive is not good. But, knowing that these issues exist can help mitigate any risk to you, your pet and other models.

Additionally, if they feel a need to exert their dominance in situations with other animals by marking or mounting, that can be hard to manage. The opposite is true too. If your pet becomes scared of normal interaction with another dog or cat, and exhibits it by peeing or hiding, it is best to know now. It means that they should probably only be on jobs where they are the only model. Again, you guessed it, there is no job worth making them miserable for.

dog photography ontario

4. You need to be dependable and clearly communicate.

If you say you will show up, you need to show up. Please do not agree to something and then email the night before to cancel because ‘something came up’. You will only be remembered as the person who caused unnecessary stress to the team and probably will not be invited again.

On the day of, please arrive on time. It is nerve-racking to have a set full of people waiting for the talent to show up.

This means planning ahead for the things you can. Do you know how long it takes to get to the location? Do you know how to enter the location? Where to park? How long it will take you to walk from the parking to the location? Give yourself more time than you think you need because it never goes completely according to plan.

Same thing for the end of the day. Give yourself extra time for your next appointment and do not schedule yourself for something vitally important directly afterwards. Dogs and cats are individuals and sometimes it can take a few extra minutes to get the shot. If you need to leave early, that is almost as bad as not having shown up at all.

We really just need to know what you are doing. You would be surprised how many times I send out an email and simply do not hear back or someone responds long after the session has occurred. If that happens, the dog is often struck from our roster because there is not enough time to chase people down. It’s not a problem if you are not available – I simply need to know.

5. Generally, you will not have access to the images.

Of course, the question is: why? Let me explain…

The company has a brand. What’s that? Simply put, it is how a customer feels about a company. People react to visual things, so photography heavily influences how we perceive a company, what we think their values are, and whether we will purchase from them. Understandably, companies go to great lengths to protect their brand and will only release images that represent them best. So, after a full day of shooting, they might only choose 3-5 hero images.

It is important to know that the images chosen are usually a part of a marketing plan or launch. Obviously, the company wants to be the first to show those images to their audience in the context and channels they have determined will give them the best ROI. So, the images are guarded. And no one else has them, including models.

What about the rest of the images not chosen? Can you have them to share on your Instagram? The short answer is often no, and here is why.

  1. Those images are not the best representation of the brand. If they were, they would have been selected.
  2. Those images do not actually ‘exist’. In other words, even if a company wanted to give them to you, the photos could not be released until they were edited. In most cases, the company has moved on, the photography team has other projects for other clients in the works and there is no time to go back and do additional editing of images that will not be used by the company.
  3. The company purchased the license to images from the shoot. It would be unethical to give other images to a third-party for free.

There are exceptions to this, of course. But, you will often find that it is small businesses and solo-preneurs that will let you have access to images, not the larger, more established brands.

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Bonus Point 6: We would LOVE to have you as a model.

The truth is we are always looking for new furry faces to add to our roster. And we would love to meet you!

Our dog and cat models are the best and it is a big deal when they get to be models. They love the hustle and bustle and are more than happy to work for praise and treats. I even give them a great vinyl badge/sticker (see below) when they complete their first shoot with us.

Their humans often get to see and try products before anyone else in the market, and have the thrill of seeing gorgeous photos of their pup or kitty out in the wild for all to see! We truly have fun on these sessions and make sure everyone has a good time.

So, if you think you and your pet would enjoy this, please apply below. We cannot wait to meet you!

(Note for dog moms and dads: We get our awesome vinyl sticker badges from Sticker Mule. We’ve been loving our products and they just released 3 new tools, Trace​​, Upscale​​, & Redraw​​ to help anyone create high-quality images for their own stickers. It’s a fun way to create your own custom stickers or magnets of your pets!)

Want to apply to be a model?

It all starts with an application!

