Dog Stuff & Things

Gift guide for dogs & people who love them!

The snow has fallen, the Christmas tunes are playing (egads!) and the tinsel coated holiday season is upon us! This means the gifting and holiday season (Thanksgiving to Christmas, occasionally on to New Years) has arrived! Time for gifts for all the dogs & the people who love them!

This is Blue’s first holiday season and Christmas!

Of course when asked what he would want for Christmas and what he’d recommend for other puppies & dogs, he merely gave me a head tilt and a look of… food, duh! Bwhahaha! Of course that’s what he’d reccommend!

His favorite treats: Bocce’s Bakery and Pure Bites Beef Liver. (Btw Blue says he will take 20 of each in the case that you’re getting him a gift haha!)

His favorite toys: a dollar store plastic bone, a half deflated volleyball, and Racool by Bulltug (Racool is a remnant from Bender, Blue also likes Trash & Seek also by Bulltug!) and Bark toys with squeakers and crunches. 

The following are some EPIC gifts for dogs and dog lovers! No affiliate links, these are just things we love!

Local Minnesota vendors we’ve met at the Minneapolis Pet Market!

For the dog lover:

For the dogs in your life:

Of course you can’t forget a portrait session with us – About A Dog Photography – or some AWESOME swag from Atomic Collars!

Happy early holiday season! Deck your pup and gift yourself or give gifts to the dogs & dog lovers in your life.

3 Tips to Keep Your Dog’s Toes Cool this Summer

The summer temps are on the way (forecast for the upcoming week are high 60s, into 70s with a peak in the 80s on Wednesday & Thursday). Which means we need to be proactive about keeping those dog toes and the dogs who own them cool! 

3 tips for keeping your dog’s toes cool on these coming dog days of summer:

(Fyi “dog days of summer” comes from when the star Sirius – the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major – rises alongside the sun in late July. The Romans believed Sirius added to the heat of the sun and when the “dog star” was around the days would be hot. Hence the coining of “dog days of summer”!)

1. Avoid asphalt!

When air temps rise in the summer, the surface temps of asphalt and concrete also rise! Which means your pup will be prone to severely sore pads of their feet, if not blisters and burns! Ouchy!

Here’s an idea of what the asphalt temperature would be on a hot day:
– air temp at 77˚ F = asphalt temp at 125˚ F
– air temp at 86˚ F = asphalt temp at 132˚ F
– air temp at 95˚ F = asphalt temp at 149˚ F
(Skin destruction can occur in 60 seconds at 125 degrees!!!)

And it’s not only asphalt that can burn your dog’s toes – concrete can easily tip beyond  100˚ F on hotter days as can brick. Sand and dirt can be a bit cooler than asphalt but can also get super toasty under toes (we’ve all been at the beach with a “hot hot hot” mantra as we scurry to the water’s edge). Grass stays the coolest, though full baking in the sun grass will be warmer than in the shade grass. 

Not sure if the surface is too hot? Place the backside of your hand on the surface. If you can keep it there for 7 seconds without getting scorched it will be ok. If you only get to a few seconds before feeling the burn, then it’s WAY TOO hot for your pup to walk on. 

On days that are 70˚ F and hotter, its best to avoid asphalt, concrete and brick especially in the middle of the day and even into the evening. Dirt, sand and grass are the best bet, though if they’ve been baking in the hot sun they may be on the too toasty side too!

2. Walk when it’s cool

From the time the sun rises to when it sets, it begins to warm the surfaces of the world. And being a constant heat source, surfaces gain and retain the heat until the sun wanes from the sky. Which means when temps pass the 70s during the summer it is best aim for walks and playtime when the day is at it’s coolest – morning and in the evening after the sun has set. 

Mornings will grant you the coolest surfaces and you may be able to enjoy the cooler surfaces for the first hour or two the sun is up. As the day heads into a later morning the temp will increase and continue increasing until the sun begins to head towards the horizon – roughly 2 hours before sunset. Air temps will drop, but surface temps will take a bit to chill from retaining heat from the day. 

Do the hand test to gauge when it’s best to walk in the evenings, it may be much later than you think! If you end up walking in evening after it’s dark out, make sure to have reflective or glowing gear for safety. 

