Dogs are members of the family, and every dog deserves his or her day, especially when that day is full of celebrating, cake, biscuits, games, presents, and cake! One of the most fun times a dog mom or dad can engage in involves hosting a dog birthday party. No one will think you have lost your marbles for wanting to host a birthday party for your dog; in fact, if they think you are a bit off kilter, then don’t invite that friend or relative. They don’t deserve any cake anyways, right!?
Dog birthday parties are all about getting creative. You can opt for a basic but memorable birthday party for your dog and his canine buddies or consider organizing your dog’s birthday party around a theme. Either way, the sky, budget, and memories are limitless. As an event planner, the most important three things to remember before getting started are:
- Where do you want to host the party (indoors, outdoors, in someone’s back yard, your own basement, rental of a facility, what happens if it rains, etc)
- How many guests will be invited of both the human and canine variety
- Are the invited dogs, including your own, well behaved and accepting of other pets, people, and situations?
With those three questions answered, here are some ideas so that you can host a dog birthday party, make memories, and have an event that will long be talked about as the dog years roll along.
Location Location Location
When hosting a party where dogs are included, location is everything. Keep in mind that even the most well behaved dogs may mark their territory, so an outdoor location keeps this issue at bay. Some possibilities for a dog birthday party location include a backyard, the dog park (if they allow closed parties), or a training/daycare facility that rents space out. You’d be surprised how many facilities do this to bring in an extra income and to help serve the people in their community.
If you are worried about dog scuffles, ask people to keep their pets leashed and nearby.
Wherever you have the party, keep in mind that the area should be gated (preferably doubled gated) and the perimeter should be assessed so that dogs cannot escape. Things get hectic at parties, and I know this from hosting and attending dozens of dog-themed parties over the years.
A theme is probably one of the most fun elements of a birthday party. I happen to personally love a traditional birthday theme: Let the party and its activities speak for themselves. You can visit your local party supply store and get ideas by walking the children’s birthday party aisle. If you do prefer a theme, here are a few ideas:
- Snoopy or other dog cartoon characters
- Bones and pawprints
- Puppy love: Hearts and paws
- Hawaiian luau
- Royalty: Think kings, queens, princes, and princesses
- Disney theme: Frozen anyone?
- Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
- Monster Trucks and Cars
Some of the greatest finds for dog birthday parties I purchase at party stores right around the holidays. Halloween is a great time to get supplies and themed items.
Once you have the guests determine, realize that you might want to put a limit on how many human guests, canine guests, and yes, kids, that you allow to the party. To be honest, I’ve had issues at events only when smaller children show up who may scream at, lunge towards, or frighten a dog. Be honest and direct in your invitation about kids and age limits. There are a variety of online invitations you can send out, but I love a good old fashioned hand written invitation on a cute card. Give folks an RSVP and let them know the theme, unless it’s a surprise.
Plan the Events of the Day
Much like a child’s birthday party, you’ll want to keep the canine guests occupied at a dog birthday party in activities that won’t generate conflict. The last thing you want to do is allow dogs to gnaw on bones around each other. Dogs are notoriously nosy by nature and a seemingly innocent sniff towards a dog who is chewing on a bone may be misinterpreted and growling or snapping can ensue. Treats can be given to the dogs, and that is encouraged. But they should be shared by the pet parent and not given where scuffles can ensue. Always ask other pet parents if their dog can have a treat before feeding it. Some dogs have allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients.
Determine what games you will play. Here are a few dog games and activities to get the creative juices flowing:
Using a standard agility hurdle, dogs get their Caribbean groove on with this variation of “How low can you go?” fun. Let the music play while dogs walk under the limbo stick, lowering the bar a notch each round. The last dog to successfully go under the limbo stick without knocking it off wins.
Have each dog line up for some slight of hand and treat. Place a treat into one closed fist, keeping the other fist empty. Ask each dog, “Which hand?” When your dog touches its nose to the fist that contains the treat, reveal the treat and reward your dog. For a competitive spin, time each dog. The quickest canine is dubbed the winner.
Set up a few mats on the floor, just as you would when playing the human counterpart version. Dogs must go to their mats and sit when the music stops. Before the music starts again, remove one mat. Owners may encourage their dogs, but no pushing or pulling is allowed. The last dog with a mat wins.
Remember the childhood game “Simon Says”? Dogs form a line in front of the “barker.” As commands are given, each dog reacts. Use fun, basic commands like “Sit,” “Down” and “Stay.” The last dog remaining is named the champ.
Paint Like “Paw-casso”
Dogs channel their inner Rembrandt with this activity. Mix together cornstarch, flour, water and food coloring to a thickened consistency. Or alternatively, use nontoxic acrylic paint. Put paint on art paper, place plastic wrap on top of it and let Bowser walk all over it. Remove the plastic wrap, allow to air-dry, then proudly display.
When selecting a treat for my dog and one we recommend to our readers, a six-stage approval process takes place:
F: Formed. Must be made in the USA.
I: Ingredients. They must be easy to pronounce and something I would feed to my own dog and his friends.
D: Digestible. The treats needs to be easy on the stomach, so free of preservatives and artificial colorings.
O: Others. What are other folks in the pet world saying about the treats: We read the reviews others are writing, having tested the treat themselves.
S: Selection. What is the variety offered, are there wheat/corn/soy-free options? Are there an array of flavors?
E: Eat it Ourselves. Would I consider eating the treat and recommend other humans on team Fidose do the same?
The SMARTCOOKEE Company treats are one calorie, made in the USA, infused with healthy chia seeds, and they are so good, even I eat them: Seriously, according to founder, Kelly Ison, you can microwave the treat for a few seconds for a yummy snack. It curbs my appetite for a cookie snack! And get ready for this: look at the packaging they designed for the bash. Consider a bag of these treats for your dog’s next party.
You can also fill the bag with a toy or ball.
All Canine Guests Should Have
- Access to fresh, clean water
- Place(s) to relive themselves
- An area to get away from the other canine guests if desired and just chill out: From a stress relief perspective, ensure dogs have a spot to get away and know what your dog is stressed or is being disturbed by another doggie guests. Diffuse any stressful situations before they escalate. It is best for unleashed dogs who are mingling to be familiar with coming to you when called
Have you ever hosted or attended a dog birthday (or other) party?