Hound & Purr’s 1st Anniversary Party

Hound & Purr’s 1st Anniversary Party

On Sunday, September 30, 2019, Hound & Purr celebrated their 1st anniversary. The day was busy with 3 events:

1. A dog fashion show put on by the Little White Dog;

2. A meet-and-greet with some of Toronto’s famous pups (Maximillion, Dexter, Prince Louix CXIII, and Java); and,

3. A chow down, hosted by Puppy Gang Fresh Foods in which Arson the Dalmatian came off victorious.

You can click on each photo to see them up close. Enjoy!

Softchoice | dog@work Toronto

Softchoice | dog@work Toronto

I think you would be hard pressed to find a more dog-friendly workplace than the one the folks at Softchoice enjoy. That much is apparent when you first step inside their Liberty Village offices and are greeted by Clyde (pictured below), an impressive presa canario who is, in my estimation, one of the best ‘receptionists’ you will ever have the pleasure to meet. And in case you thought that perhaps there was a mistake, there is a sign on the desk that introduces you to Clyde and assures you that yes, he is meant to be here.

CB2 Dog Photography

The D.O.G. program manages 100+ dogs

It is not really all that surprising when you get to know a little about Softchoice and their take on dog@work.

There are currently over 100 dogs in the D.O.G. program at softchoice, spread out over their 2 buildings located in the Liberty Village hub. As anyone can tell you, that is a lot of dogs! Dogs who interact with each other and the humans around them on a daily basis.

A well thought-out program the key to success

There is a hardworking committee of 6 who oversee the program. There are some basic principles: an application and approval process; everyone should feel comfortable at work, zero tolerance when it comes to bites. These sound great on paper, but how to navigate the pitfalls of fear, allergies, washroom accidents and conflict?

So, how do they make it work? We sat down with the committee members and asked them…

Q – What are the requirements to bring your dog into the office?

Not everyone can just bring their dog into work with them. First to be considered is the human. Every employee must be in-role for at least 3 months before they can apply and must have their manager’s approval.

Then, comes the pup. All dogs must be potty-trained, vaccinated (the core 4), and females in heat cannot come into the office. All potential canine workmates are brought into the office to meet other people and other dogs and assessed on how they behave. If this goes well, dogs are approved.

Q – What about employees who have allergies or a fear of dogs?

Dog-free zones are established within Softchoice and are strictly enforced. Essentially anywhere with a sink (kitchen, lunchroom, gym, bathrooms) is dog-free. There are also dog-free working areas for those who find it uncomfortable or who are fearful of working with dogs.

For those with allergies, some dog-free areas have separate air duct systems and an employee can request to sit there.

Even within areas where dogs are allowed, all dogs must be on leash and connected to something (a desk leg) or someone at all times. They must also be supervised at all times by either the owner or a designated sitter. There is no allowance for inappropriate interactions.

Q – There must be, ahem, ‘accidents’…?

While every pup is potty-trained, accidents can and do occur. It is clearly the responsibility of the owner to clean up. There are clean-up kits (see below) distributed within the offices and 1 bathroom outside designated for this purpose.

Q – What about conflicts?

Softchoice has zero tolerance for biting. Any incident will be investigated and if a bite has occurred, the pup is immediately suspended for 6-12 months. After the time period has elapsed, the owner can request a reassessment, but it will only be considered if rehabilitation or training has taken place during that time. And any dog allowed to reenter the workplace will be on a probationary basis.

The employee complaint system is anonymous and follows a “3 strikes” system for employees found to not be following the rules: a dog not on leash, found in a dog-free zone, or being disruptive to fellow coworkers. Bringing a dog into the workplace is a privilege and employees who cherish it follow the rules.

Sounds great…now, can we meet some pups?

Everyone of the 17 dogs we met and photographed during our visit was a darling. As you will quickly see, Softchoice boasts a pretty awesome interior full of coloured walls, exposed brick, collaboration spaces, nooks and cranies for all…including all those dogs!

The Album – click through to see everyone!

Huge thanks to (in order) Molly, Murphy, Rosie, Gertie, Madison, Murphy, Clyde, Lola, Chili, Ducky, Sushi, Kaiser, Rosa, Q, Myla, Moose, and Kai. And of course the team of PEOPLE at Softchoice who coordinated it all!

