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Hello Benebone fam! This week’s post is coming to you from @emwng. I’ve been a part of the Benebone team (or should I say, Kokoro and Chibi have), shooting content and testing out new products for the past few years.

We’re so grateful to have such a strong community of Benebone-lovin’ pups on Instagram. Today we’re going to share with you some tips on how to take the best photos of your dog!

Master the sit & stay

Teaching your dog a very solid sit and stay will make your life as a photographer much easier. This seems like a no-brainer, but it definitely takes time to achieve. Once your dog has a good “sit,” work on impulse control and teach them to ignore distractions that may come up during a shoot. Throw treats and toys at your pup, suddenly start running away, walk away to where they can’t see you, you name it. Your pup should keep staying until they hear their release command.

This is something we’ve continually worked on over the years with Kokoro and Chibi and is even more essential when you want to take group photos with other dogs.

Teach your dog to bark

We like using the “bark” command to get the dogs to change up their expressions. You can use the “burst” mode to capture your pup’s face as they bark to get some fun expressions out of it!

Know your dogs’ trigger words

One of the things we run into a lot with the pups when we’re photographing them “in the wild” is their ears fold back as they’re listening to all of the things going on around them. I like photographing them when their ears are pointed forward towards the camera — it just looks much cuter!

To get them to point their ears forward, I use some of their favorite words or phrases, such as, “Do you guys want to…” or “Is it time for a treat?”

If I’m lucky, I’ll even get a head tilt out of asking them a question!

Use squeakers and sounds to your advantage

On top of knowing your dogs’ favorite phrases that get them to pay attention to you, you can also keep a squeaker in your pocket or learn how to make animal sounds to get your pup to look your way. This works especially well if you have a dog who is toy motivated.

Our dogs are super food motivated so this sometimes doesn’t work for them, but you know your dog best so use what he loves the most to get his attention throughout your shoots.

Use treats / peanut butter to get funny facial expressions 

This is one of our favorite tricks! Put some peanut butter, yogurt, or honey on your dog’s nose and shoot away with burst mode. You’re bound to get one or two gold gems, trust me. Here are some shots we got just by using peanut butter!

Decide on a consistent style that represents you

This is especially important for establishing your style on Instagram. What is the aesthetic you want to use to tell your story? Is it clean and minimal backgrounds?

Or is it action shots paired with a shallow depth of field?

Sticking to one style and getting some practice will help you improve your photography and editing skills. Maybe one day you want to switch it up and try a new style? Go for it!

Daylight is your friend

We take 99% of our photos during the day in natural light. If we’re at home, we always shoot close to a window. Sunlight is your friend and dogs just shoot amazingly in natural lighting.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use studio lighting, but it’s much trickier to properly light a pup this way. And you just don’t get the same authentic effect as using some regular ol’ light from mother nature.

Stay in the shade

We love a good sunny day, especially here in LA. But whenever we shoot outdoors, standing in the sun can cast some harsh shadows in places you may not want in your photo. We try to look for a shaded area when we’re out and about with the pups and need to grab some outdoor photos.

Play with different angles

This is something that has taken me years to perfect. What unique and different angles could I utilize to make my photography stand out more?

The first simple rule of thumb is to get down to your dog’s height. Make sure you’re eye level with them for the best shots!

Utilize burst mode and video

It’s definitely hard to capture that “it” moment, especially with moving pups and their constantly changing expressions, so use the burst feature on your camera to continuously capture as many frames as possible! That way, you can pick and choose which exact moment you want to share.

Some of the best shots on my Instagram are even frames taken from videos, such as this. Because I had to throw the confetti myself, I wasn’t able to shoot burst photos at the same time, so opted to shoot a video instead. The photo quality won’t be as high if you pull a frame from a video, but for Instagram that isn’t really a problem at all since you’re just posting at 1080 x 1080 px!

Get your dog to smile by running them around

Is your dog looking a little too serious for the type of photo you’re going for? Take their favorite tug toy and play 5-10 minutes of tug with them. Or, run up and down the hallway a few times to get them active and panting. It’s a quick and easy way to get them to open their mouths and look happier for a shoot!

