Pet Photos with Santa: Tips, Tricks, and Trips (plus photo ops in Ontario)

Hohoho it’s that time of year again – Holiday Pet Picture Time! Last year was a bust, so we didn’t get many photos of our precious pups celebrating the 2020 holidays – which was a disappointment for me, because that was my fur baby’s first snow covered holiday. She experienced it at the ripe old age of three months.

Fortunately, I did get one outdoor photo shoot done last year. My puppy spent her time crawling over the photographer. Hey, you get down on the ground, it’s playtime! My dog has no problem loving the energy of pet photo events at three months old, or even now.

But that’s not true for all dogs.

Pet Photos with Santa Considerations

Before you take your dog out to a public pet photo event, consider how they react in a crowded public place. Most pet photo events are fundraisers for rescues, so they try and move through as many clients as possible through a winding line. Or shopping mall photos-with-Santa companies are recognizing the lucrative fur-baby market and providing photo opportunities to four-footed clients at select times.

Either way, crowded rooms can be stressful for timid pups – they’re with other people and animals, then handed to a stranger to pose with. They’re encouraged to look at a camera, sometimes with a flash (though professional photographers will set up lights and forgo the flash) and be comfortable with it all. Not all dogs blossom in this situation.

Ask yourself, is your dog ok with new?
  • New people
  • New animals
  • New environments
  • And being handled by strangers?

The chaos is mitigated a bit this year. Thanks to the 2021 global situation, most photo events are scheduling time slots rather than the usual flood of first come first serve patrons, which might help. Maybe this process will become a standard and a welcome change for slightly timid pups.

However, sometimes that’s even too much. Sometimes a private studio photoshoot is a preferable option – but that will cost more. And it won’t be a charity event – unless you’re using a local photographer donating a percentage to rescues. Many do. Check out dogtrotting dog events for year round fun.

Pet Photos with Santa: Here We Come!

However, if your pet loves adventure and company like mine does, heading to public pet events is more desirable than ever. This year (2021), the pet rescues and shelters need our support after a year or more away from public event fundraising efforts.

Many organizations are accommodating health restrictions and hosting events that should go smoothly, thanks to time ticket purchases and limited capacity.

I know I’ll be making up for lost opportunity and filling my album (and hard drive) with images of my black and white Spaniel cross looking impressive against vibrant red and white backgrounds.

Here’s a dogtrotting.net round-up of Pet Photo events (hopefully) near you. If not, there’s always dog-friendly hotels nearby – make a weekend of it. We will!

NOTE: Most of these listings require advance registration:

Holiday Pet Photos – Ontario, Canada

Hamilton (Ancaster), Ontario – Pet Photos with Santa

When: November 20, and 27, 2021 – 10 am to 2 pm

Where: Ren’s Pet Depot, 821 Golf Links Rd., Unit 10, Ancaster

Why: All Proceeds to the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA

Cost: $10 for photos

Owen Sound, Ontario – Pet Photos with Santa (Santa and Pets Only)

When: November 27, 2021 – 10 am to 2 pm

Where: Pet Value, 856 10th St W., Owen Sound

Who: Owen Sound Animal Shelter

Why: All Proceeds to Owen Sound Animal Shelter

Cost: $20

Sarnia, Ontario – Pet Photos with Santa

When: November 27, 2021 – 11 am to 3 pm

Where: Lambton Mall, 1380 London Road, Sarnia, Ontario

Who: Simply Fetching Fur-tography

Why: Sarnia Humane Society

Cost: $20 to 30

When: November 29 and 30, 2021 – 6 to 8 pm

Where: Erin Mills Town Centre, 5100 Erin Mills Parkway, Toronto

Why: Special times available for pets (must pre-book)

