What I Learned About Dog Photography and Grooming from Attending the Beverly Hills Dog Show

Some show dog preening and primping tips can actually be applied to regular dog owners.

It's not my first rodeo — and, by rodeo, I mean dog show. Attending the Beverly Hills Dog Show Presented By Purina was a different experience than past dog shows I've attended, if purely for the event's California glam added to the standard pup preening and primping. Personally — and I'm fine to admit this — my dog is not even close to calm enough to be near a hot beauty tool like a flat iron, nor does his coat need it.

So, for the purpose of this post, I'm not talking about dogs with coats that take more time than human hair to fix up, I'm talking about things we can do at home with our everyday pooches. I took my notes of what I saw handlers doing while grooming and also how they acted when I went to take a picture, and attempted the several tricks at home once I returned to NYC. Here's what I saw ... and tried:

Hairspraying dogs and teasing hair like it's 1985.

These dogs are very well trained and not really left alone to lick themselves but I couldn't help but worry about a dog licking his fur with gels and hairsprays on it. Many did smooth the hair with a slicker brush afterwards, or use a towel, but I still couldn't help but worry about the chemicals.

My takeaway: I'd save the hairspray for a retro party and got the job done with a spray bottle of water and a paper towel pat down. Sure, it won't last in a wind tunnel or for prom so, if your dog is going to either of those things on the regular, you're on your own.

Toothbrushes being used NOT on teeth.

That's right, I spotted at least five toothbrushes during the two-day event ... but none of those were used on teeth. I saw them used to slick stray spots on the face, especially around the eyes, nose, and mouth. (No word on if "fairy frost" was also used on that tool.)

My takeaway: I took a new toothbrush from an in-flight amenity kit and tried to give him little brushes on his fur. He tolerated it for about 20 seconds before trying to play grab-it with the toothbrush. So, pass. If there was something I needed to get on a small part of my pooch that I couldn't use a finger to apply, sure, I'd try this again but for now I'm keeping the human dental products for my teeth.

People feeding dogs food they took out of their open mouths.

I'm going to let you read that one more time for it to sink in: I saw people feeding dogs food they took out of their open mouths. I admit, I had a lot of judgment on this one but I got over it pretty quickly. It's not like they had a piece of kibble in their mouths; the people I talked to had lunch meat or other human food items. 

My takeaway: I tried this at home with a baby carrot and my dog was entranced. Then I spit an ice cube into my hand (his most favorite treat) and he was still excited. I'm not sure he was more excited by this than if I got either out of the fridge so I'm going to pass on this long-term. However, if you get down on dog level and do this, you can get a pretty phenomenal pic.

So, SO many 'fakeout' throws.

This is one trick you'll see if you've ever watched just five minutes of a dog show in the past — or when you tune in on Sunday to this show. It's when the handler takes the hand that's not holding the dog lead and pretends to toss something from that hand away from herself (and toward the judge or in the direction she wants the pup to look). 

My takeaway: I tried this at home with my pup and a friend and camera. It really does work, but only when you have someone else standing by where you are fake throwing to take the picture. After a few times, my dog got wise to it so I'd suggest grabbing a friend and getting the camera or phone ready ... and only counting on a few "takes."

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