Would you like us to come to your offices and photograph your corporate canines or first-rate felines? Contact us to see how you can bring Dog @ Work to your workplace.

Myca, The Director of Happiness |dog@work Toronto

Myca, The Director of Happiness |dog@work Toronto

Lots of organizations in Toronto and the GTA these days participate in Bring Your Dog to Work Day. Some routinely have well-behaved pups in their workplaces each day. But, how many corporate canines actually have a role and a title?

A dog with a corporate job?

I would like to introduce you to Myca who holds the title Director of Happiness at BTI Brand Innovations. Myca is a bernedoodle who, according Parveen Dhupar, Chief Creative Officer, came as part of the ‘package’ when his mum was hired.

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If you thought that Myca’s role was some sort of gimmick, you would be wrong. He is a full-fledged team member. You can find his photo along with the humans in the BTI’s About page and, like every other employee, he has his very own page with his bio. (go ahead, click on his headshot at the bottom of the page. You know you want to.) Sometimes he even sits on a chair to do his important work.

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Has having Myca in the office benefited BTI? It would seem so. Parveen shared that 9 out of 10 clients begin engaging with BTI over a conversation about pets. Talk about some serious ROI!

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Would you recommend organizations integrating dogs into their workspace?

Parveen answered unhesitatingly, Absolutely! Although Myca is currently the only dog at the office, there is no saying that it will always be that way.

(Side note: the HR professional in me has to ask if Myca can claim those reading glasses as part of the company benefit plan 😉 )

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Like any valued employee, Myca participates in regular one-on-ones with the CCO of BTI, Parveen. I hear he receives a great amount of praise and commendation for his willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. And I am sure that, with a smile like that, he is well compensated for his performance.

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I loved spending an afternoon at BTI and talking to them about Myca in the office. They are truly an organization that inspires.

hamilton dog photographer with boy

Would you like us to come to your offices and photograph your corporate canines or first-rate felines? Contact us to see how you can bring Dog @ Work to your workplace.

See Posh Pets in Country Living Magazine | Commercial Pet Photographer

See Posh Pets in Country Living Magazine | Commercial Pet Photographer

Everyone likes to receive nice mail. As in, printed material delivered by the post office. In this digital age, I think there is still something about holding print and paper in your hand.

So, I was very excited to finally receive the latest issue of Country Living. And I would be lying if I didn’t admit that part of the reason was because Posh Pets‘ very own Baxter was featured in it. Yep, he’s a published model now, earning his keep! So, go ahead, purchase a copy and look on page 66 – you can tell all your friends that you knew him first. (Thankfully, Baxter hasn’t let it go to his head – he still such a cuddly sweetheart.)

Country Living magazinecountry living magazine featuring Posh Pets Photography

Paws for Charity – The Book | Canadian Pet Photographer

Paws for Charity – The Book | Canadian Pet Photographer

I am thrilled to announce the book Paws for Charity is now available for purchase! This is a beautiful book that features 90 talented pet photographers from around the world, showcasing their art work and the support they give to shelter animals everywhere. (Hint: if you take a look at page 53, you will find Posh Pets Photography.) Proceeds from the book sales will be donated SHAID (Sheltering Helpless Animals in Distress) Tree Animal Shelter in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.

You have some options for purchasing the book:

E-book form for the iPads and tablet crowd can be purchased here while those who would love paper and ink can purchase a hardcover and softcover versions here. Consider purchasing the hardcover version – I am told that it is gorgeous and a true coffee table book and well worth the upgrade. To help make your decision easier, the one-time use code CSVIP will give you 20% off the book versions if you purchase before April 5, 2013.

So, what are you waiting for?

