The question on obedience of your pet is a common question for me at Bark Gallery. I often get told my dog isn't trained, won't sit, can't listen. The main thing to keep in mind is that I have photographed hundreds of dogs, and other animals. Dogs are fairly simple to target for a short span. I have read numerous dog training books, and I have been to seminars about dog behavior and training. The time I have spent around dogs has assisted me in making the portrait sessions successful. Some of the things that can help are treats, toys, or leashes.
I have never had a session where the obedience of the dog hindered the portrait. It sometimes makes things a little tougher, but everyone usually has some fun. I have done puppy sessions where they have no training, or very little, and yet they sit. The one part that helps this process is having a relaxed state of mind. Do not worry that your dog is not listening or may not be as well behaved as you hoped. If you keep yourself relaxed we can achieve some great results.
Dogs will often sit naturally. The simple task of having your pet sit, is usually done with repetition. You then "mark" this behavior by associating a word (sit) to it. Most dogs quickly learn things with a motivating factor, a treat or other item.
The expectations of your session should be great pet portraits that show your dog's unique personality. You know your pet and the way that they typically behave. If you know that your dog doesn't stay, you may need to be fairly close to your dog, and keep them on a leash. Leashes or leads can always be removed in post production. Safety is the number one priority when it comes to your pets lives.
The sessions with dogs whose obedience isn't as tailored, may take a little bit more time. Please mention your concerns when scheduling the shoot so that I can be prepared to provide more time as needed. If you have requests that may require more specific training, it's best to contact me prior to your session for guidance.
-Rick Vierkandt, Bark Gallery
P.S. If you would like to have better obedience for your dog, one of my clients is Sit Means Sit Dog Training. They have trainers all across the country.