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Creative Ideas and Tips for Including Pets in Your Holiday Card Photo

Dogs dressed up for the holidays

When you’re a pet lover, your furry friend is a part of the family, which often means including them in your holiday festivities. A popular tradition during this time of year is to send holiday cards or photos to loved ones. According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), 70% of people put their pet’s name on greeting cards.

If you plan to include your pet in your holiday cards, use these tips and tricks to help things go smoothly. And if you’re feeling creative, put a unique spin on your holiday greetings to leave a lasting impression.

Clever Ways to Include Your Pet in Your Holiday Cards

You can always go with the standard family photo on your holiday cards. Sharing a picture of your family is a special memento and a great way to update family and friends you haven’t seen for a while. But if you’re looking for some clever ways to include your dog or cat, check out these fun ideas.

1. Coordinate Your Colors in Your Holiday Photo

Whether opting for a traditional family portrait or something different, coordinating colors is a great way to tie everything together. Select a couple of colors that go well together (it doesn’t have to be red and green). 

Have everyone in the photo wear those colors, including your furry friend. If your pup or kitty isn’t a fan of dressing up, keep things simple with a coordinating collar, bowtie, or bandana.

2. Let Your Pet Steal the Show

Here’s a great tip if you dread being in holiday pictures. Let your pet take center stage and handle the season's greetings for you. 

Snap some fun candid or posed photos of your pet in front of a festive holiday background. You can find some great digital photo backgrounds on Etsy if you’re making your own cards. If your friends and family know how much you idolize your pet, they’ll understand this photo choice perfectly.

3. Sign the Card with a Paw Print

Another fun way to include your pet in your holiday cards is through the signature. When you sign everyone’s name, include your pet’s paw print. Use a non-toxic ink pad or get a customized paw print stamp if you plan to send lots of cards.

4. Choose a Theme for Your Holiday Card

Instead of a standard pose and the expected attire, choose a fun theme for your holiday cards. Go with a theme that makes it easy to include your dog or cat. 

For example, dress your pup as Santa Claus and let your family dress in elf outfits. Or maybe everyone dressed as gingerbread cookies and your cat’s wearing a chef hat. Get creative and have fun with it. Choose a theme that works well with how you celebrate the holidays.

5. Go with A Humorous Holiday Photo

Capture your pet doing something that is classically “them.” Maybe you catch your dog sticking their nose in a stocking or your cat shredding a roll of wrapping paper. Embrace the mischief and send everyone a holiday chuckle.

6. Get Clever with Your Message

Another fun way to add your pets to holiday cards is with clever text. Send a pet-forward message that features a fun play on words. For example, “We Woof You a Merry Christmas,” “Happy Howl-nukkah,” “Meow-y Christmas,” “Happy Howlidays,” etc.

Cats in a sleigh

Tricks and Tips for Taking Holiday Pictures with Your Pet

Now that you know what you want in your holiday card, it’s time to figure out the best way to take them. Capturing a fantastic photo of your pet is often easier said than done, especially if your dog or cat isn’t in the mood for pictures. These helpful tips can save you from a lot of holiday headaches and hassles.

1. Use a Photographer That Works with Pets

One of the best ways to take the stress out of your holiday photo shoot is to use a professional photographer that works with pets. Not every pro has experience snapping pics of furry family members, so seek out one that specializes in pet portraits or specifically advertises pet photos.

2. Exercise and Play with Your Pet Before the Photo Shoot

Before the photo shoot, have a lengthy play session with your pet, take them for a walk, and make sure they get plenty of exercise. A few creative exercises with your cat or an energetic run with your dog will help them stay calmer during the photo session.

3. Make Sure Your Pet Gets a Potty Break Before Pictures Start

Allow your pet time for an adequate potty break before you start taking pictures. Your pet will be more comfortable, and you won’t have to worry about unexpected messes interrupting the photo session.

4. Enlist the Help of a Friend to Keep Your Pet’s Attention

Whether you’re taking the pictures or you’re working with a pro, ask a trusted friend that your pet knows to help with the shoot. An extra set of hands is helpful. And your friend can help distract your pet or catch their attention for specific shots.

5. Have Treats and Toys Ready

A professional photographer will likely have a few items to help grab your pet’s attention. But bring along some of your pet’s favorite toys and treats to help keep them motivated. 

If your pet stresses easily, let them lick a treat mat or a treat-filled toy like the Rolly Cannoli. Licking encourages the release of endorphins which helps calm your pet. (Bring along some wet wipes to clean up a messy mouth or paws.)

6. Keep a Fur Remover within Arm’s Reach

Make sure everyone stays looking their best and clothes and backdrops stay pet hair free. Have a fur remover, like the FurDozer, on hand to quickly clean up loose hairs, fuzz, and other dirt and debris.

7. Work in Short Spurts

The key to a successful smooth photo session with pets is to keep it short and sweet. If you need more time, then be prepared to take breaks every few minutes. However, a professional photographer that works with pets should be able to capture some stellar photos quickly.

8. Let Your Pet Adapt to Their Surroundings

Before jumping right into taking pictures, let your pet explore the area first. This gets the excitement of a new place, things, and people out of the way before your pet’s expected to behave and cooperate.

That’s A Wrap!

Including your pet in your holiday cards is a fun way to make your furry family member a part of your holiday tradition. But go into the photo shoot with a clear plan and use a professional photographer that works with pets if at all possible.

If your pet has a tough time with strangers or people coming over, take time to work with them first. Several weeks before the session, begin training your pet to greet guests and stay calm around people. These are important skills for your pet to have anyway, so it’s well worth the effort. Happy Holidays!

For more helpful tips on caring for your pets and how to make the most of the season with your pets, check out the Neater Pets blog


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