Before & After: No Need to Go Off-Leash

The misconception that your dog must be able to be off-leash for a successful pet photography session is one that I’ve covered in past blog posts as well as a concern that I addressed in my marketing pieces, throughout my client guide, and during the pre-session consultation. Still, there are a number of pet parents who just can’t convince themselves to commit to a session due to the leash issue. (By the way, if that sounds like you, take a moment to check out this post.)

First, let me reassure you that at no point during your session does your dog need to be off-leash. I’ll say it again: your dog can remain leashed! In fact, unless you place 110% trust in your pup’s recall, I actually prefer he stays leashed, primarily for safety as well as for the added control that a leash can provide, for instance, in keeping your dog where we’d like him for specific shots. For some locations, it’s non-negotiable that dogs be leashed due to local rules and regulations.

So how in the world can you get those off-the-leash images you see in my portfolio and throughout my website? Why, the magical powers of Photoshop, of course! To illustrate how seamlessly leashes can be removed from a variety of images, check out the following before-and-after comparisons.

young puppy at Mingo Creek Park before and after a leash removal
Siberian retriever in a creek at Mingo Creek Park before and after a leash removal

Here are a few suggestions to minimize the appearance of a leash and make my job in removing it during post-processing a little easier.

  1. Position yourself off to the side and always hold the leash away from your dog.
  2. Keep the leash taunt without allowing it to pull on the collar, which can add a separate issue that will then need fixed in Photoshop.
  3. Whenever possible, avoid allowing the leash to drape over the dog’s body, as shown in the following image of Ellie. While this can usually be removed during post-processing, depending on the color and pattern of a dog’s fur, it can become difficult and even unnatural-looking. 
white golden retriever on a bridge at Brady's Run Park before and after a leash removal

If I’ve eased your fear that your dog must be photographed off-leash and you’re ready to book your session, there’s no better time! My spring calendar is now open and registration for 2019’s first Fine Art Pawtrait Sessions will be opening in just a few weeks. Let’s get your best friend on my calendar and make this the year you celebrate the joy and love between you and your pet! Click here to learn more how you can get a $500 product credit and begin the booking process today.


This post is a part of the Pet Photography 52 Weeks project blog circle. To see what the next pawesome photographer is sharing for the weekly theme, “Before & After,” check out Jo Lyons Photography, the down-to-earth dog loving photographer for cherished dogs of Sydney, Central Coast, Newcastle, and the Great Lakes Region of NSW. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle until you eventually find your way back here.

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15 thoughts on “Before & After: No Need to Go Off-Leash

    1. Thanks, Jo! Despite his young age, he did a fantastic job. There’s always such fun in my Puppy Love Sessions–you never quite you know what you’re going to get.

    1. Honestly, the shot of Ellie wasn’t that difficult to work with. The bridge area was worse than the fur during the removal!

  1. Great tips, Jessica. Lovely edits. I always keep dogs on leashes as well, unless they are in the studio, and sometimes even then a slip lead is a good tool to keep a dog in place.

    1. I agree! Just because a leash benefits most dogs over having them roam free doesn’t mean they’re bad dogs or that they can’t listen. As you said, safety first–and then there’s always the ease in adding that bit of control with positioning the pups.

  2. Great post. That puppy looks very cuddleable…..is that a word? I love Ellis smile too. That lead would have been a nightmare to edit out! Great job!

  3. Love the images and terrific job with the leashes, especially the one with the puppy running – the leash takes on a life of it’s own and it’s amazing how tangled up it can get and all the places it can go! LOL

    1. Thanks, Tracy! Thankfully that one removed quite easily, but you’re so right on action shots. Sometimes those long leads come in handy better for those situations.

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