This article is part of our BarkPost Wedding vertical, The Dogified Wedding, full of tips and tricks for creative ways to include your dog on the big day!
A bridal party should include those most important to the couple and for many people that means their pup!
This is a big day and Shelby Semel of Shelby’s Dog Training in New York suggests taking the following into consideration when deciding to have your dog in your wedding party:
— Can my dog handle this?
— Is my dog well socialized or does he get nervous?
— Is she okay being separated from her owner?
— The dog will be housed elsewhere for most of the party – can they handle that?
This guy can handle anything!
Think your pup is on board? Then decide what you want your pup to do!
A Walk Down The Aisle
If you want them to walk down the aisle on their own start training four to six months before the big day. There will be lots of crying people and cameras and it might confuse your pup if they’re not prepared.
Semel suggests having someone at the wedding who is not a guest, but is well known to your dog, like a friend, dog sitter, or dog walker, who can be in charge of making sure your furry friend is comfortable.
Semel recommends using a light basket, gift baggy, or a box with a handle to carry the rings or flowers. Make sure you don’t use wicker or something that could hurt your pup’s mouth. Start training with something with a handle and practice “take it” and “hold it” with a variety of items.
When your dog is comfortable with those commands you can move on to the “come” portion of training.
If your dog gets nervous with people staring at them, start practicing “come” in more difficult locations, like an enclosed backyard with a crowd of people looking on. This will help acclimate your dog and will give you a sense of their readiness.
Also, not all dogs will be inclined to carry the basket down the aisle themselves and that is okay! You can always tie the rings or flowers to their collar and have a human flower girl or ring bearer walk them down the aisle. (It may help if they have treats! 🙂 )
If you want your pup in your wedding pictures start getting them used to having their picture taken. Many dogs don’t like cameras or get nervous in front of them, so this is a good time to start getting them used to the camera.
You can also include your pup in your engagement photos, both for fun and as a back up (just in case they’re too stressed on the actual day to sit through wedding photos).
For those of you who want your dog to wear something cute, like a bowtie or dress, now is the time to practice with them in the outfit and make sure they like it and are comfortable. By the big day they should be accustomed to whatever outfit they are wearing.
Also, if you have a dog that marks, take this into consideration when choosing your aisle decorations and steer away from flowers or tree branches. You want to make sure he isn’t even considering marking on your big day.
The Big Day!
You made it to the day! Things to be mindful of during this time are guests with allergies or a fear of dogs. Point these people out to whomever is minding your dog so they can steer clear of them.
A dog under a lot of stress may eliminate, so have your dog-watcher make sure they are going on frequent bathroom breaks throughout the day, especially before they are needed to walk down the aisle.
If your dog is in the wedding photos make their appearance short and sweet. For a 3pm photo Semel recommends that your dog arrive at 2:54, does a quick pee, takes pictures for five to ten minutes max and is then whisked away until ceremony time.
Make sure you have treats to reward your pup and have them do a sit, a down and a stay. For these photos ask the photographer to stand further away and use a zoom.
These tips will ensure that your dog is less stressed at your wedding and that they’re just as happy to be there as you are to have them!