I love my pooch, and most dogs for that matter! I especially love photographing dogs at weddings. When I’m not photographing and editing weddings I volunteer my time for Mayhew – a brilliant animal charity based in North West London. Mayhew is one of the most effective animal welfare organisations in London, helping thousands of dogs and cats to escape a life of abandonment, cruelty and neglect each year. Their mission is to help animals in need gain a better quality of life by delivering a broad range of community-based animal care, education and welfare projects.
Being an animal lover I can completely understand when a couple want to involve their dog on their wedding day. However I know that my dog is a bit special and I would need to carefully consider how he would fit in to a big event like a wedding. I spoke with Deputy Head of Animal Welfare, Tanya Madden at Mayhew for some top tips to think about when planning to include your dogs at weddings.
- Think about the personality of the dog, will he cope with being at the wedding? What is he like when he is with new people, in crowds, around children and with unfamiliar people? Is he going to become scared, snap, be stressed or pee up anyone’s dress?! A wedding is not a suitable place for all dogs
- We advise not to dress up dogs in outfits, this is because they can be too constrictive, become stressed and get too hot etc. It is far better to use a bandana, fancy collar or snazzy lead if you want to co-ordinate your pet with the wedding theme. Be sure to check that anything attached to the collar (like flowers or a bow-tie) or lead isn’t going to come off and end up getting swallowed.
- Think about the time of year of the wedding what is the weather going to be like – if it’s a hot day, don’t keep him out in the sun or make him walk on hot pavements (remember the 5 second rule! If you can’t hold your hand on the ground for 5 seconds it’s too hot for a dog to walk on). Does he have anywhere to sit in the shade? If it’s cold, keep your dog out of drafts and keep him dry.
- Most importantly don’t leave the dog unattended –in a car/cage etc.
- Always make sure he has access to water.
- Make sure none of your guests are tempted to give him a few wedding treats, you won’t want to be clearing up vomit or taking a trip the vets on your wedding night!
- Make sure you have a dedicated person who will take care of the dog and all his needs – keep his routine as normal as possible, don’t disrupt his feeding, make sure the person taking care of the dog knows him well and knows what his reactions will be to people and to look out for signs that he is becoming stressed and will know when it is time for him to leave.
- Don’t expect too much from your dog and try to pack him into you busy wedding schedule – make sure he has time for toilet breaks and quiet time away from everyone.
- Don’t keep him there for the full day as it will be too stressful, just have him pop in if you really want him there and plan where he will be for the rest of the day – take him home or to be with a dog sitter–don’t leave him alone at home for longer than he is used to.
- Make sure your guests know not to constantly fuss the dog – especially if there will be a lot of children around, your dog handler should know when the dog has had enough and will need to take the dog away and ask people to give him space.
- You’ll want the dog to enjoy being with you and he can be a part of your day, if you plan things right and consider all his needs – just keep it short and sweet.
For more advice on dogs at weddings check out my previous blog post in this series with advice from a wedding pet chaperone. If you are looking for more ideas of how to style your dog on your wedding day, check out my pinterest page here.
Scroll down to see some of the photos that I have taken for Mayhew doing their excellent work in the community.
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