Have you ever thrown a party for your dog? Believe it or not, 11% of Americans HAVE and almost 30% give a present to their dog on their special day.
Throwing a party for your pup doesn’t have to be stressful, it can be as big or small as you like, all out or simple DIY. After all, it’s unlikely you’ll disappoint your dog. Dogs love and appreciate everything we do for them. Which is exactly why they deserve some extra special TLC on their big day (or any day for that matter)
Whether you’re celebrating the actual day of your dog's birth, their gotcha day, or any other special day you’d like to recognize your dog it’s nice to have a yearly (or monthly) reminder of the special place they hold in your heart and family.
If you’ve been thinking about throwing a party for your dog but weren’t sure where to start, or would just like to gather some inspiration for an upcoming party, we’ve dug up some ideas to create the ultimate party. Take it step by step for a no-stress approach, or cherry-pick what works for you.
Parties aren’t just for birthdays! There are lots of reasons to celebrate your dog, and certainly you don’t have to wait until your dog’s birthday to bring out your party shoes. Here are some ideas to get you in the party mood any time of year.
Like planning any event, the first step is deciding how much you want to spend. A goal amount that’s usually a range with a “no higher than” end number. This will help inform all other decisions! And don’t worry if that number is, like, $50. You’d be surprised what you can do with that.
For dog lovers, getting an invite to a dog party is like Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. Because even if social interaction isn’t your jam, booze and snacks don’t entice you and buying presents gives you anxiety, there is likely nothing you wouldn’t do to spend an afternoon surrounded by dogs while celebrating one special pooch.
But before you break out your contact list, you’ll first need to consider if your pup is the kind of dog who could handle a party in his/her honor. Some dogs don’t do well in crowds, or take longer to warm up to strangers. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t throw them a day of celebration, but it may mean fitting the event to their needs!
Maybe they’d do best just sharing some cake and presents with you, their favorite human, at home or maybe you should only invite a couple of select humans over to their safe space whom they’re really comfortable with. You know your pup best, and only you can make the call on what kind of party they’ll do best with. Remember, the party’s kind of for you but it’s still mostly for them and each dog’s needs are unique!
So here are the options:
Dog + immediate family
Dog + immediate family + friends
Dog + immediate family + friends + canine friends
If you’d like to get some other pups involved just make sure they’re dogs your dog has met and played well with in the past. Then, with that number in mind, you can begin to contemplate where you’d like to throw the party
Now that you’ve decided how many people and dogs you’d like in attendance you can start thinking about where to host the party.
You might assume that a dog party has to happen outdoors, and while that would definitely be easiest for a few reasons (no bathroom breaks, less ability to destroy things or disrupt the peace with barking), there are definitely indoor places that rent out event spaces.
When deciding where to hold it, consider things like:
✔️ The size of the party (how many humans and how many doggos)
✔️ Is the party an excuse for humans to get together, or is it truly for the dogs?
✔️ The weather that time of year ☀️ or ❄️
✔️ How much money 💲you’d be willing to spend on renting a space (some facilities do offer their space for free)
Tip: Limit the party to two hours, that’s just about the right amount of fun, before dogs get cranky and you become tired.
1. Inside Your Home This works for 1-4 dogs, depending on their size + their associated humans. If the party is more about the humans, then this is a great way to go.
2. Your Backyardor a nice friend or relatives
3. A Dog Park(check with the park's management to see if you can rent it out. If not you could still have it there but it would be unstructured and more casual (ie, you couldn't set up a photo booth or set up a birthday cake)
4. Dog Friendly Human Park(remember to contact the city council to reserve the space)
5. Agility Course We love this concept, it’s like a kids party at a roller rink or gymnastics studio. Built in entertainment, managed by someone else!
6. Dog Water Park If you’re lucky enough to live near a dog water park, and it’s summer, that’s a perfect venue. You wouldn’t have to worry about a lot of fru fru decorations or planning… the dogs would entertain themselves.
