Why I may Ignore Your Pet When We First Meet
So... I might ignore your pet when we first meet. BUT... it isn't what you think. I'm not ignoring them because I secretly hate pets or even worse... because I secretly hate your pet.
No, that's not it at all. But I am ignoring them for a very good reason.
Have you ever had a moment where you felt completely uncomfortable? Where something has happened that makes your whole body shudder and you just want to get the hell out of there?
Take, for example, when I was helping a customer at work (I used to be in retail). I was helping a customer try to locate the book he was searching for and I had just found it and handed to him. He reached over, placed his hand on my shoulder and thanked me as his hand continued down my back to my waist before he withdrew it.
Eeeek!!! Talk about uncomfortable! I did NOT like him getting into my personal space and I especially did NOT like him touching me! But in a situation when customer relationships are key, what do you do?
I smiled politely, directed him to the counter to purchase and got the hell away from him.
Now you may wonder why I'm sharing this story with you. I mean what does a creepy customer have to do with me ignoring your pet? Turns out... everything.
Have you ever felt weird and awkward because someone you just met has invaded your personal space? They're just that smidge too close when they sit next to you, they've moved in a touch too close when they talk to you and god forbid they've actually made physical contact.
I don't know about you but I hate it when someone I don't know does something that's overly familiar. They touch me on my back or hug me for a bit too long. These things really make me uncomfortable when I'm first meeting someone and it's the same for your pets.
When I meet you and your pet at your session, it's usually for the first time. And unlike the creepy guy, I don't want to make your pet uncomfortable. Each pet is different, no two pets are the same and I won't treat them that way.
So while it may appear as if I'm ignoring your pet, I can assure you, that I'm anything but. In fact, during the 'ignoring phase', I usually look to do two things while we are having our initial chat.
1. Assess your pet
When I'm meeting your pet for the first time, I like to assess their behaviour - are they confident and outgoing, quiet and cautious, reserved but friendly?
Having a chat with you before I interact with your pet gives me a chance to watch his natural behaviour, his interactions with you, as well as his interactions with me and his personality.
It gives both me and your pet a chance to assess ‘the new person’ without feeling threatened.
2. Match my behaviour to theirs
After assessing their behaviour at the beginning of the session, I’m better able to match my approach with what they need. Unlike humans, they can't tell you when they're uncomfortable. They show it in different ways and I have to be attuned to that.
After the initial assessment, I’ll match my behaviour to theirs. If they are happy go lucky and looking for their new best friend, we’ll head right into playing together.
If they are shyer and need a little time to warm up, we might chat for a bit longer to allow your pet time to get to know me. Usually a little bit of playtime and giving them a chance to realise I’m not a scary person, that I can actually be fun, will help them warm up.
Also allowing for playtime gives me an opportunity to gain their trust as well as gives your pets a break in between shooting so that they don’t get bored.
Not every dog is going to respond the same way. Just like every person is different, so is every dog. That’s why I take the time at the beginning of your session to assess your pet and their natural behaviour.
It’s also why I provide you with a comprehensive questionnaire before your session. The questionnaire helps me understand your pet, their personality and tailor my approach to suit them when we meet.
Some pets don't need that initial adjustment period and bound over for pats and love with everyone they meet. But others need a little more time to warm up to people.
By taking the time to watch your pet and assess their behaviour, I am also giving them the opportunity to do the same with me. It’s their chance to assess me and see what I’m all about without the pressure of of having to ward off unwelcome attention.
See, unlike the creepy guy, I don't ever want to put your pets in a situation where they feel uncomfortable. Because if all I have is a pet who's desperately trying to get away from me because they don't like me or what I'm doing, then there's no way I can get the images for you that you want.
That's why I like play with your pet first before I bring out the camera. I want to build trust and establish a relationship with your pet so that when I do bring out my camera, they’re more likely to hang around.
So rest assured... I don't hate your pet, I just don't want to be that creepy guy :)
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