Use the right equipment

When I first started out taking photos of Kokoro, I had a 90mm portrait lens on my camera that I primarily used for taking photos of people. I quickly found out that this was going to require me to back up a lot before being able to frame up a shot. It proved to be near impossible when Kokoro was a puppy and didn’t have a perfect sit stay.

Wide angle lenses will get you closer to the dog so you don’t have to back up as much and so there isn’t as much time for the dog to break their sit stay. We’ve been loving our 24mm f/1.4 lens for wide angle shots and will occasionally switch to our 40mm f/1.8 prime lens when we’re outdoors.

Give your dog lots of treats

Treat photo shoots as training time for them. They have to put in work and follow commands, so they deserve lots and lots of treats and praise for being good dogs. And ultimately, don’t make them do anything they don’t want to do. Make sure you’re both having fun! This will really give you the most authentic photos that tell the story between you and your pup in the end.

Incorporate product creatively!

When photographing your dog and featuring a brand, think about different ways to naturally incorporate the product. There are many options aside from simply placing the product next to your dog.

Think about the natural use of the product! Is there a way that you can tell the story of how you or your dog would use it in one photo? Do you want to feature your dog’s face, whole body, or just paws? Here are a few examples to get your creative juices flowing.

Think about styling the environment to make it more interesting and purposeful. In these photos shot for Benebone, @bordernerd and @ifitwags used props to help bring more interest to these simple, beautiful photos.

Perhaps you get your pup in motion, moving towards the product to show interest or excitement. Just like how @pavlovthecorgi and @karen.lao did in these shots!

Or this shot of Chibi and Kokoro, up to no good and sneaking their way into a bag of yummy treats:

That does it for our dog photography tips! What tricks do you use when shooting for the gram?

Watch a video on this topic instead!

No two dogs are always the same size. Dog sizes can vary not only between a Chihuahua and a Labrador Retriever, but they can often vary within the same breed. And, regardless of whether you’ve been eyeing up a cute jacket to help keep your pup warm or are in need of a new harness, it’s important to know how to accurately measure your dog since there is no universal sizing chart for dogs.

Photo Credit: @adventurescruffs

While you generally could order a small for a Chihuahua or a large for a Labrador Retriever, double checking the exact measurements will help to keep your dog from slipping loose out of his harness or avoid trying to squeeze your dog into a shirt that’s just too tight. With so many various dog brands on the market, sizing often varies.

Photo Credit: @chavoandsteele

Measuring your dog is actually easier than you may think. To get the best and most accurate measurement, you’ll want to pick up a tailor’s measuring tape, if you don’t already have one. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just soft enough that you can easily bend it to loop around your dog.

Photo Credit: Jalsa UK

Another option if you don’t have a tailor’s measuring tape, but are pretty crafty and have some string or ribbon in the house and a ruler nearby, you can use that as well. Simply use the string or ribbon as you would the tailor’s tape, then measure the length against the ruler.

Photo Credit: Blitsy

There are 3 main measurements you will want to measure: neck, chest and length.

Photo Credit: Lead the Walk

Neck: 
Measure your dog’s neck at his widest point. Dogs have a sensitive trachea and having a collar or harness that is too tight around a dog’s delicate neck area could cause breathing difficulty or even worse, it could lead to a collapsed trachea.

Chest:
This measurement is sometimes referred to a dog’s “girth” measurement. Again, you will want to measure around your dog’s widest point. The chest area is where your dog’s harness will lay. Too tight of a harness is like wearing pants that are a size too small. Not only do you want your dog to be safe, you want your dog to be comfortable as well.

Length:
To measure your dog’s length, start at the base of your dog’s neck and measure to the end of your dog’s tailbone (not the tail, just the tailbone).

If you have a long dog such as a dachshund or corgi, check around for specially made clothing, as most of the clothing sold in stores will likely be too short for your dog.

Photo Credit: @crusoe_dachshund

If you are ordering clothing or p.j.’s for your dog, you may also want to measure your dog’s legs.

