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Birthday shindigs aren’t just for humans. Pooch parties with furry attendees are the latest cause for celebration. From “pupcakes” and doggy ball pits to trendy water bowl bars with cucumber garnishes, pet parents are spoiling their fur kids with social-media-worthy soirees.
But if you’re a new dog owner, you may need some ideas for the perfect party for your tail-wagging friend. Here are the top tips and tricks for throwing the ultimate canine birthday bonanza, whether you’re commemorating your dog’s actual date of birth or its adoption day.
Is Your Pup Spotlight Ready?
Before the merrymaking commences, consider whether your dog can handle a party in his or her honor. Not all dogs like attention — some don’t take kindly to strangers or other dogs — but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a day of recognition. You know your pup best, so tailor the event according to his or her needs.
If your furry friend isn’t a social butterfly, maybe he or she would prefer to enjoy birthday cake at home with only you for company. Or maybe you can invite a select few humans with whom your dog feels comfortable. If you’re celebrating a senior dog, be sure to provide plenty of breaks so your canine won’t get too overwhelmed. Remember, the party is for your pup and you want him or her to have the best day possible.
Find a Dog-Friendly Venue
The first item on the checklist of puppy party planning is to find the ideal location. Let your dog enjoy the limelight at a place where it can frolic, such as a local doggie daycare, agility course, beach or dog park.
Alternatively, if you have a good-sized yard, your home may be the best and least expensive venue where four-legged friends can run around, expend energy and thoroughly enjoy themselves. Be sure to also keep the weather in mind and limit the bash to about two hours so the dogs won’t get cranky or tired.
Create a Guest List
Who wouldn’t want to attend a party where a bunch of happy pups will play freely, misbehave joyously and have hours of fun? Meanwhile, their humans will get to mix and mingle. Once you determine who you will invite, it will be easier to decide on the location and theme.
Consider the temperaments of your friends’ dogs. And If you’re inviting children to the party, take note of their ages and experience with animals. You may need to balance the amount of supervision for both children and canines.
Pick Out Invitations
While social media invitations may be convenient, tangible ones that are tied to your theme can add a great personal touch. Visit your local stationary store or look online for fun invitations. If your pup will be the only canine in attendance, make sure to inform your guests.
Choose a Theme
Whether you’re throwing an epic birthday fete or an intimate gathering, deck out your venue to create the perfect backdrop for photos. You can opt for a black-tie affair, holiday theme or costume party. For decorations, consider putting up photos of your furry friend, creating a slideshow of your greatest selfies together, hanging streamers, adding banners or looking online for puppy planning kits.
Festive theme ideas include:
- Water party and luau
- Winter wonderland
- Backyard barbecue
- Pet pamper party
Play Dress Up
Get canine and human pals into the birthday spirit with party hats. You can buy them custom-made for dogs or make your own by gluing poster board or foam paper into a cone shape and decorating with tassels and pom poms.
If your pooch is a fan of clothing or accessories, you can dress him or her up in a bandana, bow tie, crown or even a special birthday outfit. Any of these will make amusing props for the birthday photos! And don’t forget to create a special hashtag when uploading the pictures to social media.
Set Ground Rules
Your furry attendees may not all get along. Therefore, it may be wise to establish a few rules and regulations for the pup play area. Inform pet owners of these rules for a fun and safe shindig:
- Pet owners should accompany their dogs inside the play area and keep tabs on them at all times.
- Keep waste bags handy so pet parents can easily take care of messes. You can even purchase bags in festive colors that match your theme.
- Consider scheduling mini bathroom breaks so the dogs can take care of their business all at once.
- Pet owner should carry leashes so they can escort their fussy pups away from the play area in case there are any problems or aggression between pooches.
Serve Pup-Safe Fare
What’s a birthday celebration without treats and libations? Surely, you weren’t planning on serving the same old kibble? Checkout these creative, delicious and healthy canine-friendly alternatives:
- Meat cakes
- Mini omelets
- Apple pretzels
- Healthy pumpkin “puppuccino”
- Homemade chicken jerky
- Watermelon “pupsicles”
- Yogurt, peanut butter and banana frozen dog treats
If you want something simpler, try serving several dog-friendly appetizers in bowls. These can include chopped carrots, apple slices, pieces of chicken breast or your canine’s favorite treats. It’s a good idea to find out ahead of time what your friends feed their pets and if their dogs are allergic to certain foods. Steer clear of anything that can be highly toxic to dogs, such as chocolate and avocados.
These are a definite no-go for your four-legged friend’s party — and any other time. Make bowls of fresh water available so the party guests and birthday dog can stay hydrated. For human attendees, consider whipping up dog-themed treats such as puppy chow snack food, “fetch” pretzel sticks, mini hotdogs and sandwiches cut into bone shapes. There also are several beers with dog-themed names that would fit the bill. Or go the classier route with a custom cocktail in honor of your pup’s special day.
Bake or Order a Custom Birthday Cake
Your dog can have his or her cake and eat it, too. Local pet supply stores will likely carry birthday-themed treats, but you can always make your pup’s cake from scratch with a recipe found online. You can even purchase canine birthday cake kits that come with all the necessities, such as mix, frosting, candles and even a bone-shaped baking pan.
Not the baker type? Consider researching area dog-centric bakeries that specialize in cakes and pupcakes — mini cupcakes — for dogs. These drool-worthy treats are typically available in flavors such as peanut butter and topped with toasted coconut, milk bones, vegan sprinkles, bacon bits or filets. From personalized bags of treats and cookies to doughnuts and birthday cakes, you can order just about any kind of doggy delights to be shipped to your door in time for your pup’s big day.
Plan Dog-Friendly Games and Activities
Add some excitement with a little competition! Take your dog’s birthday bash up a notch with these entertaining activities:
- Dog obstacle course — Get creative by setting up an agility course where the dogs can run through tunnels and jump off ramps. Make sure they take turns running the course, as allowing more than one dog at a time could lead to injuries. For the most obedient competitors, you can award small toys or treats.
- Costume contest — What’s cuter than a bunch of fur kids dressed up in costumes? In your invitation, ask guests to bring their dog in costume and see what kind of funny characters arrive. The pup with the best costume wins a prize.
- Doggy ball pit — If your celebration takes place during the summer, consider making your own doggy ball pit by filling a kiddie pool or a contained outdoor area with large plastic balls. Then watch the shenanigans ensue!
- Relaxation area — Create an area for dogs to retreat and relax. Opt for a shady area and supply it with pillows or blankets for dogs that need a break from the action.
Don’t Forget the Doggy Favors
Keep the fun going after the party is over by handing out pup-friendly goodie bags filled with some special gifts. Choose from:
- Artisanal dog treats or cookies
- Packets of pet wipes
- Dog bones or jerky sticks
- Samples of high-end dog food
- Coupons for pet supply stores
- Squeak toys or tennis balls
Goodie bags are a great way to thank both the dogs and their owners, who can always make use of the treats. Or you can forgo gifts entirely and suggest that guests make a donation to a local animal shelter of your choosing. This is a great option to support and celebrate other dogs in the community.
Use these handy tips, and you’ll soon be an expert at celebrating your dog’s annual trip around the sun. Canine birthday gatherings may be filled with ample amounts of noise, excitement, fun, slobber and even chaos, but they happen only once a year. When you go all out to make the celebration fun, you’ll be sure to have a dog day to remember.