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Black and white dog catching treat with text reading "ready, set, chomp! what a treat!" as a graphic next to it.

Caught In The Act: Ridiculous And Hilarious Treat-Catching Portraits

by | Nov 4, 2022

What’s the one awesome thing we all need to do to stay alive?! Eat! Dogs too! And it’s one of the most expressive and funny ways to capture your dog in the studio:
catching a treat mid-air!

The idea of a dog’s teeth out, eyes rolled back and cheeks a flappin’ is nothing new. It’s been trendy in the pet photography world since Christian Vieler made it popular.

So what does it take to create this kind of drool-drops-flying magic?

Is it for you? Well …

Can your dog catch treats?!!

If no, then it’s going to be difficult to get these shots. If you’ve seen that viral dog where the owner would lob all sorts of food at it, only for the food to slap it in the face? Yeah. Probably wouldn’t make for the best photos.

So you have a dog that won’t win a catch contest anytime soon. Don’t worry, there’s hope for you yet.

It’s trainable!

Lucky for me, the daycare we took Mucca to when he was but a wee boy, worked on his treat catching skills on our behalf. So you can always take that route.

And now it’s one of his favorite pastimes!

Nola was another story, of course. Luckily, I realized pretty quickly that she would try to catch toys in her mouth!

Here’s how I did it:
Nola the brown and white dog staring off to the right at a treat she is failing to catch.
“What am I supposed to do with this treat and why isn’t it in my mouth?” – Nola
  1. I’d take the biggest stuffed animal I could find and start by standing over her. Then I’d drop it into her mouth until she got the idea.
  2. Slowly, I’d back up a hair and toss/drop.
  3. Then I’d back up another hair. Toss.
  4. Then I’d back up a handful of hairs. Toss. Toss. Toss, until she was catching toys from a few feet away.
  5. Then I started the whole process again but with a big slice of mortadella. It didn’t hurt when it landed over her face, plus it’s pretty tasty so she didn’t mind.
  6. Back up, but with a slice of scamorza affumicata (smoked cheese!) Toss and toss again.
  7. Then, with a chunk of carrot (all the mortadella and scamorza was getting to be a bit too much for my waistline…I mean HERS!! I definitely wasn’t working on my form too….nope. No.)
  8. Back up but this time with the grand finale: a tiny floaty bit of popcorn.

And voila!

Once the skill is learned, then all you need is a talented photographer, with fantastic red hair and the know how to use a flash to freeze those cheeks flapping. I just so happen to know one (eh hemmm…I’m talking about me).

How to prepare for a treat-catching session:

Now, there’s only one thing left to do before arriving at your session.

Don’t feed them!!

It probably goes without saying, there will be lots of treats inhaled at a session like this. It takes a lot of coordination and treats missed to capture good photos for all those fun expressions. They should arrive hungry.

That really applies to almost all sessions, especially if your pet is very treat-driven. But I also don’t want any upset tummies either. No one wants to see a puke frozen in time. Or maybe you do. Depends on what you’re into.

If you have any other methods for training treat catching, drop them in the comments! I’d love to know what worked for you and your pup!

I’ll provide the snacks

You provide the dog!


KEEP IT GOING!

This post is part of a blog circle of some of the most uber-talented pet photographers all over the world. Keep reading to see what dog action moves other dogs are doing in front of the other photographers’ lenses.

Up next: Angela Schneider of Big White Dog Photography in Spokane, Washington, loves seeing your dog do dog things in a photo session.

Follow the circle until you land back on this page. Enjoy!

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9 Comments
  1. Kim

    I have yet to master the treat catching photos. They’re hard imo!

    Reply
    • THE Carol Mudra

      Definitely tricky. Luckily, I have a willing model at home who’s more than happy to welcome a constant stream of treats flying into his mouth!! Also…throwing underhand under the lens helps place the heads a bit better when they catch, but also, I had to work on my tossing-arm form!

      Reply
  2. Angela

    Wait … were you pilfering cheese from the dogs?!??!? Eh, I probably would scarf a few bites for myself too. Because CHEESE.

    Reply
    • THE Carol Mudra

      DON’T TELL THEM!!! If they knew I performed such atrocities, they’d take away my bed and furniture privileges.

      Reply
  3. Nicole

    hahahaha I love these and your treat-catching tips!

    Reply
    • THE Carol Mudra

      Thanks! I definitely need to get Nola back into the studio to show off her new skills!!! It’s been a while.

      Reply
  4. Terri

    I love these photos – something for me to try!!

    Reply
    • THE Carol Mudra

      Definitely give it a go! Even if it doesn’t work out right away, it’s still a bunch of laughs just trying to get all of the timing to align!!

      Reply
  5. Jessica

    I am dying at some of these expressions! These deserve to be printed huge for all the daily entertainment and happiness they’ll bring!

    Reply
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