Photo Credit: @lazyoneinc

Leg Length:
Start in between your dog’s shoulder blades and measure down to the top of your dog’s paws. If you’d prefer to measure your dog’s back legs, begin at the center of your dog’s tailbone and measure to the top of your dog’s back paws.

Generally, you should omit at least ½ inch to allow ample space between the length of your dog’s clothing and the top of his paws to keep your dog from slipping while your dog is walking or running.

Photo Credit: @robinventures

Obviously, if your dog is a puppy, you’ll need to remeasure him as he grows. If your dog is an adult, it’s a good idea to measure him twice a year: winter and summer. Dogs, like humans, tend to be less active in the winter months, which can lead to a little extra fluff.

We’d love to see your dog’s latest fashion outfits, collars or harnesses. Tag us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with #benebone and we may just share your photo.

Happy 2019! With the new year often comes resolutions geared towards wellness and improvement for ourselves. This year, did you make any resolutions with your pups? 

Our team is gearing up for a new year’s cleaning of sorts for the four-legged members of our families. Check out these tips for refreshing your dog’s toy bin so they can kick off the year with a clean start! 

1. Make keep, donate, and purge piles

Source: Bark

Sort your toys so you can make room for new ones! It’s important to keep an eye on the lifespan of your toy. Depending on what it’s made of, if it’s past its prime, it can even be dangerous for your pup. 

Protip: Check out our When To Replace guide to see if your Benebone needs a toss!

2. Give dirty toys a wash

Source: Pinterest

Only toss plastic, rubber, or nylon toys into a dishwasher if the manufacturer has specifically stated that it’s safe to do so. Hand washing is always a safe bet, but be sure to fully rinse the toy of antibacterial soap. Try using a toothbrush for hard to reach crevices. Rope toys made of only rope can be disinfected with a quick soak and minute in the microwave. Plush toys can be placed in a laundry bag or tied up pillowcase to be washed in the washing machine. Air dry the toys rather than sticking them into a heated dryer.

3. Replace your toy bins 

Source: Pretty Fluffy

If necessary, get a new toy bin for your pup! Try and find something low and wide so your dog has easy access to his favorite toys. Even something with open sides like a wire basket might be good so they can easily pick out what they want to play with. Give a DIY project a try if you want to personalize the bin for your pup  — Pretty Fluffy has a great guide here

4. Add a play rug to the toy bin

Source: Remodelista

Dogs love rugs. It gives them traction when they’re ripping their favorite toy to shreds, and it’s also the perfect place for them to get a good back rub in. Consider adding a rug to your dog’s toy bin area to create a little space perfect for them to hang out in.

5. Organize your pup’s toys

Source: @girlplusbulldogs

Perhaps you have one toy bin for plushies, one bin for puzzle games, and one for Benebones of course! No guarantees your pup will stick with your organization system, but it’s worth a shot 😉 

Have any other tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment or message us on @mybenebone social! 

There’s no doubt that we are full swing into pumpkin season. It’s hard to go into any store without seeing some type of pumpkin spice product. And, while your dog cannot enjoy a yummy PSL (pumpkin spice latte) with you, there are other delicious ways for your dog to enjoy pumpkin this season.

Photo Credit: @thatgoldendoodle

Besides the yummy taste, there are many health benefits for dogs that eat pumpkin. But, before you begin giving your dog some of grandma’s famous pumpkin pie, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Dogs can only eat unsweetened raw or cooked pumpkin. This generally means no human pumpkin snacks.
  • Canned pumpkin is fine – just as long as it’s organic and does not contain any added sugar!
  • Dogs can eat both the seeds and/or flesh of a pumpkin. Keep in mind that pumpkins spoil quickly, be sure to inspect your pumpkin carefully.
  • Always consult your Veterinarian before introducing new foods to your dog.

