"What would life be like without a dog?! I am quite certain I will never know..."
One of the best gifts I can give to you is a story, in the form of un-posed (or at least only lightly-posed!) images, of the relationship between you and your companion. When I first meet a dog, I like to just sit on the floor, grass or couch together to become friends (always with cookies in my pocket!) If schedules allow, it's nice to meet in advance of the actual shoot but if not, I just take my time becoming acquainted on the 'day of'. Many dogs are immediately at ease with a new person but with others, some extra time, patience and sensitivity are needed....all of which I am happy to give. I use only available light, never lighting or flash, to keep things as natural and relaxed as possible. There is some gorgeous studio photography out there but I personally feel that animals are happiest on their own turf.
Rather than posing or prodding a dog to sit, stay, come, etc., I like to allow him or her to just do their dog-thing which usually works best in their own house or yard. But, I love going to a favorite hiking spot, lake, beach, park etc...you know your buddy best and what kind of setting he or she is most comfy in.
I like to set aside at least a couple of hours for the session which includes the getting-to-know-each other period. Each one is so different, I just go with the flow of the animal, family and available time....I don't have a formula other than to make it fun for everyone and, of course, to provide you with beautiful images in the end that will always touch your heart.