7. Dog Beach
If you live on the coast or a large river and there’s a dog friendly beach, this would be another location that offers built in entertainment. The humans could enjoy a beach day and the dogs could get into all kinds of shenanigans
8. Dog Party Centers
Often doggie day care centers & pet stores will rent a space or offer them gratis as a way of showcasing their facility and merchandise.
As adults, our birthday shin-digs rarely have themes. But one of the fun things about children's birthday parties are the themes we often create around them, creating a whole world for them to exist in on their big day (think Unicorn Rainbow Parties, or Disney characters).
This can also be a fun idea for your pup, though we realize it’s kind of tough to ask them for suggestions or a preference. If there’s an obvious grab there then consider theming it up! If your dog
is named after someone or something
has a particular toy they really love that’s a character
birthday falls near a holiday
is a particular breed, and you want to do a breed specific party.
That's the direction that Vivian Son went with her Corgi Nacho for his birthday party. She was co hosting with 2 other Corgi's (Otis and Butters). Through Instagram they had met up with many other Corgi owners and had developed friendships (or in this case would it be a pupship?) and so invited all of their Corgi friends for a total of about 17 Corgis!
But all of the Pinterest cutesy stuff isn't not necessary, and there’s no need to cause undue stress. If nothing is popping out at you, consider just buying or creating a few simple decorations to spice up the space, whatever feels festive and is within your budget.
Here’s a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing:
TIme period 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s
Formal / Classy
Modern or vintage
Fun & festive
If you really want to go for it, choose music that goes with your theme. Or if you don't have a theme, how about playing music about dogs?
And here's another video play list all about our favorite four legged friends.
1. Photo Booth
A photo booth is a great way to entertain people as they are coming in and to capture lots of silly moments. The style of the photo booth also helps to tie your theme together. You have two ways to go here:
Hire a photo booth (either enclosed or open air). It’s a piece of equipment that takes the photo, and texts or emails it to you on the spot. The old school ones print out the photo from the booth itself. You can rent one of these from Loanables.
A DIY photo booth, which is a simple backdrop in an area that is well lit. YOu can choose the colors based on your theme. If you’re willing to spend some money you can hire a photographer, but many people will be happy to take selfies or ask someone a friend to take their photo. Here’s a cool photo booth app you can use.
In either case you can prepare fun props that go along with the theme. Facemasks, hats, etc. You can go the DIY route if you have the time and are crafty, if not, there’s always the Dollar store, Etsy and Amazon
2. Birthday hats: Even if your dog cannot stand anything being on their body, you have to get at least one photo in a birthday hat, to post on Instagram.
3. Birthday outfit: If your pup is cool with a hat, maybe a party collar wouldn’t bother them either? Birthday collars stay on better than hats, so it would be fun if all dogs in attendance wore one, at least for the photos.
4. Balloon banner: You can make a birthday sign a few different ways- craft a banner on your own, order a banner from Amazon, go upscale and get one from Etsy… Our favorite idea? Get a balloon banner, a fun and gorgeous way to state the ocassion - Happy Barkday or whatever you're celebrating
5. More balloons? Yes, please! If you have a popular dog breed, you can scour for balloons featuring your pup’s likeness and scatter them around the party. Everybody loves balloons, and having them up in your dog’s likeness is even better than those adorable hand stretched dog balloons that clowns make. Cute, but you know, not very specific. Dollar Tree sells helium balloons for $1 each, best deal ever. You may be limited on dog balloons though. Party City has a bigger variety, but they’re more expensive. Or if you not bothered with helium, then Amazon has a lot of choices
6. Doggie food plates: Whether you’re serving human food or just some cake to the pups, do it in style with these adorable paper plates emblazoned with some seriously cute pups. A themeless theme, if you will. Suitable for any occasion and worth the price of admission. (Amazon)
7. Treats Galore!
A beautiful display of doggie treats really sets the mood. You’ll want to make sure they’re all natural, and grain free if any of the dogs have a grain sensitivity. You can pick up a nice variety from The Dog Bakery
8. Party package: Wanna make decorating super easy on yourself? It doesn’t have to all be hyper individual and unique. If you want to save time or just aren’t super crafty yourself (no shame!), consider ordering a pre made party that includes everything you’ll need like balloons, hats, goodie bags, candles and more. Check out The Dog Bakery's party selection for stress free ordering.
