It’s not like I didn’t spend hours training our basset hounds in basic dog etiquette. You know the usual commands of “sit, lie, come, stay, off, no, leave.” Trouble is that the trainer recommended food as the training incentive which in hindsight was probably the dumbest thing you could do for an extraordinarily food motivated breed of dog. A basset hound would do anything for anyone if you have food in your hand. Food is probably the only thing in the world that makes a basset give you their undivided attention.
I was experimenting to see if using a few treats might improve the chances of getting the bassets to sit nicely for a photographic portrait session. Unfortunately it had the effect of turning their faces rigid and their eyes demonic as if the food was taking over their personas. Which is of course exactly what happens to a basset where food is concerned, as long as it is the right sort of food.
These are smart dogs and they are not content with their usual dog food biscuits. They will only perform for higher value gourmet treats such as a piece of sausage, cheese or perhaps a sirloin steak. I have spared you the full horror of such indulgence as faced with such treats a basset will start to salivate which can be a messy affair. It is only a matter of a few minutes before you have to take cover from a basset that will dispose of excess slobber by centrifugal force and you (and your camera lens) will be in the firing line of a high speed basset head shake.
For all it’s frustrations I think I shall stick to photographing the hounds in their natural state and hope for a momentary flash of love and charm amongst the bored and dismissive looks. Food may get their attention but Its just not natural for a basset to be that cooperative or obedient.