Involving your dog on your wedding day

For many people, their pooch is a four-legged best friend, so it’s understandable that it simply wouldn’t feel right to celebrate their special day without them.

As weddings have now returned, and more venues are happy to welcome furry friends, it’s an exciting time for many!

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “The idea of bringing your dog along to your wedding is a wonderful one, but you’ll need to prepare well in advance. Here’s our list of things to consider when proposing to make your dog ‘pooch of honour’.

Dog friendly venue

“Once your pup has accepted their wedding invitation, it’s important to check whether the venue is suitable for them to spend the day. With all the excitement around planning a wedding, a few simple necessities might slip your mind. Ensuring your dog has a safe space indoors to ‘take time out’ is essential – it can be hard work being the centre of attention and you’ll want them to enjoy themselves. You’ll need to consider where they can stretch their legs, go to the toilet or relax away from the festivities.”

Designated doggy sitter

“Make sure you have one specific person who will be in sole charge of your dog as you and your spouse will be very busy! Make sure they know each other well and arrange this well in advance. Knowing that a reliable friend or relative is caring for your dog, making sure they have regular ‘time outs’ snacks and toilet breaks, will take unnecessary stress off your shoulders. If your pooch does become weary or stressed, your dog carer can take them home and settle them without disrupting the celebrations.

Their role

“You know your pooch better than anyone else, so it’s important to ensure they have an appropriate role on the day! Calmer, well-behaved pups might like a front-of-house job such as ring bearer or ‘best dog’. To avoid anxiety, opt for a shiny new collar, rather than dressing them up. For lively dogs, they may enjoy joining as a guest once the ceremony has ended.

Preparations

“If you are planning on having a wedding rehearsal, take your four-legged friend along with you to settle any pre-wedding nerves. Helping them acclimatise to their new surroundings not only provides familiarity, but it can also give you a snapshot of how things might go on the day. If your pet has an important role in the wedding, it may be a good idea to do reward-based training in advance, helping  to ensure both you and your pooch feel comfortable in their ability to perform on the day.

Pooch-proof the area

“Traditional wedding or chocolate cake and alcohol are likely to be a part of the day, don’t forget that they are highly toxic to your pet. Ask guests not to feed your dog, – no matter how guilty those puppy eyes may make them feel! Alcohol, dancing and dogs don’t mix well either, so prevent any mishaps by keeping your dog well out of the way.

“During meal times, take your pup to their safe space in order to prevent them from guzzling up accidental treats dropped on the floor! Spending a bit of time researching the flowers and decorations is also a good move, as some plants and flowers can also be dangerous for guests with inquisitive snouts.”