Check out these LED collars for nighttime strolls. Or snag a reflective leash. (The links are affiliate links fyi). 

3. Break out the pool or head to the beach!

What better way to keep cool on hot days that with a dip in a body of water?

Snag a hard plastic kiddie pool (or opt for a dog friendly version that can be folded up for storage), fill it up and invite your dog in for tons of splashes and watery playtime. If your pup isn’t sure about the contained puddle of water, time to do some training! Break out the treats, reward for one foot, two foot, three foot, all four! Once your dog realizes the water isn’t all that bad, invite them to pounce on toys or balls or to splash around.  (Or opt for a sprinkler instead of a pool for a two for one benefit – your dog stays cool in the spray of the sprinkler and your grass gets a good watering too!)

Check the water in the pool frequently and replace once it starts to get muddy, gunky, full or leaves or scum. If it looks yucky, you won’t want your dog to drink or lounge in it. Dump and refresh for more watery summer fun!

Or pack up the beach towels, sunscreen and your dog and head to the beach! Tons of fun can be had running and rolling through the sand, bounding through and chasing the waves, retrieving toys from the water and so much more at the beach!  Remember the sand might be hot to your dog’s feet so you may need to carry or create a path from towels so they don’t burn their tootsies before hitting the water. 

Things to consider for a beach trip:

  • Check with your vet if your dog needs the Leptospirosis vaccine (or if they already have it). Leptospirosis is a gnarly bacteria that can make dogs super sick. It can be found in slow moving & stagnant water and comes from infected urine, which gets in the water. Dogs classically become infected when they drink infected water. Caught early on it can be treated with antibiotics, though there is risk that your dog can have kidney or liver disease. 

  • Follow the rules of the beach – stay in the areas designated for dogs and keep your dog from causing a ruckus (zoomies through sandcastles!) so everyone can enjoy the beach. Make sure you have poo bags and snag that shit asap!

  • Consider a lifejacket or long line for your pup. A lifejacket is great for all types of swimmers and will help them stay floating if they tire out or overcome by waves. A long line attaches to your dog with the end in your hands or within close reach. It allows you to reel in your dog if they start to swim out too far or you think they need a break. 
  • Bring ample towels! Depending on the size of your dog your may need a couple to get excess water off for the ride home, along with a set to line your car seats for the ride home. Roll down the windows for an air dried pup on the way home. You will want to do a rinse via the hose or in the bath when you get home to remove any sand, lake water or lake things from your dog’s fur. 

Huzzah! 3 awesome ways to keep your dog’s toes cool as the spring heads into the dog days of summer! 

What to wear your session – dog edition!

Hello dogs! Are you excited for your session? EEEEEEEEK! Me as well!

Let’s talk about what to wear for your session! (We’ll give you some recommendations to tell your hoomans too!)

Atomic Collars beat up collar

Old beat up collar – great for daily walks & jaunts through the mud & woods. Not great for your session!

What’s the difference between a neckerchief and a bandana?

Bandanas are a TRIANGLE shape. They can be tie on or have a snap closure system. Classically the knot will rotate as its being worn so the design will end up on your shoulders. (Don’t worry, we’ll tweak it into place for your pictures!). Neckerchiefs are a RECTANGLE shape, no point! They tie on and the knot becomes an adorable bow under your chin. 

You can also opt for a bow tie, flower, or scarf (if you’re doing a winter session these are TOTALLY adorable!)  to show off your personality!

What should my hooman parents wear if they are in pictures with me? 

First and foremost, make sure your hoomans wear clean, non beatup shoes. They WILL end up in pictures with you no matter what size you are. Also make sure they wear (or at least bring) comfortable shoes for when we walk from point to point during your session. It’s no fun for your mum or dad to be sore halfway through a trek in the woods. 

There’s two ways you can coordinate their outfits – you pick your collar & accessories & they find matching items or they pick their outfits and find matching items for you. So if you fall in love with a shark bandana then your hooman parents would pick blues and greys to compliment.  Say your hoomans love mustard & navy like below:

Found on

Then you would match to their choice in colors with navy or mustard (or mustard & navy) bandana or neckerchiefs – see below for ideas! Heck you could even match your collar or harness to their outfits! 

