Celebrating your best friend's birthday with a party is a wonderful way to catch up with other canine pals and also treat your mate to a day of fun and excitement. And if you have adopted your pet, there's no reason why they should miss out. If your pet's birthdate is unknown we encourage you to celebrate on the anniversary of his/her adoption day.
Now that you have decided to host a canine party, there's lots to think about so here are a few tips...
How many guests?
The number of guests depends on a couple of things. One, how many canine pals your dog will feel comfortable around. If your dog is shy or not used to spending long periods of time with other pets, you might want to keep the crowd more intimate. If your dog is the life of the party, go ahead invite his/her favourite doggy park play friends. The other important factor to consider is the size of the party location, too many dogs in a small or confined area is not such a good idea.
Who to invite?
Birthday parties are not the perfect time for meeting new friends. We suggest choosing a guest list of dogs your pet is well acquainted with and who you know they will get along with. If any canine guests are not desexed, we recommend mentioning this to your other human guests so you can prevent any mishaps on the day including any unnecessary aggression or territorial behaviour.
Just a word of caution, please be careful when inviting small children and children who are not comfortable around more than one dog. The last thing you want on the day is an unexpected accident or an unfortunate reason to call off your special event.
Where to hold a party?
Deciding where to hold a party depends on your dog and guests. Things to consider:-
- What is the likelihood of territorial aggression from your pet/s? If your pet is familiar and friendly to canine visitors then your home/backyard may be the perfect place for your party. If not, choose a neutral location.
- How many guests and how big are your guests? Does your chosen location provide enough room to play and run?
- Are your guests well behaved? If it is likely one or two guests may not come back when called consider a fenced in public or private area. Some councils offer enclosed dog parks and some boarding facilities may allow you to hire or use their space.
- Are fences and gates secure for all guests? If one of your guests is tempted to flee the party, make sure your fences and gates are secure.
- Will guests have access to open water such as a pool, river, ocean or lake? Check with your human guests to make sure all pets are familiar with water. You may want to reconsider your choice of location if guests are uncomfortable around open water or swimming, the chances are at least one pooch will end up taking a plunge.
As guests arrive provide instructions on where the rubbish bin and poo bags are kept. This provides a subtle yet immediate expectation each owner is responsible for their own dog's business.
There are many options for invitations. Personalise your invitations by creating your own hand made paw invites or why not try electronic invites. Some of our favourites are myinvites.com, smilebox.com, evite.com and pingg.com
Activities on the day
Make your pet's birthday party fun with some creative game ideas. Here's some ideas we love:-
- Pin the nose on the Labrador! Find a photo of your favourite breed and ask your local printer to print an A1 size poster for your game.
- Musical Sit - everyone sits when the music stops.
- Name the breed - display a range of dog breed photos and prepare answer sheets for your human guests to complete. The person who correctly identifies the most breeds wins.
- Competitions - award a prize for the best dressed, best trick, waggiest tail or best behaved.
- Setup your very own agility course - using cardboard boxes for tunnels, hula hoops for jumps and PVC water pipe for weave poles.
Did someone say food?
There's a pretty big temptation to make your birthday boy or girl the biggest and yummiest birthday cake. But as veterinarians we ask you to save your expert cake baking skills for food to be consumed by the human guests. As you already know, chocolate, sugar and fat will make your pet ill and the last thing you want to do is send your guests home with a belly ache too. Instead, provide a range of canine treats and if you really feel the need for baking, why not try our treat recipe.
All good parties end with a special something for your guests. Treat bags are always a winner, but why not consider dog balloons, hand-crafted dog bowls (you can create something special yourself by personalising cheap dog bowls) or even a handmade doggy bandana.
On a final note, here are a few extra tips:-
- Don't forget the camera!
- Make sure you have a number of water bowls available.
- Plan your first party to be for one hour. This will provide enough time for a run, to play a few games and some food at which point everyone will be completely exhausted.