Increasing numbers of people now want their best four-legged friend at their wedding. So, how should you prepare your pooch for your big day?
Dog trainer Darren James, MD of Royvon Dog Training has worked with many customers to ensure their pet dog makes a positive contribution on their wedding day.
Darren advises dog owners to plan ahead when considering adding a pooch to the guest list. He has come up with several useful tips.
Ensure your wedding venue allows dogs
It would seem obvious, but it’s amazing how some couples forget to ask. Whilst many venues are now dog-friendly some still are not, particularly when it comes to churches and chapels. Some venues allow dogs in outside areas but not inside. So make sure your dog is welcome before making any plans or see if the venue will make a special concession for you.
Allocate a minder
Decide who will be the dog’s carer for the day and ask them in advance so they are prepared. No matter how dedicated you are to your dog it’s just not possible to be with them all day, particularly during the ceremony itself. So find a friend who can take care of your dog during the time they are there, preferably someone your dog is familiar with and who knows how to handle your pet.
Plan the dog’s day and get them trained
Think through what your dog will be doing during the day. How much do you want them to be involved? Dogs can be easily be trained to deliver the rings during the service, carry the train (although the dress design would need to be considered), be part of the wedding procession on the walk up the aisle or perhaps act as a ‘flower’ dog. If you do want your dog to take part allow plenty of time for pre-wedding for training.
Dealing with crowds and unfamiliar places
Can your dog handle being amongst crowds of people? And does their behaviour change when they are in unfamiliar places, perhaps becoming more excited or anxious in these situations? Again, training can help overcome dealing with a crowd. Taking your dog to crowded places and events regularly on the run up to the wedding will help. The same applies to the venue. Make sure you visit with your dog and take them when you run through rehearsals. This will help to minimise any additional curiosity or anxiousness and ensure they are calmer on the day.
Keeping your dog in the picture
You will no doubt want to have your dog’s attendance at the wedding included in the wedding album. Make sure you talk to the photographer about how this could work and the photos you want. Training will help to make sure they are obedient when it comes to commands to stay and sit. Don’t forget to ensure that your allocated minder has a pocket of treats to encourage your dog’s best behaviour. This is especially useful when it comes to sitting still for photos!
Will your dog get a good reception?
Consider what happens during the wedding reception, especially when guests are eating. You might be happy to have your dog around at mealtimes but it’s not acceptable to everyone. And if your dog has a tendency to beg or snatch food then it best to keep them away at this time. In which case, you need to plan where they will go. Is it a good time for a long walk, can they stay in a room at the venue or should they be taken home at this point?
If you’ve considered all of these points, and are keen to go ahead with having your dog attend your wedding, also remember the following:
- Ensure your nominated dog carer is aware of all the plans and timings for the day.
- Make sure there is water available throughout the day, especially if the wedding is during the hot summer months.
- Do you need food available too? Weddings can be hungry work!
- Run through the commands and training with your dog prior to the service.
- Ensure your dog is under control at all times.
Darren James knows that you don’t have to be barking mad to have your dog at your wedding. His customers are proof that it can work and, with proper planning and training, there can be lots of fun and wagging tails all round!
Royvon Dog Training and Dog Hotels have three locations in the UK visit www.royvon.co.uk or call 0208 819 7374 to speak to one of the trainers about including your dog at your wedding.