It is not uncommon these days to see photos or hear stories of how the bride and groom incorporated their four-legged bestie into their very special wedding day. Being a wedding coordinator and a registered veterinary technician, I wanted to shed some light on animal behavior to make sure if you are planning on having your “fur baby” in your wedding day that they are a good candidate and will not become overly stressed and you not even realize it. Below you will find common signs of what is called “FAS” in the veterinary world, Fear, Anxiety, and Stress. If you see your sweet pup exhibiting any of these traits in a crowded or public scenario, chances are they would be happier celebrating your union at home after your wedding than being in the center of all the hustle bustle of a busy, joyous wedding event.
Signs of “FAS”:
- Low head carriage
- Tucked tail or even a “c-shaped” downward angle tail
- “The whale eye” (where the “white of your dog’s eyes” are visible,usually side glances)
- Brows furrowed, ears flattened or side to side
- Cowering, moving in slow motion, walking slow/low to the floor
- Panting or licking of the lips (when no food is nearby)
- Acting sleepy or tired/yawning (when they should not be tired)
- Hypervigilant (looking in many directions)
- Pacing, moving away when you approach them
All of these are signs of fear, anxiety, or stress in our canine friends. As these signs progress or go left unlistened to the likelihood of our furry pals becoming fearful to the point of aggression increases. No one wants our beloved pets to be stressed and we definitely don’t want little nephew Timmy to get bitten at your wedding due to Fluffy’s signs of stress being missed. Most dogs will usually give “warning signs” (see the list above) prior to becoming aggressive. It’s our job as dog owners to know those signs before Fluffy feels as though she has to become aggressive in order for her wishes to be heard and her humans to help get her out of an uncomfortable scenario.
All this to say that before you include Fluffy on your wedding day make sure Fluffy has a personality that loves big, loud, crowded events and is not being accidentally put into a scenario that does not set her up for success to enjoy your wedding. The exception to this may be if you are having a small elopement then this may be the perfect way to include your beloved pooch and not accidently over-stimulate her. Otherwise you may want to weigh the pros/cons of risking things like your dog becoming anxious during the ceremony, barking during the vows, going potty where they shouldn’t (after all they don’t realize that the gazebo is where their humans are going to stand to get married), or worst case scenario becoming aggressive due to overstimulation.
Photo credit: Maddie Kay Photography