Cost: varies by package

Kingston, Ontario – Christmas Pictures with Pets

When: December 4, 2021 – book spot via maple.leaf.kennel.club@gmail.com

Where: Teamwork Canine Centre, 1121 John Counter Blvd., Kingston, Ontario

Who: Maple Leaf Kennel Club

Why: All Proceeds to the Maple Leaf Kennel Club

Cost: $25

Ottawa, Ontario – Pet Photos with Santa

When: December 4, 2021 – 11 am to 3 pm

Where: Ren’s Pet Depot, 1385 Baseline Road, Ottawa, Ontario

Who: Jodi Sooley Photography

Why: All Proceeds to the English Bulldog Rescue of Ontario

Cost: $10 for photos and $10 for nail trims

Ancaster, Ontario – Pet Photos at Pet Lovers’ Market

When: Saturday, December 4, 2021 – 10 am to 4 pm

Where: Ancaster Fairgrounds, 630 Trinity Road, Ancaster, Ontario

Who: Donna Waxman Photography and Kristen Avery

Why: Benefitting the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA

Cost: $20 per photo. $35 for two photos. Plus $5 admission to show – advanced purchase

Bolton, Ontario – Pet Photos with Santa

When: December 4 and 5, 2021 – 12 to 4 pm

Where: Rovili Pet World, 9 Nixon Road., Bolton, Ontario

Who: Michelle Mackenzie

Cost: $25

Brampton, Ontario – Photos with Santa special pet days

When: December 4 and 11, 2021 – 4 to 5 pm

Where: Shoppers World Brampton, 499 Main Street S, Brampton, Ontario

Cost: $?

Hamilton, Ontario – Pet Photos with Santa

When: December 5, 2021 – 12 to 5 pm

Where: Grain & Grit Beer Co., 11 Ewen Road, Hamilton

Who: Bark at the Moon

Why: All Proceeds to Bark at the Moon Animal Rescue

Cost: $?

Guelph, Ontario – Furry Family Pet Photos with Santa

When: Sunday, December 12, 2021 – 7 pm to 9 pm

Where: Stone Road Mall, 435 Stone Road West, Guelph

Why: All Proceeds to the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA

Cost: $35 for photos. Appointments required.

Tips for Making Pet Photo Experience Awesome

  • Groom your pet and bring a brush to the photoshoot
  • Bring a toy they love to keep them busy while waiting (assuming no other pets are close by) and use it to get their attention during the photoshoot
  • Practice with any costumes or accessories before you get to the photoshoot
  • Run or walk your dog before the photoshoot
  • Use sit and stay commands during the photoshoot
  • Tell Santa how to hold your pet or where he likes to be rubbed (your dog, not Santa)
  • Be prepared to hold your dog in the shoot if necessary
  • Have reasonable expectations – Fun is better than stressful

Other pets-with-Santa photo opportunities throughout Canada and the US:

CANADA

Many shopping malls in Toronto, Ontario are scheduling special days (and evenings) for pets with Santa photos. Check out the list here on Toronto Dog Moms   

Anywhere near Vancouver, British Columbia or Langley, British Columbia? Check out The Dog Network’s extensive listing of pet photo opportunities here.

Spruce it Up Garden Centre in Calgary, Alberta is hosting pet photos with Santa. Check it out here. Also in Calgary thanks to Doodle Dogs Inc. is this pet photo opportunity. In Edmonton, Alberta the Greater Edmonton Animal Rescue is hosting a pet photo event. Check it out here.

Wooftopia is hosting this pet photo event in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

USA

Michigan, particularly around the Oakland area, offers many opportunities for holiday pet pics this year. Check out this list from Oakland County Moms.

If you happen to be in Austin, Texas near the Aboretum, every Saturday until the end of December you can have your pet’s pic taken with Santa, benefiting a seniors with pets program. Check it out here.

Thanks to Seattle Dog Spot, here’s your listing of many holiday pet pic opportunities in Seattle, Washington.

In Erie, Pennsylvania, The Millcreek Mall is opening their doors on select dates for furry family members to take advantage of pics with a mall Santa. Check out times and dates here. Also, in Erie, PA: if you prefer the Grinch instead of Santa (and who doesn’t?) check out this pet photo opportunity hosted by a mortgage company.

In Greece, New York State, Pet Supplies Plus is hosting a pet photo event in support of a local rescue. Check it out here. The same rescue is organizing photos in Rochester, New York also at a pet store. See here. If Dunkirk, New York is closer to you, check out this photo event in support of the local SPCA.

Hosted by an area groomer, here’s a holiday pet photo opportunity in Geneva, Ohio. Information here.

PetSmart across the USA is hosting FREE pet with Santa photo opportunities. Check out this page and enter your city to find out if you’re one of the lucky ones!

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