One of the biggest health benefits pumpkin provides is aiding in upset stomach or diarrhea issues. Pumpkin is rich in soluble fiber and also contains vitamins A, E and C. The soluble fiber aids in absorbing the excess water in your dog’s stool. This fiber also serves as a prebiotic for your dog’s intestines and gut lining, which kickstarts the growth of beneficial bacteria while decreasing the harmful bacteria.

Pumpkin can also help to entice your dog to eat his meals if his upset stomach may be keeping him from eating. Simply add 1 – 2 tablespoons of pureed pumpkin to your dog’s meal. When starting out, it’s best to start with a smaller quantity and work your way up.

Hopefully, your dog is happy and healthy! In which case, pumpkin is still a great addition to your dog’s diet. Pumpkin isn’t just for “sick” dogs, there are different ways you can (and should) give your healthy dog pumpkin.

Photo Credit: @arloandjoy

TREATS!

The easiest way to provide your dog with pumpkin is by buying premade treats. During this time of year, there are an abundance of pumpkin dog treats, just as there are for humans. Not a fan of premade treats? Grab a fresh pumpkin and you can make your own dog treats.

Photo Credit: @dalmatiandiy

When making your own fresh pumpkin treats, don’t throw out those seeds. Not only do pumpkin seeds make a great treat for dogs, but they also help aid against worms in your dog’s intestinal tract. Pumpkin seeds contain cucurbitin, an amino acid, that stops any worms from progressing and eliminates them.

Photo Credit: @olgainthekitchen

When feeding pumpkin seeds, you will want to get them fresh or untreated. Often, the grocery store pumpkin seeds come pre-salted, which you want to avoid. If your dog doesn’t want to eat them raw, try roasting them with some coconut oil – this will also help to prolong the seeds shelf life. It’s as easy as putting the pumpkin seeds onto a baking sheet and baking them for 10 – 15 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you have a picky eater that doesn’t want to eat the pumpkin seeds whole, try grinding them to a salt like texture and sprinkle on your dog’s meal.

DINNER!

If your dog already gets enough treats, try steaming some fresh cut pumpkin and adding it to your dog’s dinner. Cut your pumpkin into small cubes, add some water to your steamer and let your pumpkin cook for about 10 – 12 minutes. Let the pumpkin pieces cool and serve.

Photo Credit: @popped.pomegranate

Whichever way you give your dog pumpkin is up to you! It may take some trial and error to see what your dog prefers. But, you can rest assured that not only is pumpkin safe for your dog – it’s healthy too!

We’d love to hear how you feed pumpkin to your dog. Let us know in the comments below or share a photo of your dog with his pumpkin on our social media pages. Tag us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with #Benebone so we can see your pumpkin treats or meals.

Photo Credit: @the_puppy_source

Welcome back to our Instagram 101 Series! Ever hear and wonder what people are talking about when you hear the term “stories” in relation to Instagram? Looking for a way to boost your Instagram account’s engagement? Have a fun photo or video that you want to share, but don’t necessarily want to post it to your main feed? If you’re looking for a fun way to share content, Instagram stories is exactly what you are looking for.

What are Instagram Stories?

Instagram created “stories” to directly compete with it’s visual sharing competitor, Snapchat. Instagram Stories are photos or short video clips that are posted on your account for 24 hours. After 24 hours, your story disappears from your account. You may have seen those circle icon at the top of your home screen. These are other people’s stories. As they upload, you will continue to see them at the top of your page. To watch someone’s story, simply click on the icon. Stories will continuously play and switch to the next user until you close out of the page.

Photo Credit: FonePaw

Why You Should Post Stories?

Stories are a great way to share content that you may not typically share on your mainstream feed. Often, stories are also used to share the “behind the scenes” of your daily adventures, promote products, promote blog posts or even used to alert followers when you put a new post up. There’s no wrong or right way to use stories, use them as you see fit for your account.

How to Post A Story

Posting your first story can often be daunting, but it’s actually just as easy as posting a photo or video onto your Instagram feed. Once you’ve posted a story or two, you’ll be a pro in no time!

To begin, open your Instagram account and make sure you are on the “home” tab, which is located in the bottom left hand corner and looks like a house icon.

