If 2020 has taught us anything, it's to take time to think about what we are grateful for and to seize all the opportunities presented to us.
That is what Alex and Harry the founders of The Canine Story have done. With a passion and love for dogs, a wonderful new venture was born. They have founded a one-stop company for creative visual content... just for dogs! This means they do anything from videos, to photoshoots, illustrations and animations, all dedicated to our canine companions. Their work is used for many different avenues such as charities, brands and personal commissions.
Sounds like a dream job!
Not only are they creatively talented, but co-founder Alex is trained in dog behaviour and training techniques, so as a team they both have a lot to offer.
We managed to catch up with Alex and learn more about the company, as well as get some fun training tips that anyone can try with their dogs. But before we learn all Alex's top secret, here's what you need to know about The Canine Story...
What is 'The Canine Story'?
We are a one-stop company for creative visual content – from charity fundraising campaigns to personal pet photography, everything we do is either about dogs or for dogs! Because we understand dog behaviour, we take pride in ensuring the happiness and safety of all dogs we work with; from nervous rescues to energetic puppies, dogs come first. And when dogs are happy and having fun, we capture real, honest moments that bring out the unique personalities of every dog we work with.
What inspired you to start this business venture?
The Canine Story originated as a way to combine my lifelong passion for dogs with my creativity. Working as a costume designer in London - I was unable to have my own dog. I would spend all my spare time walking and looking after dogs with my partner, Harry. We’d visit London parks and spend our off days talking to dog owners, taking photos and then sending them the photographs. Enjoying spending so much time with these four-legged friends so much, I went on to study dog behaviour and started volunteering as a trainer at a charity dog training school. As this part of my life grew, I always had big ambitions and I realised there was a way I could use the experience I had gained through my design career, combined with my partner Harry’s experience in photography, to make a real difference and help dogs. With that, The Canine Story was born.
What is the best thing about photographing dogs instead of humans?
Dogs are so pure, and I think their happiness just radiates from them! Our whole ethos surrounding our photoshoots is to create an enjoyable experience for every dog – which makes it fun for us too. When dogs are happy, they are naturally very expressive, and it’s very honest. These are the moments we love to capture on camera. One of our favourite things is seeing the reactions of the owners when the photos pop up onto our screen.
Photographing dogs does have its challenges - there are similar technical aspects of photography that apply between humans and dogs, such as lighting, composition and camera settings. However with dogs you can’t exactly ask them to move an inch to their left or to lift their chin slightly! But because Harry is my partner inside and outside of work, we tend to know what the other is thinking, this is what makes us such a great team. Timing is everything and if I can see Harry going for a particular shot, I know to quickly guide the dog into the perfect position, and vice-versa.
People often say, don’t work with animals. Is it as difficult as people think?
I love working with dogs, but I think you have to have a specific type of brain for it. When I started studying dog behaviour, I felt like something clicked and it all made perfect sense to me. I guess it is similar to how some people naturally have the brain for maths or writing novels. It just took me a career in design for me to realise it!
It also goes without saying that it’s really important to be calm and patient around dogs. They are experts in body language so if you are stressed or frustrated, they will know. So being able to stay calm under pressure is definitely important. There’s a lot of preparation involved too, which must take priority. We have certain procedures in place which are all about managing the environment and making sure the dogs are happy; this takes a lot of planning, organisation and risk assessment, but it’s essential.
Alex's Top Tips For Dog Training
1. Dog training should always be fun!
Training should always be fun for everyone! We can do this by playing games and using lots of rewards like tasty treats, toys or praise. If training ever becomes stressful, or if your dog is just not getting it, take a break and try again later. By keeping everything fun and positive, we are helping them to build confidence and enjoy learning – which makes training easier! Training doesn’t have to be a chore, we can implement small training exercises in our everyday life, it’s much more effective to do short bursts of training throughout the day, than trying to do one long session.
2. Guide your dog to success
Putting a dog on their lead around a busy road is something we can physically do to avoid any problems before they happen. But we can apply that logic to lots of things, hiding slippers, installing baby gates, closing doors etc; this is called environmental management. We can put simple things into practice rather than feeling continuously frustrated that they keep making the same mistake over and over again! If a dog makes a mistake, I always ask myself, ‘how can I help them in future, so they don’t make that mistake again?
3. There are no quick fixes
Training takes a lot of patience and practice. It can feel overwhelming, confusing and frustrating at times, but don’t give up. Unfortunately, there are no real quick fixes and sometimes it does mean we have to work extra hard. But keep going, it’s absolutely worth it in the end!
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What The Canine Story can offer you...
The Canine Story creates bespoke dog photography packages for individuals and their dogs.
'Our commercial services consist of videography, photography and accompanying assets such as illustration and animation – we are a trusted place where dog charities, brands and organisations can come to for their creative visual content.
Photoshoots can be done in a London based photography studio, or we can travel to a favourite park or even your home. This is just one of the choices you have when we create your bespoke photography experience together.'
Find out how to get in touch with Harry and Alex through their website or social media.