Every dog has his day – and our canine* companions’ birthdays are the most special of all. So why not go all out? Nothing says “Happy Woofday!” like a party (or should I say paw-ty?), so read on to find out how to throw the best (and safest) dog birthday party around!
picking a day to celebrate
Those of us with a rescue dog might not know their actual birthday, but that shouldn’t stop us from including our party pups in the celebration. If you don’t know the date your pup popped into this world, just use their adoption date or “gotcha day.” This was the start of your dog’s life with you, and that’s cause for celebration, too!
As you’re planning a birthday party, think about your target guests — dogs! Unless you want a pack of pups clambering through your house, focus your search on outdoor venues. If your backyard is fenced in and large enough, it’s a perfect place for a party! Or, check with your local dog parks to see if you can set up there.
When it comes to the four-legged guest list, try to invite dogs that your dog has played with and has a good relationship with. If the party is going to be held on your dog’s “turf,” give them the opportunity to greet guests in a more neutral territory (say, the street in front of your house) before the party starts to avoid any territorial backyard beefs.
It’s not a party without snacks, but in the case of a dog party, you might consider leaving doggy snacks off the menu. Some dogs may have food allergies or be on a diet, and introducing limited snacks to a bunch of dogs can invite a fight over resources. The nicest of dogs (and people!) can turn fierce when snacks are on the line. If you have a tasty treat for the birthday dog, save it for after the guests go home.
Speaking of snacks, do provide some for your two-legged guests. After all, we’re (usually) better at controlling ourselves around food. Err on the side of caution with your food choices, though — don’t serve anything that’s potentially toxic to dogs, just in case a canine guest gets into the snacks. Grapes, raisins, chocolate and xylitol-containing sweets shouldn’t have a place at the table when dogs are invited.
Provide plenty of places for dogs to get a drink of water, and if it’s a particularly sunny day, set up some shade zones. Dogs can get a bit worked up when left to wrestle and play all afternoon — they’ll need a place to rest, relax and cool off at some point. Having a couple of baby pools around the backyard is a good idea for both playtime and downtime.
Sometimes the best parties are those without a schedule, giving dogs time for free play. But including a game or two can make for a fun time, too! Frisbee, dog/human agility courses and best-dressed contests are a few ideas. For keepsakes that will last forever, set up a fun backdrop and lay out some dog and human props for a photo booth-style picture area.
Finally, no party is complete without some doggy bags. Send your guests home with a bandana or tennis ball to commemorate the happy occasion, or whip up a batch of homemade pupcakes for the partygoers to snack on and keep the party going at home.
* Feline companions have not been forgotten — they’re special, too. But if I tried to throw a birthday party for my cat, she’d look at me like I was crazy and promptly go right back to sleep.