I have a confession to make – I am THAT Dog Mom. The one who won’t come to your event, because it is my dog’s (or cat’s) birthday party. I am the one who plans months ahead of time, gets overexcited, designs invitations, and is offended if you decline because it’s ‘just a dog’. Luckily, amongst my friends and family, my dog’s birthday party has become quite the anticipated social event of the year. Throwing a fabulous party for your pooch is very similar to throwing a party for humans – there is food, cake, games, maybe a fight or two and, of course, loads of fun and laughter.
Deciding on a guest list is one of the most important decisions to make when planning your party. If your dog is a social butterfly and gets along with other dogs, this is a great opportunity to have a pawesome play date. It is, however, best if all dogs are already acquainted, like friends from dog training, day-care or a dog walking group. If your pooch is more of a lone ranger, or perhaps a bit anxious or nervous, then consider having them as the Guest of Honor and limit the number of human guests invited, to make them a bit more comfortable. After all, the party is for them, and you want them to enjoy themselves. Lastly, if you want your dog to be the center of attention i.e., the only 4-legged guest in attendance, be sure to include this in the invitation. People might automatically assume that all canines are invited, and you could end up with a disaster on your hands.
Once the guest list has been decided, you can pick the perfect location to host your party. If other dogs will be in attendance, an outdoor venue would be ideal. The dogs can run wild without destroying your house or having any accidents on your carpets. If you don’t have a big enough garden, other options are: a local dog park, a dog-friendly venue that you can rent out (these are becoming very popular), or even your dog’s day-care or training grounds. Wherever you choose, just be sure to check that the venue is fully secured and escape-proof for all-size dogs. Also, ensure that there is adequate shade available to escape the heat or just have a laydown.
While there does not need to be a theme, it is always fun and helps to focus your ideas. Unfortunately, our pups cannot voice their preferences, so base your ideas around their favourite toy, place to go, or food. I have had a “monsters and motorbike” theme based on the fact that my one dog loved this blue toy monster and the other couldn’t stop chasing motorbikes (must be love, right?). I have also done an ice cream bar theme complete with both human and doggy-friendly ice cream and toppings. The sky really is the limit, so let your imagination go wild.
Both humans and dogs will need to be catered for. I recommend keeping all snacks dog-friendly, especially if 2 legged kids will also be there. This way you don’t have to worry about your dog accidentally ingesting something they shouldn’t. Kids tend to share, whether it’s intentional or not. Different fruits and vegetables are good options, like apples, carrots, bananas, berries etc. Other fun ideas for your pup are pupsicles, treats and chews, or homemade doggy biscuits. Last, but not least, is the cake. If you are handy in the kitchen, you can bake a delicious pupcake fit for both humans and dogs. You can also use dog cake mix (Wolf and Women have a great one) or order a cake from a canine baker in your area. Please remember to always research any ingredients or food before feeding them to your dog. Some foods are highly toxic and can result in death. Foods to avoid are chocolate, avocados, grapes, raisins and xylitol (an artificial sweetener).
Don’t overthink this one. Many dogs are quite happy to go around getting love and attention from all the humans and just laze around. There is nothing wrong with that. If there are multiple dogs, they will mainly keep themselves entertained play wrestling and chasing each other. If you do feel you want to organize some activities, provide some toys for the dogs to play with, like ropes for tug of war, balls for fetch, or paddling pools to splash around in. Do, however, keep resource guarding in mind. If one pup is being a bit too possessive over a certain toy, rather remove it and prevent any doggy showdowns.
This is a personal choice and is up to you to decide whether you would like guests to bring gifts or not (though I am sure your dog won’t say no to some tasty treats!). If you do decide on gifts, let your guests know what your dog’s tastes are in terms of the types of treats they like, if they have any allergies, and the types of toys they prefer. If your dog is as spoilt as my own and wants for nothing, a nice idea is to ask for donations for your local shelter in lieu of gifts and pay it forward.
Who doesn’t love a goodie bag, or in this case, a doggy bag? If other dogs will be invited to your pup’s party, making up pawty packs will be a real crowd-pleaser and a great way to end off the day. You can fill your bags with your dog’s favorite items like sticks, balls, soft toys, or tasty treats; practical items such as poop bags, paw/snout butter or portable water dishes, or even customized bandanas with the dog’s name on them.