celebrate a dog's birthday party

Ultimate Guide To Celebrate A Dog’s Birthday

I believe it’s fun to celebrate a dog’s birthday every year, and have attended many dog birthday parties. My spouse and I have hosted several dog-friendly gala events, so I put together the ultimate guide to celebrate a dog’s birthday.

Every dog deserves a special celebration, especially when that day is full of fun, cake, biscuits, games, presents, and surprises. 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.

There are three major ways to celebrate your dog’s birthday:

  1. A fun in-person party you plan and invite your dog’s friends and their humans
  2. An online dog party that you plan and invite humans and their dogs
  3. Spend a special day celebrating with just you and your dog (or anyone else you invite)

Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I am also an Etsy and Chewy affiliate.

How To Celebrate A Dog’s Birthday With An In-Person Party

Location of the Dog Party

Decide where you will host the canine birthday party. Put a lot of consideration into this because it is the most important aspect of planning the event.

Here’s a list of locations to consider:

  • Inside your home (be sure you have the space)
  • A dog-friendly rental space such as a Zoom Room
  • Your backyard (with a rain date)
  • A dog beach (with a rain date)
  • A doggy daycare that rents space
  • A pet supply store that rents space
  • A canine training center that rents space
  • Dog Mountain in St. Johnsbury, Vermont (call to ask permission)
  • An agility course that rents space
  • Ask a local dog bakery if they host dog parties
  • Some local businesses and halls rent space out
  • Pet-friendly winery or brewery (call ahead to ask permission)
  • A dog-loving friend or neighbor’s backyard or indoor space

PRO TIP: Google ‘dog friendly spaces for rent in STATE’ and type in your state.

Wherever you have the party, keep in mind that the area should be gated (preferably double 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.

If you host a dog birthday party outdoors, you may want to consider canopies or party rental tents/covers in the event of rain. I planned a dog party at a local pet-friendly amusement park and had to cancel it last minute due to hurricane-like weather and rain.

Dog Birthday Party Date and Length of Time

Two to three hours is the ideal time frame for an in-person dog birthday party. Most dogs and people are tired or ready to leave by then. If dogs are leashed throughout the party, they start to get restless after a while.

When will most of your guests be available? You can send out an email poll and give guests a date from which to choose. Most people work Monday through Friday, so weekends are best.

Try not to schedule the birthday celebration near any major holidays or conflicting local events, i.e., football games, weddings, bazaars or carnivals, etc.

Dog Party Theme

A theme is probably one of the most fun elements of a birthday party. 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 (kings, queens, princes, and princesses)
  • Disney theme
  • Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
  • Monster Trucks and Cars
  • Circus/Big Top theme
  • Hollywood
  • Winter Celebration
  • Decade fun (the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s. etc.)
  • Breed-specific party (I’ve hosted many Cocker Spaniel parties with a Wigglebutt theme)

PRO TIP: Party stores tend to have some of the coolest themed items during the holidays. Halloween is one of those times.

Dog birthday party
Think ahead and know where to plan your dog’s birthday party.

Plan The Party Timeline

This is one of the best things you can do for yourself right off the bat. Your party timeline should include a start and finish time and an agenda of the day’s activities, such as this:

  1. From 1 to 1:30: Guests arrive, mingle, and take seats
  2. From 1:30 to 2:00: Tell guests where everything is located, any special instructions and rules
  3. From 2:00 to 2:30: Food/drinks/eat
  4. From 2:30 to 3:00: Games
  5. From 3:00 to 3:30: Presents and thank yous
  6. From 3:30 to 4:00: Guests mingle, games, etc

Your Budget for the Party

It can be really easy to get caught up in the fun and planning of a dog’s birthday party. I can tell you from experience that those fun moments result in hefty costs if you aren’t careful.

Set a budget. The budget should include the cost of:

  • Any facility rental fees
  • Food for dogs and humans
  • Bowls for dogs
  • Water for dogs
  • Drinks for humans
  • Snacks for dogs and humans
  • Plates, utensils, cups, etc
  • Decor (tablecloths, centerpieces, decorations)
  • Games
  • Prizes
  • Doggy bags or take-home goodies
  • Birthday cake and treats
  • Presents
  • Dog party hats
  • Invitations and stamps (if you are sending paper invites)
  • Poop bags, waste cans, clean-up supplies, and sprays (accidents will happen)

PRO TIP: We don’t recommend noisemakers, horns, or any other type of party favor that makes noises. Be sensitive to the hearing of canine guests and any dogs who are fearful of loud sounds.