If your parents aren’t sure about mixing patterns, tell them it’s totally ok! Best bet is a pattern & solid together, or a floral pattern with a plaid. The ideal is to have their outfits in similar tones (all blues, greys, mustards etc) or in tones that compliment each other – navy goes well with coral, mustard, rust and turquoise. Pair soft pinks with sand, mint, lavender and pale blues. Blues and greens work wonderfully together, mustard pairs with cranberry, turquoise and purple work well together. If they stay in a tonality range (rich colors, pale colors, bright colors) the colors they pick ought to coordinate quite well. T-shirts are dandy too but make sure they don’t wear any t-shirts with graphics on them!

Tell your parents to anticipate the season we’re going to have your session in. Spring & fall can be warm, can be chilly, layering is going to be their friends. Summer speaks to lighter weight materials. If your mum or dad tends to sweat, tell them to avoid greys & lighter colors (minus white) if the humidity and temperature are on the upward trend. Darker colors (navy & black are best) will help hide any sweaty regions. In the winter the temp can be cold to really cold (we won’t do a session if the temp is under 20 degrees) and layering is a MUST! If they don’t have any classic coats that look sharp, then they will discard them for any images they are part of. Additionally tell them that proper footwear is a MUST! 

What if my sister or brother (who are also dogs like me) want to be in the pictures? 

Make sure they have a clean, non ratty collars or harnesses. If one of you wears a harness and the other doesn’t, it would be best that you BOTH wear a harness or BOTH wear a collar for images when you’re together. With bandanas & neckerchiefs, use the same rules as above – pull from your hoomans’ outfits, or inspire theirs. If you want to wear the same bandana or neckerchief for total matchy matchy, go for it! Otherwise pick a pair that coordinates – perhaps the same color but a different tone for each of you (it’s called monochrome!). A light blue & dark blue, hunter green & kelly green, etc. The same advice from above – pair a floral with a solid, a plaid & floral, different patterns but the same tone and so on. Consult Pinterest for ideas (don’t worry that most are people themed, you can follow the same coordination inspiration!). Avoid contrasting patterns or colors, we want to show a unity to your sibling, not a contest!

Oh you’re not really the matchy matchy type? Tell your hoomans to head to Pinterest for ideas for their outfits and save the bandanas & neckerchiefs for pictures featuring only you! Feel free to bring a couple of options if you like and we can mix and match in according to backdrop. 

When should I go to the groomer? 

If you’re a dog who regularly goes to the groomer, we should coordinate your session a few days after your groom so you look sharp & clean. If you’re a pup with longer eyebrows but aren’t due for a full groom, pop into the groomer for a trim. If you happen to need a full shave due to matting (it happens, we understand) we should opt for a session a few weeks afterwards so your coat can build up a bit. 

If you’re a dog that’s a wash & wear type, opt for a bath the day before your session. Skipping the bath? A good brushing the day of your session before we meet up will be perfect. 

Make sure your hoomans are groomed too! Have your dads trim their beards, goatees and mustaches. Both mom & dad should have their hair trimmed the week before we meet up if needed. 

What should I make sure my mum or dad packs for the day? 

POO BAGS!!! Make sure to have a roll ready and in available because sh*t happens.
Aside from poo bags, you will want to bring:

  • a bottle of water & bowl – especially if your session is during the late spring, summer and early fall seasons
  • your favorite HIGH value treats (make sure to let me know if you have any dietary restrictions!)
  • your favorite toy – we can include it in your images as a memento or just use it to get your attention
  • a change of bandanas / neckerchiefs or collars – we can do outfit swaps throughout your session 

Perfect! You’re perfectly prepped on what to wear for your session!

Your dog’s personality has little to do with breed!

A new study launched recently and it confirms that your dog’s personality has little to do with their breed! (We all knew this already!)

“There is a huge amount of behavioral variation in every breed, and at the end of the day, every dog really is an individual,” said University of Massachusetts geneticist Elinor Karlsson, co author of the study. She mentions that dog owners love to talk about their dog’s personality (noted when she visited a New York dog park).  The enthusiasm sparked the inquiry into the extent of behavioral patterns are inherited. Are distinctive and predictable behaviors linked to breed? 

The answer: Physical traits such as spots on a Dalmatian or the long lean legs of a Greyhound are clearly inherited, breed is not a strong predictor of an individual dog’s personality!

