I have hundreds, if not thousands, of dog pictures in my photo library. I’m a dog sitter and take pictures throughout the day for the parents of pups in my care. I’m pretty good at taking dog pics, even selfies. I grab the sweet dog around the neck, push my head up against his, and smile. It works most of the time. For one-, two-, or three-dog portraits, I grab a treat and hold it above the phone, wave, snap, hold up a stick, and make high-pitch noises. One of these things usually works to get the dogs to look like they’re posing with a smile plastered across their faces.
This makes me both the best and worst candidate to test the Pooch Selfie. I love dog pictures and will happily use any help I can get to step up my photography game, but was it going to work better than what I was currently doing?
Short answer — not really. Let me explain.
The Pooch Selfie is brilliantly simple in its design. It’s a plastic clip that attaches to your phone and holds a tennis ball above the camera. The one sent to me was unpackaged without any instructions, and I managed to figure it out within seconds. It seemed like a valid way to get a dog to look to the camera, so I gave it a shot.
In my experience, there are three types of dogs:
I tried the Pooch Selfie out with each of these personality types, and the results were similar. I ended up with photos in which one or more subjects were kinda looking at the camera, but I wasn’t going to win any photography awards.
I also ran into a few usage issues. Since I hike with my phone, and I’m very, very clumsy, I have invested in an OtterBox cover, but the Pooch Selfie isn’t designed for such thick covers. I forced it onto my phone, but setup wasn’t overly stable.
I crouched down and called out for the dogs. Gauge, a beautiful Chesapeake Bay Retriever mix and a big fan of tennis balls, came a-runnin’. I sat him down next to me and told him to say cheese and look at the ball hovering above my phone. Within seconds, he leaped toward the Pooch Selfie, grabbed it, and crawled under my desk. I managed to wrestle the plastic holder away from him, but had to abandon the squeaky tennis ball. Gauge had claimed it as his own and continued to squeak it for a good hour before either he or a dog friend destroyed it.
The ball-obsessed dog was a fail. Of course, this was partly because the Pooch Selfie wasn’t as secure as it should have been on my phone, due to my case. Even so, I’m pretty confident Gauge could have wrestled the gizmo from my phone fairly quickly even if it was installed correctly.
I was down, but not out — I had to try again. This time I took three pups — my Riggins, a German Shorthair Pointer mix; Luna, a Dalmatian; and Monkey, a terrier mix — out to the trails for a photo shoot. None of these dogs have the same level of ball obsession as Gauge. Riggins and Luna are dog-park ball lovers, and Monkey doesn’t care much about tennis balls — ever.
Most of my picture taking takes place on the trails, which already makes the Pooch Selfie a little difficult to use. I have to put down my pack, take out the Pooch Selfie, take off the Otterbox cover from my phone, and then attach the device. The makers suggest that if your pup loses interest, you can take the ball out and squeak it to regain his attention, or even throw it for a couple rounds of fetch. It was just too much work for me. By the time I got settled in for a photo using the Pooch Selfie, I could have taken a dozen pictures using my old method, printed them, and designed a nice scrapbook. OK — that may be a bit of an over-exaggeration, but not by much.
For the first try, I put the Pooch Selfie on the side of the phone and hit record. Here is what happened:
Fail with a side of fail and some fail dribbled over the top for good measure. Sigh.
It turns out the Pooch Selfie works really well for people who aren’t me. In fact, if you go to Instagram and search #pooochselfie, you will see lots of folks who have successfully used this tool and love it. They are obviously better at dog-selfie gizmos than I am.
Quality: I wish the ball holder could be made with something besides plastic. In my house, plastic dog-related items last about a week before they find their way into a dog’s mouth and are chewed up beyond recognition.
Style: It’s a black holder and a pretty colored ball. It’s a stylish as it can and needs to be.
Function: If you aren’t me, it seems to work well.
Creativity: I’ve tried dog-selfie apps with similar results. The use of a tennis ball, which to some dogs is an attention grabber, seems like a good idea.
Value: The Pooch Selfie is sold on its website for $12.99. Before purchasing, you may want to try taking pictures of your pup by holding a ball above your phone. If that works, it could be worth the dough, although don’t come crying to me if you fail miserably using the product like I did.
I feel like the Pooch Selfie is a good idea, but it’s not for me. I have better luck holding up a treat or smashing my face up against Riggins for the perfect duo-selfie shot!
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About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of “always be closing” to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy’s new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.