Guest List and Birthday Invitations

Decide who you plan to invite and if their dog gets along with other dogs. I’ve been to dog parties where the human attends but doesn’t bring her dog. Some dogs don’t do well in crowds or around other dogs. Specify all dogs must be leashed and be dog and people-friendly to avoid accidents, biting, or scuffling.

If you plan to send out paper invitations, Amazon has a cute selection. Here are a few of our favorite dog birthday party invitations.

Save money and create your own party invitations. Canva is a free online graphic design tool designed for people with zero graphic design experience.

Here’s how to design epic dog party invitations on Canva.

Make sure you have the space and budget for your human and canine guests. You don’t want it to be crowded. Sometimes, less is more. I’ve been to parties with 300 human and canine guests and parties with 10 people and 10 dogs. Sometimes less is more.

Determine if kids or children under a certain age are invited. Some kids may lunge or annoy dogs, so be honest about your kids’ policy when sending out invitations.

Give people the date to RSVP and share the theme.

PRO TIP: Google ‘online party invitations free’ or ‘online party invitations with RSVP’ to find some free and premium evite services.

Consider Creating a Private Facebook Event Page

I’ve done this for all the dog parties I’ve hosted. It makes everything run so much smoother, and you can update guests in one central location.

It’s really easy to create a Facebook event page where all of your guests can communicate and ask questions. You can even use the event page to send out invitations and bypass the whole paper or e-vite processes.

Here’s how to create an in-person Facebook event to celebrate a dog’s birthday.

celebrate a dog's birthday with cake
Made by Sweet Paws Bakery

Dog and Human Birthday Cakes

Every birthday needs a cake or cupcakes. Your RSVP list is important because this is where you will determine how many cakes you need for canine guests.

PRO TIP: Consider doggy cupcakes in addition to one main doggy cake for the canine guest of honor.

Humans should have cake, too. If you ask guests to bring a food item, someone can bring a human cake or human cupcakes If you are splurging for the whole party, order ahead for your human guests. If you need extras, most grocery stores have in-store bakeries for day-of purchases.

Our favorite pet-friendly dog cakes and specialty treats are from Sweet Paws Bakery in Florida. Colleen ships nationwide, too!

If you prefer to make your own dog-safe birthday cake, here are our favorite mixes:

The Bear and the Rat Cupcake Mix for Dogs

Puppy Cake Mix for Dogs

Dog Ice Cream

You can serve each dog in attendance a dog-friendly ice cream cup. Some dog-safe ice cream brands include:

Pooch Creamery

Purina Frosty Paws

Ben & Jerry’s Doggie Ice Cream

Dogsters Ice Cream

Decorations and Accessories

There are so many ways to decorate for your dog’s special day, and here are a few dog party decoration kits.

DIY Photo Booth

Create your own photo booth space with custom props to level up your birthday fun. You don’t need anything fancy – some simple white muslin can be used to drape the booth and sidewalls.

You can hang a backdrop up and let guests and their doggos have a blast snapping selfies and sharing photos and videos on social media.

Buy dog photo booth props and photo booth kits on Amazon. Backdrops are easy to find online as well.

PRO TIP: Create a birthday party hashtag and put it in your invites and any online correspondence. It’s the latest fun trend. Then everyone can see the content posted without having to search high and low.

How to celebrate a dog's birthday with a photo frame
Dexter and Coco pose in the photo frame

Order a Photo Prop Frame

This is a unique way to create memories to last a lifetime. Here’s one of our favorite Etsy finds: A Selfie frame customized to your dog’s special day.

Birthday Hats

Most dogs are amenable to wearing a birthday hat, even if for a photo or two. Get birthday hats for the dogs and humans in attendance.

Banners and Themed Decorations

This includes everything from Happy Birthday signs to a Balloon Banner such as Happy Barkday. Decorations include doggy plates, doggy napkins, doggy tablecloths, and cups, or whatever theme you choose.