Calendar Girls & Boys – Canada Pooch Calendar Cuties Photography Shoot | Toronto Pet Studio

Calendar Girls & Boys – Canada Pooch Calendar Cuties Photography Shoot | Toronto Pet Studio

We had planned the date and location for weeks – 10 dogs on October 27, 2012 in High Park, Toronto for their calendar shoot for Canada Pooch. The weeks leading up to the shoot were glorious fall days full of sun, colourful leaves and the crisp fall air. But all that chaged the week of the shoot. For that was the week that “Frankenstorm” decided to make its appearance in Toronto and the eastern seaboard was pumelled by Hurricane Sandy. Copious amounts of rain fell from the sky day after day…

With no time to lose, there was a last minute change in venue to Pawsway (which is an awesome place to take your dog, by the way!). There, we could be inside (read: dry!) and out of the rain (read: warm!). But, it did also mean that we would have to change our plan and have more of a ‘commercial’ look to our images.  The decision was made to photograph them against a white background in line with the Canada Pooch website.

The day arrived and it was pouring cats and dogs outside. But, inside we had so much fun meeting all of the pooches and the pooch-parents who had braved the elements to come. Seeing all of these furry faces dressed up in the latest Canada Pooch outerwear…well, everyone felt like a model! As you can imagine, there was was a lot of excitement in the air as dogs and people were meeting each other for the first time and everyone wanted their pooch to do well. But they needn’t have worried – take a look at the results below and I think you will agree that everyone did marvellously!

Here is a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at what the Posh Pets’ set looked like before everyone arrived…

And here is cover boy, Foley. Or rather, his covers. This beautiful boy managed to get both the front and back pages of the calendar.

The petite Belle who was a last-minute replacement. But, this girl is a natural…took to modelling like she was born for it!
 Charlie, who gave us a run for our money! I am sure that this boy has some border collie in him…this guy loves to move!
 Sweet, little Eva. She was a doll to work with!  But, she is wearing a top secret style that is part of the Canada Pooch so her image will be ‘revealed’ later…

Leo likes to do tricks – and he showed us quite a few! Here he is, executing his awesome paw shake.

We tried for a “looking back” shot with all of the dogs. But it was Lucy who rocked this angle!
 The following brothers were Malbec and Pinto (someone loves wine!). Here, Malbec shows us his serious, GQ look…
…while brother Pinot is an absolute ham!
We also met a pair of sisters, both sporting the soon-t0-be released Canada Pooch styles. All I can tell you is that Lucy strutted her stuff in yellow…

…whereas Poppy liked the feel of the wind in her hair!

And here was little Sacha, who was probably the calmest of the group. She just sat and posed for us!

How can you get your hands on these images (including the ‘secret’ ones)? The calendars are available for $20.00 each from Canada Pooch directly and 10% of proceeds will go to Toronto Animal Services. If you are interested, please contact Canada Pooch directly at support@canadapooch.com by November 30, 2012. They will give you all of the details! It is a great deal – some great dog imagery and a way to help the TAS take care of less fortunate doggies!

Professor Meowingtons | Toronto Celebrity Pet Photographer

Professor Meowingtons | Toronto Celebrity Pet Photographer

It is not everyday that Posh Pets is called upon to photograph a celebrity (we are not “pup-parazzi”!), but we got the opportunity a few weeks ago when we were asked to photograph Professor Meowingtons. For the uninitiated, Meowingtons is the happy feline belonging to Joel Zimmerman, who is more famously known as Deadmau5. According to my most recent look at his facebook page, Professor Meowingtons has 99,997 fans! So yes…he is kind of a big deal.

He is also a lovely cat. I hope I am not ruining his reputation here (not sure of his preferred on-line persona), but in person he is a gorgeous, cuddly, totally chill kitty. He was the most lovely host on the day we descended upon his home and graciously allowed us to set up lights and a background, and photograph him for a special project. No, I do not know all of the details of the project. But, this I do know – Professor Meowingtons lives a good life with Deadmau5.

We were asked to produce some images of Meowingtons, on white seamless, staring hard at the camera as well as a few profiles. So, nothing too fancy. But, I am very happy to share one of my favourite images of him. Enjoy!