With the help of a tennis ball (that's what he's looking at so intently) and lots and lots of treats, Duke reluctantly agreed to "sit" for another portrait this week. This was pure torture for the dog. But he was a very good sport -- plus, he'll do just about anything for food (which I can relate to).
Using the Christmas tree as a background is the ol' standby for Christmas portraits. To get the background effect you see above, you need is a "fast" lens with a large aperture (this was my 85mm f/1.8 lens) to produce a shallow depth of field -- which will throw the entire background out-of-focus. The other consideration is lighting -- anytime you shoot indoors, lighting can be tricky. Using a gray card to set the white balance on your camera is a big help -- or try the different pre-set white balance settings on your camera (most likely "tungsten" will work best). You don't realize how our indoor lighting 'colors' our rooms (and thus our photos) until you start experimenting with the white-balance.