Caitlin UltimoHolidays / Pet Parenting

Prepping for Pet Pictures With Santa

How to Prepare for Pet Photos With Santa

If taking your kids to see Santa during the holidays is an annual tradition, you may consider sharing the joy of meeting the man in the red suit with your furry friend. Pet pictures with Santa can be a fun and magical way to kick-start your holidays—not to mention that Santa pet photos make the best holiday cards!

Before you plan your pet photoshoot with Santa, make a mental checklist of things that will help prepare your fur baby for the big day with St. Nick. Here are a few tips:

Put Yourself in Your Pet’s Paws

The holiday craze can be overwhelming, especially for your pet. With crowds flocking to shopping malls and people dressing up in various costumes, it’s not unusual for pets to be a little intimidated by the masses and overwhelmed by all of the Christmas spirit. If the environment is too stressful for your furry friend, think about calling stores ahead of time to check when lighter crowds are to be expected. You can also giving some calming treats to your pet beforehand to reduce any anxiety he may experience.

If you know your pet won’t do well in public, you can get a pet Santa costume and have a family member capture your pet posing in a pet photoshoot at home.

Familiarize Your Pet With Strangers

If you do decide to venture out, Sally Morgan, a holistic physical therapist for pets and people, recommends that you familiarize your pet with strangers, so the entire experience is not as stressful for you and your fur baby. “Some pets are timid, some barky and some just plain shy when meeting new people,” Sally explains. Have people that your pet doesn’t know stop by for a visit and have them give your pet lots of their favorite treats to start the process of familiarization; this will help make the entire Santa pet photoshoot encounter go smoother.

Sally also urges pet parents to consider what their pet’s behavior around other animals will be like. “If your dog is not comfortable around others, you can bring a crate for the waiting process, or you can have a friend wait in line for you while you walk your pet away from the line full of other pets,” explains Sally. Be aware of the fact that a line full of dressed-up animals may cause your pet more anxiety than usual.

Dress Your Pet to Impress

Though it’s not necessary that your pet get all dolled up to see Santa, it may be fun to get your pup into a festive mood by dressing him in a holiday-themed collar, cozy knit sweater or a pair of reindeer ears! Plus, a special outfit is guaranteed to make you and your close ones smile every time you look back at your pet pictures with Santa. If you are bringing your pet in a costume for the photo, Sally suggests “practicing wearing the costume at home for short periods of time, so it does not make your pet nervous on the big day with Santa,” and consider putting the costume on just before photo time, rather than having your pet lounging around in it. Whatever attire you end up choosing, it’s a good idea to groom your furry family member and bathe him before his pet photoshoot—Santa will surely be thankful. A great tool for grooming is the FURminator Long Hair deShedding Edge For Dogs, which allows you to brush through your dog’s coat easily to gently remove loose hairs without damaging your pup’s delicate skin.

Take a Walk to Calm the Nerves

Sometimes the best way to get your pet to obey is to take a long walk. This will help relax and tire out your furry friend to make sure he’s calm and relaxed for the big meeting with Santa. A walk may also help your pet sit calmly while waiting in line to get his picture taken, and also gives you one more reason to brave the cold and step out into that winter wonderland before heading for the Santa pet photos! If you or your dog are not up for some fresh air, consider Pet Naturals of Vermont Calming Dog Chews, which will help your dog relax without sedation or a change in personality. For cat owners, the Sentry HC Good Behavior Pheromone Cat Calming Collar will have a similar effect to calm your kitty and reduce stress-related behavior such as marking and clawing.

Get Your Pet’s Attention

Candid photos are cute, but so are those big, puppy dog eyes we like to see in our pet photos. To get your faithful friend to pose perfectly and look at the camera, try using a noisemaker. Nothing will get your pet’s attention like a squeak or crinkle from his favorite toy. Another way to capture your furry friend’s attention is to stand behind the photographer and motion to him to look at the camera. Sometimes all your pet needs is a little encouragement from his favorite human!

Safety Tips for Santa Pet Pictures

When taking your pet to see Santa, it’s important that you keep certain safety tips in mind so that both you and your furry friend can enjoy the entire experience. While it is essential that your pet feels comfortable, you should make sure that others feel just as safe and relaxed when working with your pet on set. Here are a few things to keep in mind before picture day:

  • Use a Leash, Harness or Carrier. Even if you trust your own pet to behave off-leash, other pets might not, and it’s always a good idea to keep your pet restrained both for their own safety and that of others around them. “If you bring a cat, it’s a good idea to have a harness in case a jumpy dog frightens her. You don’t want to lose your pet in a mall or large retail store. Even small pups should be in a dog harness and leash before you let them out of their carrier or even from your pet sling to make sure that you have them safely with you at all times,” explains Sally.
  • Teach Your Pet Basic Commands. Make pet pictures with Santa an easier and safer experience by training your furry friend to respond to you on command. A simple “Sit,” “Stay” or “Off” will both guarantee good photos and safety for those around your pet. Erin Askeland, CPDT-KA, Training Manager at Camp Bow Wow, urges pet parents to be mindful of their pets’ needs and explains that “Not all pets will be comfortable enough to be handed off to Santa, so don’t force your pet to sit on Santa’s lap.” Instead, she suggests letting your pet sit next to Santa on the floor to ensure the safety of all parties involved in the pet photoshoot. If your furry friend is reluctant to trust the man in the big red suit right off the bat, Erin recommends you ask Santa to drop a few treats on the floor for your pet to take, so the two can get familiar with one another.

Having recently moved from rainy Oregon to the sunshine state, Anastasiya Chevtchenko spends her time catching rays by the beach, playing soccer with the locals, and embracing pet heaven – Chewy. A recent Penn graduate, Anastasiya works in Marketing where she hopes to bring in her expertise in international relations to expand the business. When she’s not facetiming her international friends or reading the news in five languages, Anastasiya spends her time working on PR projects, social media brand posts, and writing for Chewy’s Pet Central blog.