Once you’re on your home page, click on the camera icon, which is located in the top left hand corner of your account. This will open the camera on your phone. Instagram allows you to have the option of taking a photo or video and uploading it or you can upload a photo or video from your phone’s gallery that you previously took.

To take a live photo or video, simply tap the large white button at the bottom of your screen for a photo or hold that white button to take a video. Instagram allows your story videos to be 15 seconds or less. If you choose to upload a photo or video that you have previously taken, simply tap the far left box. You will see your latest photo from your phone’s gallery here.

Once you’ve taken your photo or uploaded your content, click the “send to” button and then “share”, followed by “done”. Voila, you’ve created your first story! 🙂

Text, Stickers, Gifs & More!

While you can leave your story as is, but just as you write a caption for your main feed post, you will probably want to write a caption for your story to let your followers know what is going on in your story. Overlaying text on top of  your story is just as easy as posting. Once you’ve taken or selected your photo, tap the “Aa” icon in the upper right hand corner. Here, you will be able to type a short caption and choose your font. In addition to writing a short caption, you can also tag accounts. If you tag an account in your story, your story will automatically be sent to the account you tagged so that they are alerted to your story as well.

A fun way to spruce up the appearance of your stories is by adding stickers and/or gifs. Gifs are moving emojis that can really capture a follower’s attention and add a little humor to your story. Again, once you’ve taken or selected your photo, simply tap the smiling sticker icon in the upper right of your story.

Here, not only can you add emojis and gifs, but you can also add facts such as your location, the time and the temperature. By adding your location, you can attract new followers that are around your area. You can be as precise as adding the exact location of any stores you are at or keep it generic in only adding the city or town that you are in.

Check Your Stats!

Just as you may check your insights for your Instagram posts, checking the insights on your Instagram story may be just as helpful when you are planning your content and/or working with a brand.

To check your insights, when on your home page of Instagram, tap your own story icon. Once your video starts playing or your photo pops up, you should see “seen by” in the lower left hand corner. This is the number of people that have seen your story. Tap “seen by” and a new page opens up.

Here, you can see exactly which accounts have viewed your story. To see deeper insights, simply tap the graph bar icon which will break down your interactions and discovery. Use this insightful tool to help determine which of your stories are most successful.

You can compare stories to see which stories have higher views and engagement. For instance, you may have higher views if you add #cutedog to your story versus just adding #dog. Play around with your hashtags and see what works best for you and your account. However, be sure to check your insights near your stories 24 hour mark. Just as the stories disappear, so will your stories insights.

All in all, Instagram stories, while meant to be an additional feature of Instagram, actually pack a lot of punch. Use stories to your advantage, whether that be showcasing a product you’ve been asked to share, sneak peeks of upcoming posts, sharing of blog posts, behind the scenes, etc. Allow stories to be yet another creative outlet for you to share your visual images with all your friends and followers.

Have any Instagram stories tricks to share? What makes your Instagram stories pop? Let us know in the comments below or share your thoughts with us in an Instagram story of your own. Don’t forget to tag our Instagram account @mybenebone so we see your story.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Welcome to our newest series: Instagram 101! Starting an Instagram account for either yourself or your dog is fun and exciting. Instagram has a lot to offer people looking to connect with like-minded people worldwide.

What is Instagram?

Some of you that have landed here may already know what Instagram is and (thankfully) follow our Benebone Instagram account. If you are new to Instagram, welcome aboard! In short, Instagram is a photo sharing social media platform. Much like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram allows you connect with people around the world. While each platform may vary, Instagram is heavily focused on photographs and visuals. In fact, you can’t even post to Instagram without posting a visual of some sort.

Photo Credit: Jack’s Advice

What to Post?

This is the great debate. Should you post photographs? Videos? A combination of both? You will have to figure out what’s best for your audience through some trial and error. It’s always easiest to start with visually pleasing photographs, as it is probably the easiest to capture and work your way up to videos. Videos tend to bring more engagement with audiences on Instagram, but a good mixture is key to a great looking home feed (your overall Instagram page).