They gathered a massive amount of data from 18,385 dogs (49% purebred) and sequenced the DNA of 2155 dogs to look for patterns that indicated breed would lend towards certain behaviors. 

They found, “Most behavioral traits are heritable [heritability (h2) > 25%], but behavior only subtly differentiates breeds. Breed offers little predictive value for individuals, explaining just 9% of variation in behavior. For more heritable, more breed-differentiated traits, like biddability (responsiveness to direction and commands), knowing breed ancestry can make behavioral predictions somewhat more accurate (see the figure). For less heritable, less breed-differentiated traits, like agonistic threshold (how easily a dog is provoked by frightening or uncomfortable stimuli), breed is almost uninformative.”

They found 11 regions in the genome that are significantly associated with behavior – howling & human sociability were inherited (makes sense as dogs were the first domesticated animal and have lived with humans for 20,000+ years…). But regions associated with behavior are not linked to breed! The study found that behavioral characteristics found in modern breeds are environmentally influenced (aka polygenic) and found with variable prevalence… in ALL breeds! 

The thought is these behaviors marked as characteristic of modern breeds come from thousands years of environmentally influenced adaptation that predates modern breeds. There are some behavioral variances that are defined by dog breed (ie biddability) though overall breed is NOT a reliable predictor of individual behavior (such as agnostic threshold – which measure how easily a dog is provoked by frightening, uncomfortable, or annoying stimuli). 

Thusly, most components of behavior & personality are not defined by breed! 

If you want to read the study: Published Thursday April 28th in the journal of Science. (The featured image is from Darwins Ark related to the study!)

Do you think your dog’s breed defines his or her personality? Or not?

Making collars for my dog & yours!

Making collars for my dog – and also for yours!

Indeed, when I’m not capturing immortal images of your dog, I’m crafting MEGA awesome wearables for your dog as Atomic Collars! From collars, to neckerchiefs, to leashes and harnesses – each is made from upcycled, small batch, found materials. Neckties, sleep pants, blouses, skirts, pillowcases & shower curtains, if it’s material is prone to be given a new life as a BOMB dog collar. 

And yes, Icey, Axle and Bender all had a wardrobe – Bender may have had the biggest wardrobe….

Started in the cold months of February in 2015 when my foster pittie (Bender!) needed a martingale collar that was cooler then the plain red, blue and black nylon that was found at the big box pet supply places. Headed to the thrift store, snagged a necktie & men’s belt, dropped in red thread and the Atom was born. 

Bender wearing the original Atomic Collar – Atom!

[ Here’s an old blog post that I wrote about Atomic Collars in 2015 (as part of the blog ring!): Something New! (The wacky tie still needs a home!) ]

6 years of time have evolved collars out of men’s belts as webbing (now it’s polypro), graduated away from the belt hardware (now welded D rings) but has retained the upcycled sourcing of all the materials.

Materials come in a plethora of patterns as varied as their source – from plaids & houndstooth, to stripes and florals to bleached & tie dyed. 

2 inch and 1.5 inch wide were the standards, with 1 inch and 3/4 inch widths added in later years. Martingale and flat buckle were the first two styles, with limited slip added later. Newly added styles include breakaway buckles, house collars and double D rings. Cat collars also joined the family, bringing with them teenie 1/2 inch webbing. Leashes and harness have joined the family as of a few months ago!

As for other accessories: Bowties were a fleeting thought (hard to attach to martingales), scarves were inspired but transitioned out as my indifference to KAM snaps grew. In similar styling to scarves (rectangle in shape) neckerchiefs arrived – a tie on and go option, cousin to a bandana. 

All the options! 4 widths, 6 styles of collars from teenie to moose sized, BAZILLIONS of material options, you’re bound to find the perfect fit for your pup! (Or send me your material and I’ll make a super one of a kind collar just for you!). Bonus: these look EPIC in a photography session! 

Head over to Atomic Collars and snag yourself a made by me collar! (If you use this code: AAD2022BLOG you’ll get 50% off everything!)

Look through the blog ring to see what the other photographers make for their dogs! Next in the circle: Angela Schneider of Big White Dog Photography in Spokane, WA, making homemade dog treats with zucchini!