Like proud parents showing off pictures of their kids, dog owners love sharing photos and videos of their furry friends on social media.

A BarkBox study reflects this fun American obsession: Dog owners post a photo and/or comment about their dog an average of six times per week on social media. Also, the survey showed dog parents view dog photos or videos three times a week, and that 20 percent of the photos that dog owners keep in their phones are of their dog.

Besides the “awww!” factor that adorable dogs attract, all the posting about your lovable four-legged animal can create more awareness of you and expand your social network.

“Having a dog gives you something in common with many people, and posting pictures of them is a way to connect while breaking free from negative, often nasty discussion of the world’s problems or politics,” says Kris Rotonda, who with Robert Otillar is co-founder and co-CEO of PetSmooch, a social media network app for animal lovers.

“The dog pictures, with or without you, provide a positive reflection of you and create good engagement on social media. That can start fun conversation, friendships, and bring opportunities.”

The trick, says Rotonda, is how to take even better photos and videos of your pets that will generate more responses on social media sites.

“It’s human nature to be competitive,” Rotonda says. “This is no different, but in a much friendlier and positive, creative sense – ‘Look at my pup!’ It can be a challenge to photograph  your dog exactly at the right time in a funny or cute moment. 

Rotonda shares five ways you can take better quality pictures of your dogs that will generate comments on social media.

• Pay attention to background. Simple backgrounds, like a white sandy beach or green trees, make your dog stand out. “Whether you’re using a phone or a point-and-shoot camera, have your dog at least a dozen feet in front of the background so he’ll be more in focus than whatever’s behind him,” Rotonda says. “Pay attention to color, too: No black backgrounds for black dogs, brown backgrounds for brown dogs, and so on.”

• Get creative and playful. Lots of full-body shots taken from 10 feet away can get mighty dull. “Get up close so your dog fills the entire frame,” Rotonda says. “Get even closer so you get the full effect of that long, wet nose. Photograph your dog head on, in profile, at 45-degree angles. And don’t get hung up on perfection. The best shots are often the spontaneous ones.”

• Think fashion. Dressing up your dog or having them donning a hat often enhances the humor or visual appeal. “It adds personality to your dog,” Rotonda says, “if you can get them to sit still long enough.”

• Be in burst mode. This means putting a phone camera on “burst” to capture as many pictures sequentially as possible. “You know how difficult it can be to keep your dog’s attention and pose them,” Rotonda says. “So just start shooting while you’re trying to get their attention. In burst mode you’re more likely to capture the moment you want.”

• Zoom in. Rather than get up close to your dog’s face – they’ll quickly get distracted – Rotonda suggests a zoom from a distance to catch expressions when they’re not always aware you’re looking.

“Social media is all about connecting,” Rotonda says, “and really, nobody connects humans better than dogs.”