A little while ago, someone asked how I feel about dogs participating in weddings. Personally, I love dogs 🐶🐶🐶 but I've never had an event where a pet was involved!
Of course, having a dog in a wedding would be fantastic! Talk about adding a personal touch to the ceremony! I can only imagine how adorable the pictures would be! On the other hand, there would definitely be some things to consider as you prepare for the big day!
I reached out to my good friend Kim Rollen from Jewels Pet Care LLC for advice on the topic!
There are so many things to consider when including a dog in your special day. I think the biggest, overarching consideration is to be realistic. If your dog does not normally do well in new locations and/or around crowds of strangers, it may not be the best idea. You want your pet to have a good time too!
If you decide your dog can handle the stressors of an event, consider the following suggestions!
1) Have a person, ideally a professional handler/trainer, to handle your dog during the event. They are going to be attuned to body language and will be better equipped to preemptively intervene. That way you can avoid problems before they happen.
2) Have your handler/trainer work with the dog in advance of the event to tire them out. A tired dog is a good dog. Also, a handler/trainer will make sure the dog has done their "business" in advance of the event. We don't want any leg lifting while going down the aisle!
3) Have your handler/trainer work with the dog at the venue prior to the event. This is really important for several reasons.
A) Dogs don't generalize very well. Just because they sit, stay, come at home does not mean they will do it well in a new environment.
B) Working in the space will allow the trainer to strategize different scenarios and have solutions in mind versus just having to react in the moment. It's important to also have a designated place where your dog can escape if they've had enough!
C) Every opportunity to work with the dog in public is beneficial. It allows the handler/trainer to know how the dog reacts to a variety of situations. For example, when a person approaches, is the dog likely to jump?
4) Have the dog participate in the rehearsal. If it doesn't go well, be flexible and consider a backup plan. It's important to be realistic with this sort of thing.
5) Is the dog going to be in the ceremony or at the reception? If the dog is going to be at the reception, know how they react to loud noises. Some dogs can get very spooked by loud noises like music, cheering, etc. You might want to consider only having the dog in the pictures instead of actually participating in the event.
Essentially, you want to do everything you can to set your dog up for success! You want to be sure the experience is great for you, your dog, and your guests!