Rescue work has many facets: shelter, medical care, volunteers to exercise and socialize the animals, food and water, and foster homes. But there’s one more area that must be mastered in order to get orphaned pets into good homes:


Most shelters these days are using to showcase their adoptable pets. It’s a great resource that combines two elements: photos and a written biography. This article will focus on 8 tips that ANYONE can use to improve their pet’s pics.

Saturday, I met up with CARE and Out of the Woods at Dickey-Stevens Park where Arkansas Youth Home was holding a fundraiser. The two rescue organizations were showing their adoptable dogs  to the public outside the stadium.

The first dog I met was Maria, who illustrates tip number 1:

1. Accessorize 

Maria’s foster mom, Michelle, is a veteran at this. She’s been fostering dogs for fifteen years and in that time, fifty dogs have passed through her house. Although Michelle prefers to “let dogs be dogs”, she added the flower for curb appeal.

In the eyes of a potential adopter, a dog looks like just another stray until you give it some accessories and a catchy name. THEN, it looks like your next family member.

Up next was Stephie, a calm brunette who stayed next to her handler the whole time, mostly lounging in the warm sunshine. Calmness is a trait most adopters are looking for when they visit a shelter.

2. Take Photos when the Dog is Calm. Even if you have to catch them sleeping.

3. Try an Extreme Close-up

One of the friendliest dogs at the park was Dutchess, who posed beautifully for me:

I LOVE the extreme close-up shot of her face. You really see into her eyes.

Bonus: the “Adopt Me” bandana is a nice touch. It lets passers-by knows she is adoptable, and also plays on the obsession we humans have with putting words in the mouths of babies and animals. LOLCats is a perfect example:

For this same reason, it’s a great idea to write an adoptable animal’s bio from the animal’s perspective. I’ll cover bio writing in next week’s post.

Remember Stephie? Her sister Willow was also in attendance. Like her sister, she is very quiet and subdued.

4. Black Dogs: Spread them out and use bright accessories

Black dogs can be difficult to photograph, but bright accessories like this pink bandana add color variation, making the picture more interesting. If you are showcasing two black animals (or any two animals who look alike), use accessories to distinguish them as much as possible and never put them side-by-side.

5. Get Down on Their Level

Squatting down over and over will turn your legs to jelly, but it’s worth it to get these great eye-to-eye shots!

6. Use Size Comparison

The photo of JoeJoe running with his handler is important because when you place a dog next to a human, the viewer can more easily determine the dog’s size.

Thelma is an all-around great dog. She looks like she’s smiling in every picture and is very comfortable being petted and handled.

7. Show Human Interaction

Thelma just soaks up attention!

8. Showcase Their Talent

Jasper and his foster dad, Will, showed me his “sit” command. Obeying commands is a great point to have on your adoptable dog’s resume.

This post could go on and on with photo tips, but these eight are enough to get you started. Please add more tips in the comments section.

Next time, we’ll tackle writing bios.

If you want to read more about Stephie, JoeJoeWillow, Maria, Thelma, or Jasper just click on their names.

Click here to read my post about writing bios for adoptable dogs.


3 responses »

  1. […] week, I wrote 7 tips for taking photos that get dogs adopted. Most shelters (13,759 to be exact) are using to showcase their adoptable pets, which […]

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