A picture is worth a thousand words… but nothing captures a pet’s personality like a video! Online pet videos are one of the most successful (and fun!) ways inspire potential adopters to fall in love with a homeless pet. Shooting great videos of pets for adoption is easier than you may think. We’ve had decades of experience filming shelter and rescue pets for adoption, using just a regular digital camera with a video setting, and no editing software! Now with these tips, you can too.

If your shelter or rescue doesn’t post videos of their pets for adoption, maybe you can volunteer to do it for them! Mobile adoption stops can be a great place to video many pets in once place, out of the shelter or kennel. You can upload them to YouTube from the comfort of your home.

– Lighting: There is a reason this tip is first! Poor lighting can make the cutest pet look dismal. Go for LIGHTER over darker. Indirect daylight is best, like in a bright indoor room, under a shady tree, or outside on an overcast day. If indoors, turn on as many lights as possible to make it as bright as daylight.

– Location: pick a location where the pet is going to be the most focused on you. In a foster home’s living room or yard, in a shelter office, hallway, play yard, in their kennel. Let them hang out there until they are done exploring and most likely to focus on you.

– Background: simple soft backgrounds work best, like grass or a solid color bedspread or sheet (avoid patterns) draped over where ever you will be placing the pet. Darker colors if the pet is light colored, lighter if the pet is dark.

– Props: put one or two toys near the pet, even if the pet will not play with them. They make the pet look friendlier, and give scale if a person is not in the shot with them.

– Focus: To get the pet focused on your camera’s lens, so he/she is looking into the camera as much as possible, use the tastiest smelliest treats you can find like cut up hotdogs (for dogs) or tuna (for cats), or a feather toy or squeeky toy.

– Helpers: You can video a pet alone, but helpers do make it easier! One can hold the pet, and if you have a third, they can get stand at your shoulder with the treat/toy.

– Length: If you’ve got great film editing skills, you can film for as long as you like! But for most of us, the best technique is to film clips that are 30 to 60 seconds long. You can then pick the best single clip to upload, no editing needed.

– Sound: If the filming “location” is noisy (like a shelter kennel full of barking dogs), after you upload the video to YouTube, on your “My Videos” page click on that videos “AudioSwap” button. You can then replace the audio with any one of hundreds of free songs, with just a click or two!

– Talking: If you are going to talk in the video, keep what you say short and positive. The video is not the place to go into complicated specifics about the pet. Save that for the text on their adoption page, or when you speak to the adopter in person. You want the viewer to focus on LOOKING, not listening.

We hope these tips help you in your making of great videos of pets for adoption!