PRO TIP: Traditional balloons are fun, but they can be probelematic at dog parties. I’ve been to canine birthday parties where balloons accidentally pop and some dogs freak out or have to leave because they are so scared. Be considerate of your guests.

Take Home Goodie Bags

Each canine guest should be able to take home a goodie bag of snacks and surprises. You can have a “dog snack table” where human guests can fill their own bags. Just have enough snacks and goodies available.

Some ideas for items to put in a dog goodies bag include:

  • Poop bags
  • Doggie bandanas (you can get them cheap at dollar stores)
  • Squeaky ball
  • Treats
  • Stuffed toy
  • Emergency pet stickers

Dog Birthday Chalkboard

Perfect for commemorating a dog’s birthday and for photo ops. A dog birthday chalkboard can be used year after year. You fill in certain fun facts and important milestones about your dog using chalk markers. Simply fill it in and make memories to celebrate a dog’s birthday party.

Birthday Outfit for Your Dog

Whether your dog loves to wear clothes or loathes them, you can choose a dog bandanna, party-themed leash and collar, or even a bow tie or collar accent. Here’s how to choose the right size of clothing for your dog.

Guest Book to Sign

Since this is an in-person party, have guests write a special message to your dog in a memory book. You can add images and special moments to it later on in scrapbook style.

fresh dog food for dog club
Beautiful Dr. Harvey’s Smorgasbark at our event

Make A Dog Smorgasborg Snack Station

Our friends at Dr. Harvey’s set up the most beautiful Smorgasbark for one of our doggy fundraisers. You can set up plastic bowls with snacks for all the dogs in attendance.

PRO TIP: Empty the contents of the dog treats into a party bowls, but keep a full-sized bag or the contents of the bag nearby so pet parents can read the ingredients. Keep the bowls out of dogs’ reach and wagging tails. I’ve seen snack tables get knocked over, too.

I generally don’t recommend dog food be served. Tell your guests in advance what will be served at the party and if dogs should be fed their normal meal first.

Watering Station and Bowls For Dogs

Do have watering stations/chilled bottled water and bowls (even if disposable) for all dogs in attendance. You can keep the water chilled in a cooler with ice or have your own watering stations.

Food and Drinks For Human Guests

Food and drinks for all human guests are a must. This can be something easy like hors d’oeuvres or finger foods or something catered. It’s easy to have catering these days.

Similar to the canine setup, guests can serve themselves from a cooler or two of filled water bowls, canned soft drinks, and juices. I don’t advise serving alcohol at a dog party.

Clean Up Station

There should always be poop bags, garbage cans, clean-up supplies, and pet-friendly urine and stain remover handy. It’s always a nice touch to have some Tide pens handy for human guests.

Music and Microphones

Some background music or fun songs to accompany your theme is always welcome at a dog’s birthday party. Don’t blast it too loud so as not to annoy neighbors or canine guests in attendance.

I recommend having a working microphone hooked up to a small speaker if your party is big enough. You want all guests to hear announcements.

Gifts or Donations or Both

Decide in advance if you want guests to bring a present for your dog. Some pet parents create wish lists for their dogs on Amazon and share the list in the invite or Facebook group.

You can also ask guests to donate to a favorite dog rescue. They would bring the donation to the party and can write a check or donate cash. At the end of the event, you count it all up and announce the grand total.

Be sure guests know in advance so they can come prepared.

Keeping Dog Guests Occupied

Much like a child’s birthday party, to celebrate a dog’s birthday without stress, 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. 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.

Rules To Avoid Dog Fights

Make it clear to guests in advance and at the party:

  1. No retractable leashes
  2. Must clean up after your dog and dispose of it properly
  3. Always ask before giving another dog a treat
  4. Keep dogs home if they aren’t dog friendly or people friendly
  5. Any other rules you want to share
dog plays with dog tornado

Play Dog Games

Determine what games you will play. Here are a few dog games and activities to get the creative juices flowing:

Dog Limbo
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.

Magical Mutt
Have each dog line up for some sleight 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.

Musical Mats
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.

Scooby Says
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.

Dog birthday party ideas
Coco Chanel is the star of the party

How To Celebrate A Dog’s Birthday With An Online Party

Much like the above details, having an online birthday party for your dog requires planning. However, it isn’t as extensive, expensive, or involved.

