Tips & Tricks: Including Your Dog In Your Wedding

josevilla.jpg

A widely trending, charming decision made by many couples this year: including their special furry friend in the wedding

{& I don’t mean the best man}

I’m head over heels in LOVE with the idea of having your pet in the wedding! I, as well as tons of other dog moms, see my dog as my actual baby. He goes everywhere with me, he sleeps between my boyfriend and I, he has his own Instagram for goodness sakes – he is 100% without a doubt a major part of our little family.

I trust pet parents’ judgment when it comes to dishing out wedding duties to their dogs, but I have to stress the importance of determining whether your pet is a good fit for such a big event. First, ask yourselves these three questions:

  1. Does my widdle baby bear cub do well with people (of all ages and genders) and crowds?
  2. Will I be willing to ensure their comfort and safety on top of trying to handle my wedding?
  3. Are they trained to be acceptable wedding guests? (no jumping to snatch Aunt Marlene’s slice of cake, no humping the maid of honor, no marking their territory on a custom-cathedral length veil)

These are important, people. You want to be sure your wedding won’t send your pup into a spiral of anxiety – which in turn may send you into a spiral of anxiety. You don’t want accidents, injuries, or a lost dog because they couldn’t handle a large crowd or they bit a bridesmaid. According to (MY ACTUAL HERO) Cesar Milan, dogs are a reflection of your energy. Weddings are exciting and sometimes stressful and dogs will resort to their most effective method of communication: instinct.

sophiekawalek.jpg

After you’ve decided that Max can handle the environment, it’s time to plan how you will care for him in the midst of your big day! The following tips will ensure a happy, healthy dog and a perfect wedding day:

Pack His Bags

Just as you’ll pack your own wedding day “emergency kit,” you’ll want to set some time aside to pack up everything your baby will need for a long day of exciting activities. The kit should include:

  • Two servings of their food
  • Water bottles and designated food/water bowls
  •  A favorite “snuggly” toy (Goose has a stuffed rhino he really loves – the softer and more comforting, the better)
  • A favorite “busy” toy (Kongs, Antlers, peanut butter filled bones, etc.)
  • Treats (for rewarding good behavior throughout the day – keep ’em focused!)
  • A card with veterinary information (a number, location, etc.)
  • A harness & extra leash
  • Pepto Bismol (in the event a chocolate truffle, a peony from the bride’s bouquet, or anything else is eaten – the rule is 1 teaspoon per 5 lbs.)

Designate A Handler

This is HUGE! Even I (the obsessive, self-proclaimed second dog whisperer) don’t want my dog to be my main concern on my wedding day; it’s YOUR day! If you want your dog included but don’t want to have sole responsibility, designate a trusted handler. It may be a groomsman, bridesmaid, usher, parent or certified trainer. They should be someone you and your dog trust. You’ll want to work out a schedule for getting your dog to the ceremony/reception, when they’ll eat/go potty, where you plan on containing your dog and how the dog will get home.

Keep ‘Em Busy

The same goes for any kids attending your big day – you want to keep them busy and out of trouble! A mid-day walk would exert some energy. How about a quick trip to the dog park between ceremony and reception? You want them to be alert for pictures, so determine when you think they should get some exercise. As mentioned, chew toys are a good option for keeping them busy at the venue.

Calm, Cool & Collected

As many of ya’ll know, Goose is a french bulldog. The breed is incredibly heat sensitive and (being the paranoid lunatic that I am) I’m always making sure he’s wearing his cooling collar or cooling vest. If you have a bracycephalic dog at an outdoor wedding – keeping them cool is a must. Make sure water is available at all times as well as a shady spot. I’d even purchase a cooling pad if it was necessary. A cool dog is a calm dog.

A Safe Space

Our little Goose loves people, but I was really surprised by his behavior last month during my boyfriend’s graduation party. There was about 40 people in one sitting, and while Goose usually loves to socialize with our friends and family, he was confused and anxious and didn’t know what to do with himself. He just sat in one spot. We’ve crate trained him to know his crate is his safe space so we decided to alternate him between the crate and the party. He was much happier! Giving your dog a safe space at the venue (in which no other guests are allowed) will ensure his comfort. It can be a crate or simply a corralled area with his toys and water bowl. Added bonus: when weird Uncle Alan starts slurring his speech, you can go hide in there too!

abbyjiuphotography

You can decide to only have your dog at the ceremony or reception, or forgo having your pup present at all. Believe it or not, some dogs would prefer a day of napping on the couch over attending your wedding. You can still incorporate your fur-baby into your planning with a custom cake topper, or table numbers! Happy trails & happy tails.

IMAGES: JOSE VILLA, SOPHIE KAWALEK, ABBY JIU, KT MERRY

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s