Updated: Jan 9
Wedding invitations? Check.
Bridesmaids dresses? Check.
Is Fido ready to strut their stuff as ring bearer?
How can I know for sure!?
Having a dog attend a wedding is an insanely cute idea, and might initially sound like a fun and easy task. But what if your dog isn’t a fan of crowds, or doesn’t like to play dress up in that super cute bow tie or bandana you have your heart set on?
At Black Dog & Company, we speak from personal experience as brides who have included our four-legged family members in our wedding days. Here are three points to help prepare you and your dog for their important role in your wedding day.
Walk your dog on leash for 20 minutes daily.
When your pup has leash manners, life gets a whole lot easier for your Wedding Dog Attendant to handle and display your dog on your big day. If your dog is already a star at being obedient on walks, try mixing it up a little by guiding your dog over obstacles. Stepping over logs, walking up and down stairs, navigating curbs or playground structures are all mentally stimulating for your pup. Learning to traverse different footings like grass, stone, sand, or asphalt can build dexterity. Looking for even more creative walking ideas? Try leading your dog on both your left and right side, or suddenly changing direction to keep them alert to your presence instead of predictably walking in one direction. If your pup is licking their lips, if their ears are changing direction, or if they glance up to check in with you during your walks, you know they’re paying attention.
Planning a wedding is no stress-free task, so taking your dog on a twenty minute walk can be therapeutic for you as well. These walks can help alleviate stress while you strengthen your bond with your dog. Incorporating the techniques listed above can help clear the mind while your strengthen your bond with your dog, while simultaneously teaching them to expect the unexpected on your wedding day.
Be aware of potential distractions or sources of over-stimulation.
Take some time to think about, or even write a list about, what your dog will be exposed to on your wedding day. What is your wedding venue like? Is it outdoors with lots of smells? Will there be booming loud speakers? Will there be hundreds of people milling about? Taking the time to consider what your day will look like in advance, and what your dog might need to navigate the event, will help avoid a potentially stressful day for both you and your dog.
Once you have a list of potential problem points, build a plan. Maybe you want your dog to sport a super cute tuxedo for the wedding, but know they aren’t a fan of wearing clothes and might put up a fight. Start working with them months in advance to work up to your desired outcome. Drape towels over their back, followed immediately by big praise and treats from you. After that, try adding a bandana. Make them sport it for twenty minutes at a time, gradually working up to a whole day. Never forget to give out big praise and treats for every good job done. Step it by adding a costume (rather than jumping right into the fancy tux) at twenty minute intervals, increasing to a few hours at a time. While they are playing dress-up, handle your dog by walking them, playing with their paws, giving belly rubs, etc. Practise makes perfect! Before you know it, this problem point for your dog will become a bragging point for you.
Identify your dog’s unique traits and work it!
Don’t focus too much on the negative. After all, your dog is your best friend and someone special that you want to show off on your big day! If you have a high energy dog that seeks out attention, take advantage of that energy by teaching them some new tricks. This will make for some of the most memorable moments and adorable photo-ops during your wedding day. I speak from personal experience.
My boy Flynn was a very smart, higher energy dog and was always enthusiastic with playing dress up. My husband and I spent some time leading up the wedding reinforcing treat training to get him refocused, otherwise he would have fed off of the energy of every person in the room. Some of my favourite wedding pictures were seeing my boy Flynn get ready with my husband and my grandfather (pictured below). Flynn was a real ham for the camera and had a crush on our photographer. He definitely played it up that day! Focusing on what makes your pup unique will ensure you get your own memorable moments on your big day.
Dog owners often stress over what their dog will do on their wedding day. These three tips can help you to alleviate that stress and focus on the most important thing to do with your dog. Have fun! You’ve stressed enough about planning the day, so just remember above all else your dog will be thrilled to be hanging out their humans! It’s been scientifically proven that dogs reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Take time to enjoy their presence. They are a gift to your everyday life, and your wedding day shouldn’t be any different.