How to Train Your Dog for Your Wedding

Will your beloved pet cooperate down the aisle?

Gather tips on how to train your pup before you decide to include them in the ceremony!

Photo: Marisa Holmes

As more and more couples are cohabitating before their wedding day, a popular “next step” to take is to get a pet together. Although all pets are loved in their own ways, dogs are typically the only ones asked to participate in a wedding ceremony, due to their ability to be trained and their comfort in large spaces or the outdoors. A parakeet might be trained, but you don’t want to risk your bird flying away with the rings! While pups are usually the best choice for having an animal involved in your nuptials, there are still steps to take to help things go smoothly. However, keep in mind the adage of W.C. Fields: “Never work with children or animals.” We’re certainly not saying you shouldn’t; after all, most weddings have either one or another. It’s simply a reminder that the behavior of pets and young children is not always predictable. But that doesn’t mean you can’t tip the odds in your favor!

how to prepare your dog to be in your wedding

Photo by Simply Splendid Photography

First, before you commit to including your pup, make sure that it is allowed by the venue. Additionally, you want your guests to be comfortable, so if you have loved ones with allergies to pet dander or a severe fear of dogs (this most likely only applies if you have a bigger pooch) you may want to reconsider the plan and instead get creative with the décor to highlight the love you have for your dog. 

Unlike your human wedding party, you will need more than one rehearsal to get ready for the big day. Only you know the temperament of your dog, but it’s important to determine if a leash or a wagon is needed, or if the pup will be easily coaxed down the aisle by a designated person. Having plenty of treats on hand is key. Once the ceremony is over, make sure there is a plan in place for your dog. Will they be taken home before the reception? If there a space on the venue for your pet to take a break from the crowd? These are logistics to figure out before committing to the plan of having a dog as a ring bearer or flower girl. 

For more ideas, discover 10 ways to include your pup in the wedding and get an expert's tips on the subject. Learn how grooms can be more involved in the planning process and how to provide shade for your guests at summer weddings.