Your dog means the world to you, and few things are more fun than celebrating that, especially once spring is near. After all, spring weather calls for long walks, fun times playing fetch and even a dog-centric party or two. So, whether it's your four-legged friend's birthday or you just want to spoil your dog rotten because it's so much fun to do, a party is the best way to ensure both of you have a great time. Read on to discover three fun and unique dog party ideas for the spring weather.
Fun on the Farm
Celebrating your pup at your local farm or animal sanctuary is a great way to give back to the community. You can volunteer your time and expose your dog to so many new and exciting sights and smells! This party idea is also a terrific way of spending your day completely surrounded by animals of all shapes and sizes, so it's perfect for the passionate animal lover. It's also a great way to spend the day if there will be human children attending your dog's celebration. If your dog is the outgoing type and you feel like they would love to familiarize themselves with new and friendly animals, look for a farm or sanctuary in your area by following these steps.
Locate an Animal Sanctuary
First, enter your zip code into an animal sanctuary directory. Select one that looks close enough to where you're located, and send the owner an email. Ask if they permit pets, and inquire about the best dates to come and visit. Also, ask about bringing human guests too. Ask around your friend group and determine how many people you plan to bring along. Once you hear back from the owner and have the clearance to bring your dog, plan your party accordingly. Make sure to bring a leash, doggy bags, a portable water bowl, lunch for yourself and plenty of treats for any other dogs that are attending. Also, bring party hats for people and pups if you're feeling especially festive.
Find Out the Rules
Once you're at the farm, ask if you can let your dog off of his leash. Some farms may have strict rules regarding leashed pets. If the owner says yes, whip out that ball or frisbee or just watch your pet explore this new territory on their own if they have free-reign within a safely fenced-in area. There may even be a few farm dogs that your pal can befriend. You know your dog's personality the best, so decide on the type of activity that is safest for them.
If your dog is not permitted off-leash at the farm, keep them by your side and introduce them to all the pigs, chickens and cows yourself. These farm animals are usually quite gentle and sweet! However, despite how amazing a fun day at the farm might sound, not everyone lives a short distance away from a farm or animal sanctuary. Or, in other instances, these sanctuaries may not permit outside pets on their property. If this is the case, no worries — you can always bring the farm to you and plan a farm-themed party from the comfort of your backyard for a similar experience. Invite all of your pup's best friends, make pitchers of ice-cold lemonade, pack picnic foods and enjoy yourselves. To push the farm theme a little bit further, hire a petting zoo for a couple of hours so that your dog and party guests can make some new friends. Mobile petting zoos can bring a variety of animals, such as billygoats, chickens and sheep.
Pick a Package
Petting zoo rental companies also offer a variety of different services, so look for a package that fits your specific needs and budget. Are you looking to spend an hour with some reptiles? How about a three-hour session with some baby goats? However, before confirming with the zoo, consider your dog's feelings first. If they are usually uncomfortable or anxious around other dogs and animals, stick to the simple farm theme and avoid bringing new animals to their home. They could end up feeling threatened and anxious, which no pet owner ever wants.
On the flip side, if your dog is a natural-born herder, like if they fall into the Australian Shepherd or Border Collie family, you may have an entirely different situation on your hands. Your dog can't help their instincts when it comes to herding, so if you're worried about your dog corralling your furry visitors, perhaps steer clear of the petting zoo. Instead, buy some hay for them to roll around in and end the evening with some kibble and cake.
If your dog is a natural-born swimmer and can't get enough of the water, consider a boating party. Boating parties can be fun for both the animals and your human guests since you'll all get a beautiful view of the water and have the chance to take in some sun. Your dog will also get the chance to exercise and swim to their heart's content!
Get Life Vests
Just make sure to take the proper precautions when out on the lake or ocean. Always wear a life vest, and make sure the pups onboard are also wearing life vests as well. If you're wondering where to find them, know that your local pet store most likely carries them. Pay attention to the fit, color and material of the jacket before making your selection. You want something brightly colored, snug yet comfortable and waterproof. Additionally, search for a jacket with lifting handles. They make it easier to grab hold of your dog and lift or pull them from the water in case of an emergency.
Protect Your Pooch From the Sun
Sun protection is also important for people and pups if you're spending a day out on the water. The sun's UV rays are strong and can burn both you and your dog. So, when packing your SPF in your bag, make sure to bring enough for both of you. A dab of child-safe sunscreen ranging from 30 to 50 SPF is plenty of protection. Apply it onto the dog's nose and stomach. Also, make sure to reapply the lotion if your party exceeds a few hours. Furthermore, keep them out of direct sunlight when the sun is at its highest point in the sky, especially if your dog has a thin coat of fur. For example, Dalmations, whippets, greyhounds, boxers and Chinese crested dogs are all more susceptible to sunburn, so keep them in the shade as much as possible.
Dogs can also burn their paws on a scorching deck. To ensure that they can walk across the deck safely, place a hand on the floor. If your bare skin can't last longer than five seconds, the floor is probably too hot for your dog's sensitive paws. While this trick is usually reserved for walking your dog on a hot day, it certainly applies well here, too.
Enforce Boat Safety
If boating sounds like the perfect party theme for your canine's birthday, determine what is a safe boat for dogs. If you're renting, select a boat with a lot of shade. Consider renting a pontoon-style boat with a canopy to provide shelter from the sun. Then, create a safe space designated for the dogs while the boat is in motion. If you own your vessel and it lacks the proper amount of shade, bring your own awning and umbrellas. A cooler filled with cold water and pup-sicles never hurt anyone either. To keep things even safer, keep a non-slip mat and a fluffy towel to dry dogs off after they have played in the water.
