Today’s critique comes from artist Sarah Miller. She created this pet portrait for a friend in Pastels and chalk. This is a really fun piece with a nice drawing that I’m sure your friend loved!
Taking a look at some things we can adjust to improve on this even more, first let’s look at your reference photo. If I were being hired to do a pet portrait this is not a photo I would work from. You can’t see what you need to to achieve the realism that you said was your goal. Beyond that, the lighting is bad so you can’t see the real shadows and highlights, especially in the white fur. The end result is a drawing that feels unfinished.
The one thing I do like about this photo is the position of the dog. The thing is, in order for this position to look right, you will need to include the couch so that you can see the dog is leaning against something. Drawing him in this position without the couch arm leaves the dog looking a bit misshaped.
While you can’t see what you need to in the texture of this guy’s fur, this is a common enough breed that you will have no trouble finding photos on the internet with much higher resolution and better lighting. I’m not suggesting you steal someone’s photo and draw that instead, I’m only suggesting taking a better photo so that you can see the details you need and applying it to this dog.
My last tip is to remember not to ever leave white fur solid white. You have some shading but not nearly enough. White reflects what is around it so very little in your portraits will ever be solid white. It will look flat if you leave it white. Pull in all of those other colors and shadows!