Choose an Online Hosting Service

Most people are familiar with Zoom, so consider a one-month subscription to Zoom so you can have at least an hour or more for your party with room for enough online guests.

Decide The Online Date and Time

You can send out a poll and see if folks may be interested in a weekday evening or weekend. Not everyone will make it, and there will always be some folks who experience Internet outages or technical problems.

Having attended several online parties, it’s best to keep them to between 60 ad 90 minutes maximum, with 60 minutes as my personal preference. Most people will be ready to call it a night after about an hour online.

Plan The Party Timeline

Even though this is an online event, you should still have an idea of what you are doing and how long each activity takes. Here’s a sample timeline:

  1. From 1 to 1:15: Guests log in, say hello, get situated
  2. From 1:15 to 1:30: Tell guests what to expect and say hi to everyone.
  3. From 1:30 to 2:00: Sing to the guest of honor and, show everyone the cake, and play a game.
  4. From 2:00 to 2:15: Host a raffle for prizes
  5. From 2:15 to 2:30: Donate to a charity on behalf of your dog or make a special announcement

Invite Guests

Choose your guests, tell them their dog is welcome to be on camera, and then send your online invites out. ZOOM has a feature where you can invite people in one swoop.

Choose A Backdrop

Unlike IRL (in real life) parties, the only thing your guests will see is what’s behind you. Some services offer a background change. You can also drape a backdrop or blur what’s behind you. I purchased a desktop backdrop that easily folds for storage.

Practice Ahead of Time

If you choose Zoom for your own dog’s birthday party, practice in advance. Log onto your account and have a peek around.

Be sure everyone invited is aware of the time zone.

Play Online Games

Here are a few online dog party games you can play in a Zoom group:

Two Truths and A Lie: A classic icebreaker at any online party. You come up with two truths and one lie and guests have to vote which is the lie. Pick a winner from all those who guessed correctly.

Trivia: The first person to write the correct answer in the group chat wins a prize. Make the trivia about your dog!

Online Bingo: If you have enough time, here’s how to play Online Bingo for Zoom

Play Best Talent Wins: Anyone who has a talent can showcase it in 30 seconds or less. You can do this for humans or dogs. Choose a winner.

Play a Slideshow

Have a pre-recorded slideshow of your dog’s milestones or anything dog-related to show guests for three to five minutes. Be sure to put everyone on mute.

Take a Group Snapshot

Ask everyone to smile and take a screenshot you can send guests as a thank you afterward. It makes for a fun frameable photo, too!

How To Celebrate A Dog’s Birthday Without Guests

Not up for a big party or want to celebrate a dog’s birthday on your own? Maybe your friends or family don’t live nearby. Make this a memorable day with these ideas designed for you and your dog:

  1. Plan a day out for the two of you to picnic.
  2. Take a drive to your dog’s favorite park.
  3. Visit a pet supply store together and let your dog pick some goodies
  4. Visit a pet-friendly winery or brewery
  5. Have lunch at a pet-friendly cafe or restaurant
  6. Get a pup cup at Starbucks
  7. Play with your dog off and on throughout the day. Do their favorite things.
  8. Visit a friend or family member you haven’t seen in a while
  9. Pick from our list of 101 fun things to do with your dog indoors
  10. If it’s warmer out, pick from our list of summer fun ideas with dogs

Have you ever hosted or attended a dog birthday (or other) party?

how to celebrate a dog's birthday party


  1. Looks like a great party. We have had friends over for birthday parties before and hold them in our yard with our homemade treats or cake. I am not so keen on it anymore, since the last time was my 7th birthday where a bunch of GBGV’s came to visit but Bailie stayed and never left. I’ve come to the conclusion after two years, she is here to stay, but I will have to always watch who we invite to parties from now on!

  2. That cake looks awesome! And I love all of the game ideas. 🙂

    Ginger (my mom’s dog) turned 10 this year and so she got extra treats and presents and we celebrated a bit more than usual!


    1. The cake was oh so good and even this dog mom had some – yummy frosting, too.

      Happy Belated Birthday to Ginger!!!

  3. Yes, Dogs are one of the cutest members of our family. The outdoor location is the best option with an organized theme. Goody Bag, Magical Mutt, Dog Limbo all are great ideas to have an amazing dog birthday party. Thanks for sharing.

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