Dogspotting: Not As Easy As You Think

On the hunt to find the best pup pictures in the world

Aug 30, 2015 at 7:21 AM ET

It’s not considered an extreme sport, but it should be. Every day 60,000 people log in to Facebook and click over to a group that’s sole concern is grading the best photos of dogs. It’s called Dogspotting and the rules are rigorous; it is not your grandfather’s Dogs of Instagram. It doesn’t matter how cute your own dear Fido is, for cuteness has little place among the ranks of the point system. No selfies, no service dogs, no pet shops or dog parks. Members rate each others photos based on location, positioning of the dog, and other outside factors. The group skyrocketed to fame last year, when membership surged to 30,000, due to the somewhat unorthodox rating and spotting system, which continues to be both the reason for excitement and strife within the ranks of users. But what does it take to actually snap a spot?

Dogspotting in practice is actually more difficult than the group’s enthusiasm lets on. Especially in a large and fast-moving city, finding and snapping photos of other peoples’ pets (without looking too invasive and creepy) can prove to be a real challenge. There are certain areas of the city more densely populated with pups than others, and while you’re guaranteed to find subjects at any of Manhattan’s 37+ dog parks and runs, dogspotting there is definitely against the rules. You’re more likely to spot dogs in the early morning hours, or just after dinnertime, and less likely to see pooches in business or shopping districts where cars and crowding keep pet owners away. Wintertime is better for spotting dogs wearing outfits, though not necessarily. And even though National Dog Day passed us by earlier in the week, the time period for dogspotting is continual, with members crossing country lines and spanning time zones.

As far as technique is concerned, dogspotting doesn’t require any sort of photographic skill, but it does require speed. Dogs can be there and gone in a minute, so having your phone or camera out and ready is essential. It’s better to take more than one photo as well, because you might not get that perfect shot on the first try; waiting for the dog to turn its head, or for the owner to step out of the frame, realistically may never happen. If you are able to crouch low and get on the dog’s level, even better – you want as much of the dog in the shot as possible, to maximize your points.

What does the perfect spot look actually look like? Here’s some inspiration from the thousands of posts the group garners on any given week.