One of the sweetest things about weddings today is having man’s (and woman’s) best friend take part in the ceremony. Who doesn’t ooh and aah when they spot a furry friend walking down the aisle with tail wagging and looking their wedding best?
But, as fun and photo-op cute as it is, including your pet in the wedding does require some thought, so we asked renowned dog trainer Victoria Stilwell for a few tips. Victoria, best known for her role as the star of Animal Planet’s hit TV series It’s Me or the Dog, is not only CEO of Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training but also a best-selling book author. Her most recent, Train Your Dog Positively, will be available on March 19th at stores nationwide and online at amazon.com.
Here, Victoria’s advice on what to consider when having your pet in the wedding:
Photo Credit: Ashley Rose Photography on The Vines Leaf via Lover.ly
1. Ask if your dog has what it takes. Weddings can be stressful and overwhelming for a dog that does not adapt well to new environments or is uncomfortable around strangers. Sociable dogs that are outgoing and friendly often cope better with the extra attention they are likely to receive. If your dog is shy and uncomfortable around people, leave him at home where he is safe and secure.
2. Decide what part of the ceremony you would like your dog(s) to attend. Involve your dog in the ceremony but not the reception, as receptions tend to be overwhelming — especially those with an extensive guest list and loud music.
3. Check first to make sure that the venues you choose for your wedding allow dogs. Many have a strict no pet policy.
4. Make sure that you tell your bridesmaids or groomsmen of your intentions before the day. Many people are allergic to dogs, so giving them ample warning will help them prepare if they suffer from allergies.
5. What role is your dog going to play at your wedding? Whether she is the ring bearer or the hound of honor, start preparing early for the tasks she is going to do during the ceremony.
6. Designate a handler that will be with your dog at all times throughout the ceremony. This will relieve any pressure you might feel to make sure that your dog behaves properly.
7. Rehearse as much as you can with your dog before the big day and leave ample time to practice during the actual rehearsal so that your dog (and his or her handler) knows exactly what to do and when to do it.
8. Take a trip to the grooming parlor or wash and groom your dog at home so that he looks and smells good on the big day.
9. Ensure that your dog is well-controlled around your guests. A jumping dog will not be appreciated. If your dog has a tendency to jump up, take time well before the day to teach him an alternative behavior, such as greeting a person by sitting and giving his paw rather than jumping up. If his excitement level is too high, he might find it hard to control his impulses — in which case, keep him leashed and controlled at all times.
10. Do not forget to include your dog in some wedding pictures!
Need ideas? Enjoy these fab photos of couples’ adorable pets all decked out on the big day.
For more fantastic tips on caring for your pooch check out Victoria’s website, positively.com.