Before leaving for your party, train your dog to walk up and down the stairs of the boat. If you worry about them slipping or falling, carry them or provide a doggy-safe ladder so they can easily hop aboard. Once you're on the boat, make sure you have a variety of things for your dog to do. Some great waterproof toys include frisbees, footballs and soft and chewy rings. If your dog is a popular pup on the block, invite their friends and encourage their owners to come prepared with sun protection, water-proof toys, towels and treats, too.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
While all of this sounds like an incredible party, always be prepared in case of an emergency. Bring a doggy first-aid kit filled with everything they may need while on the boat. You can purchase a pre-assembled kit for that purpose. If your pet has more specific needs, you can create one of your own as well. If you choose to create your own, keep it stocked with a self-cling bandage roll; this tape will stick to itself but won't stick to fur. It's great for cuts and burns. Also, have a copy of your pet's important documents, such as proof of rabies shots and other vaccines, in case you need to run to the vet at the last second. Your kit should also contain an ice pack, hydrogen peroxide, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, an emergency foil blanket, saline solution and a copy of your vet's phone number.
Before you embark on your seaside adventure, make sure your dog is chipped. Ensure their information is up to date and they are wearing a collar with your number and address clearly printed on it at all times. Next, learn what you should do in case your dog falls overboard. If this does happen while you're out boating, the first thing to do is to cut the boat's engine. Next, throw something for your dog to grab hold of. As a last resort, swim to them with a raft or lifeboat and swim back toward safety. While your dog should always wear a life vest, it's also important to come up with a game plan for these situations
Learn CPR for Dogs
Lastly, learn a few CPR methods for dogs before you leave for your trip. In case you are unfamiliar, here are a few tips you should know before letting your dog get near any large body of water. First, rescue the dog and make sure you're in a safe area before giving CPR. For dogs under 45 pounds, hold the dog by its legs upside down for 30 seconds to drain its lungs. For dogs over this weight limit, put them in a position where their head is lower than their body. Then, check to see if they are still breathing. If you can't tell, locate their heartbeat by placing your hand against his left side, behind the front leg. Additionally, you can check for a pulse by putting your hand on their hindleg. The protocol for chest compressions can vary depending on the size of your dog, so make sure to read and memorize the best course of action for a pup struggling to breathe. Write it down and keep it in their first aid kit at all times.
These tips are all crucial for your dog's safety and can save your dog's life. While boating can be a fun experience, make sure you're prepared in case of any emergency. This will give you the peace of mind you need to enjoy yourself and throw the best party possible for your loving pup.
If you're a fan of carnival games, cotton candy and charity, this next theme is perfect for you and your dog. Start by selecting an animal charity you’re passionate about. Think about whether you would like to help your local shelter or donate to a national cause. If you adopted your dog from a shelter, raising funds to give back to that shelter is a perfect way to celebrate your pet while helping other animals in need. Once you've selected a charity, start planning away. While you can hold your dog's event in your backyard, also consider throwing your party at a local dog park, a dog-friendly restaurant or even the beach.
Next, round up your guests and think of some creative events and ways you can raise money for your favorite cause. Blast your event on social media, and invite family members, neighbors, and every dog person you know. Then, draw up some creative and carnival-themed ways of raising money. For example, hold a raffle and give all of the proceeds to the charity of your choice. Donate it in your dog's name for an extra special touch. You can also hold a doggy bakesale and create scrumptious treats to sell for a dollar apiece.
Good Carnival Games
When planning, consider a few carnival favorite games everyone can play. Remember, you're also celebrating your special pooch and best friend, so make this a fun event for them too. Set up a ring toss for your human guests and an agility course for the dogs. Hire a performer, like a clown, to stick to that fun carnival theme.
However, it's not a party without food—serve up some carnival favorites but make them dog-friendly. Instead of caramel and candied apples, set out normal apple slices with a drizzle of peanut butter. Bake some soft and lightly salted pretzels that will accentuate your carnival theme nicely. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon for a sweeter version. Plus, you can fill little red and white tins with freshly popped popcorn for both the dogs and their owners to enjoy. Corn on the cob is also a crowd favorite and will be a hit with your human friends. Just remind them that the cobs are unsafe for dogs. It's a choking hazard, but the kernels alone are fair game and completely safe for a dog to consume.
Include a Movie
Before the night is over, project a movie onto a piece of canvas in your backyard. You could even invite other dogs to join their owners on comfy blankets while they watch the movie. If you don’t have canvas, sheets also work as a movie screen. Make sure you have something sturdy to tie the fabric to so it doesn’t blow away if there’s wind. Watching a movie together with your dog is a great way to end a day of partying and raising money for dogs and animals in need. You will put the fun in fundraising, and, at the end of the day, you'll feel happy that you and your dog accomplished something charitable together.
Your dog is part of the family, so if you want to spoil your pup this spring and have a great time doing it, consider using one of these unique themes to throw them a much deserved birthday bash. No matter which theme you choose, both of you are bound to have a memorable time. Just remember to follow the safety precautions listed, whether you're on a boat or in your backyard. And, of course, always provide an endless supply of treats. Your pup will love you all the more for it.
Rocky Kanaka is an entrepreneur, pet rescue advocate and dog dad to a rescue boxer named Flip, a blind Cane Corso called Kobe, and a terrier mix named Zoey. He's also a pet chef and owner of The Dog Bakery, which specializes in dog birthday cakes
and fresh baked dog treats. His three dogs can't get enough of the dog cakes and treats!
Lorna Paxton Ladd is a passionate dog lover and enthusiast of The Dog Bakery. She loves spoiling her 3 rescue dogs with dog cakes
and jerky. A 15 year veteran in the pet industry, her aim is to educate pet parents on the best recipes, products, tips and tricks to optimize the human/canine bond. Her favorite product at The Dog Bakery are the customizable dog birthday cakes.