How Often Should I Post?

This question is harder to answer than most, as the answer is ever changing. When Facebook acquired Instagram, it brought along a complex algorithm with it. Quickly, Instagram changed from a chronological-based feed to a user-based feed. What’s this mean for you? It means that you have to work harder to have your posts seen by not only your followers, but any new potential followers as well.

Photo Credit: @gioiericcione

There are many theories about the best time to post. For us, we post at least once a day, everyday. In order for your account to stay relevant in Instagram’s eyes, you should stay active. If you have the time to post twice a day, that could certainly help your engagement levels on your daily posts. However, be mindful about posting too much. If you’re posting multiple times a day, that can be off putting to your followers and you may see a quick decrease in your following. Posting can be a balancing act at times, but you’d be surprised at how quickly you find a rhyme that works for you.

Quality of Posts!

It is true that professional photographs taken with an expensive DSLR camera and lens kit do well. But what if you don’t have that level of equipment or are not a professional photographer? Don’t let that keep you from having fun on Instagram.

There are many creators that use nothing but the camera on their phone. The key is to capture clear, sharp images. It may take many attempts, but even creators using a DSLR camera go through just as many takes as camera phone users.

 

Photo Credit: makeuseof.com

In addition to clear images, a thought-out caption is key! Decide before you post if you want your account to be funny, serious, informative or whimsical. There is no right or wrong, but you should stay consistent. Audiences should have a basic idea of what to expect from your account. A good example is @dogswhobrunch. As you can see from their feed, some photographs shared are taken with a DSLR camera and some are quick camera phone takes. But, what they all have in common is a consistent theme of dogs that like brunch.

How to Post!

Now that you have a basic understanding of what Instagram is, it’s time to post! Since Instagram is a mobile app platform, you will need to download the app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Instagram is a free app. The only time you will have to pay anything is if you decide to promote a post, which we will get into on a later blog post.

Google Play Instagram Install Photo Credit: Social Dong

Once downloaded, open the app and create an account. All you need is your email address (or phone number) and a username. (Tip: Create an easy to remember username. If you attend a dog event and exchange Instagram handles with another dog parent, you want them to be able to find your account and give you a follow. If your username contains a lot of numbers or underscores, they may not be able to find you.) After you’ve entered your information and hit “next” and voila, your account is created and you are ready to post!

Photo Credit: Social High Rise

Next, you will want to edit your profile. This is what people will see when they visit your page, so be mindful about the information you share. You can opt to make your profile private in the settings section of your account. When set to private, the only people that can see your posts are the accounts you have approved to follow you. If your account is set to public, anyone and everyone has the ability to view your posts. To edit your bio, simply go to your home page, bottom right icon in the app. At the top, you will see a button “edit profile”. From here, Instagram will walk you through the information you can list.

So Now You’re Ready to Post?!

Posting is easy and fun. Tap the + icon at the bottom of the app. This will open to your phone’s camera gallery.

You have the option of posting a photo or video that you have already taken or you can take one on the spot and post immediately.

Once you’ve decided on the photo or video you are going to post, tap the “Next” button, which takes you to the editing process of Instagram. Here, you can adjust, add filters, etc. to edit your photos. If you are uploading a video to Instagram, your editing options will be trimming the length of your video and picking a cover photo for your video. Once finished editing, click “Next” in the upper righthand corner.

Your next step will be to add your caption. This is also where you can add your location and tag other Instagram accounts on your photos. Tagging accounts is visible to your followers. This is a good way to share where you are, any clothes that your dog may be wearing, etc.

Once you’ve added your caption and added your optional location and/or tags, tap the “Share” button and watch your post go live! While it may seem like a lot of steps to add a post, once you become familiar with the process, it will be like second nature and only take you a few minutes to post.

Throughout our Instagram 101 Series, we will be talking all things engagement, stories, increasing your following and more! If there’s anything, in particular, you’d like to see us cover, please let us know in the comments below. And, please, be sure to give our social media accounts a follow: we are on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

Feature Image: @sebastianlovesluna