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Is there anything more crowd-pleasing at a wedding than a dog ring bearer? (Besides an open bar, maybe.) Watching a pooch trot down the aisle like "I got this," with a ring pillow affixed to its collar, is delightful—but also potentially unpredictable.
That's why we chatted with Ruff Club doggie daycare co-owner Alexia Simon Frost (whose mini Australian Shepherd, Leo, brought the awww's on her big day) about how to train your pup for the ceremony. Read on for a few tricks.
Make sure your dog won't crack under pressure.
"It's certainly not something I would recommend for everyone," Alexia says of handing over ring bearer duties to your pooch. "It really depends on the dog. The dog would have to not be afraid of crowds, and at the same time they can't be bark-y. You don't want them whining to get your attention in the middle of the ceremony."
'I think you could make it happen with most dogs, as long as they're not going to be incredibly fearful. Remember, they're going to be walking down the aisle with all of these people staring at them. Some dogs just put on the brakes, or will growl if someone tries to pet them on the way up."
Practice walking you pup in large crowds.
"There are going to be a lot of people there," Alexia says. "Start taking your dog for walks on crowded streets before the wedding. That should be easy in New York!"
Get that dog a bow tie.
Alexia recommends checking out the stalls at the Hester Street Fair for doggie accessories.
Put those rings where your dog can't eat them.
"Our rings were in a small jewelry bag that we clipped to the back of Leo's bow tie. I was actually at a wedding recently where the dog was the ring bearer, too. It was a golden retriever, so he was bigger, and the couple just tied the ring pillow to his leg."
Play fetch before the wedding.
Alexia's advice: "Make sure you get your dog lots of exercise so they're not all would up."
Don't let your dog go rogue.
"Our nephew walked Leo down the aisle on a leash," Alexia says. "Then he handed the leash to my parents, who were in the front row, and Leo passed out."
Have a doggie exit plan in place.
"Arrange to have someone who is not a guest at your wedding come and take them as soon as the ceremony is over, or as soon as they finish walking down the aisle. You don't want to have to worry about your dog at the reception."
But if you do bring your pup to the reception, get them a cake.
"A lot of people will get their dog a special cake from a doggie bakery on their wedding day, to make sure that they also have something special happening. They look like regular cakes, they have icing and everything, but they're made with dog-friendly ingredients."
Consider dog-themed wedding favors.
"I knew a couple who had special sodas made. They were in glass bottles and they had the labels made with pictures of their dog on them."
Go on a doggie-moon.
Alexia and her husband brought Leo on their honeymoon. "We went out West—we went to Denver, which is a very dog friendly city, and we went to the sand dunes, and we went to Santa Fe. So it was a very outdoorsy trip. We did a lot of hiking."
And if you're more of a cat person…
"You know, there was that article in the Times about that woman who spent a year training her cat to walk on a leash," Alexia says. "So maybe a cat ring bearer can be done!"
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