1) Pay attention to the sunlight! The absolute best lighting for photos is an hour after sunrise, an hour before sunset, or a lightly overcast day. If you find yourself in the middle of a bright, sunny day, look for locations with lots of shade. This will prevent highlights and shadows on your dog's face, help with diffusing the light and avoid squinty eyes.
2) Do whatever you can to get the alert, ears up and forward look that we all love to see - squeaky toy, treats, ball or words that your dog reacts to (walk, treat, who's that, etc.)
3) Be aware that some of the best photos are when the dog is not looking at you, but in another direction. You can have someone stand near something interesting and call your dogs name or throw something in the direction you want your pup to look.
4) Unless doing a close up portrait, do not centre your subject. Create a story by setting your pup towards the outside of your frame and include some details from your location.
5) Look for an interesting backdrop - multiple layers, bright colours, unique textures, etc.
6) Position your dog on or near something that can add to your story - in a car, on a log or stump, in tall grass or flowers, beside or looking through a fence.
7) Try to see the creative aspect of your scenery - is there a unique angle you can photograph from (looking up or down at your dog).
8) Take your time and be patient! Patience is key to great photos. You can't rush beautiful pictures, especially when dealing with animals. If your dog is being restless or uninterested try playing with them and taking lots of breaks. I find that nearly every photoshoot starts the same way and owners need to tell their dogs to sit, stay multiple times before the dog "gets it", but rest assured that every dog gets it eventually.
9) Exercise your dog before you start. Very important!
10) Focus on the eyes and use a narrow depth of field (low aperture setting) and set your dog up away from your background to create that blurry background effect that can place full attention on your pup.
11) Watch out for out of place items that may distract the viewer from your dog - bright lights, reflections, and brightly coloured objects.
12) Practice important commands with your dog frequently - sit, down, and, stay.