9. Goodie Bags
If other dogs are invited, making goodie bags will be a a real pup pleaser. You can make them up individually or buy them as part of a package. Ideas for things to put in the goodie bags:
Squaky tennis balls
When Vivian Son threw her corgi Nacho a birthday party, she and the other co-hosts made up goodie bags, that included a customized bandana with the dog’s name on it!
Here's a great checklist to help you plan the decorations
Once you’ve decided on a place to throw it (and booked it, if necessary), and a guest list, you can send out a invite to the party, either through:
a digital service like Evite (where you can design and personalize something cute and doggie related),
Buy them at a store (you still have to write or print them out, address, stamp, mail)
Make them yourself
This was the invite that Lauren Burnham and Arie Luyendyk from The Bachelor sent for their dog's birthday party. The Dog Bakery provided all of the doggie treats!
Things to mention on the invite:
Obviously let your guests know who, what, when and where. Also:
On the invite, you can let guests know whether or not they should bring a gift (and, if so, what kind). Maybe your dog has specific allergies or kinds of toys they prefer. Or maybe they really don’t need anything and you’d guests donate money in his/her honor to a local rescue or shelter group.
There is no wrong answer, just decide what works best for you and your pup and make it clear on the invite so that you don’t have to spend too much time answering inevitable followup questions afterwards!
If you’re having a large party, you could always create a registry on Amazon. This is a great idea for a Puppy Shower or a birthday.
You can also include general guidelines on the invite about leaving aggressive dogs at home checking with you before bringing an entourage. When it comes to dogs, you’ll want to be more clear than ever before on who is coming, who they’re bringing and which four legged creatures are joining them.
Tip: Two hours for a dog party is just about the perfect length before dogs and humans become too tired!
TIP: If there are going to be multiple dogs involved, make sure none of them have food motivated aggression, and even if everyone seems pretty chill, it’s still good to be cautious while handing out treats.
Make sure there is plenty of water for the dogs and drinking bowls aplenty. Instead of goodie bags you could provide dog bowls customized with each dog’s name (if budget and craftiness permits)
An idea we love from Sit In Chicago is the concept of a doggie mocktail bar, that is, making specialized drinks for pups like chickentini or a long Island Iced Beef. Be sure to have lots of disposable bowls on hand.
Another fun idea is to serve beer for dogs. Yes, that’s right for dogs. But don't worry, they won't be stumbling around knocking other guests over.
All ingredients are American made and the broth is made from scratch - no onions, salt or fat is added.
Food For Dogs
Here are some fun doggie treats you could buy or prepare:
Pupsicles / Frozen Bites - these are easy peesy. Order a bone shape ice tray like this one, and then freeze up some yummy things dogs will love. Alternatively, you can freeze the items in a dixie cup, or in a traditional popsicle molds.
Gourmet Dog Treats - a spread of cute dog treats will really set the party mood. These treats from The Dog Bakery were enjoyed by Pierre & Gus Gus at their epic birthday party. Check out their Instagram story for tons of ideas.
Cut these up into bite size snacks and place in bowls.
Iceberg lettuce stalk or celery
Sugar snap peas
Ice Cream For Dogs
If you're going to serve cake, you have to have ice cream, right? This ice cream is maple bacon flavored. It's all natural, easy to prepare, creamy and scoopable. Your dog will love it.
TIP: Whatever you decide to do foodwise, be sure not to have anything around that’s harmful to dogs, like chocolate, grapes, onions and caffeine.
Food For Humans
Consider the time of day:
If it’s morning, then easy peesy-- pastries, bagels, coffee
If it’s afternoon or evening, then you may want to offer nibbles and refreshments. We won’t go into detail on human food as there are a many other blogs that can talk appetizers better than we can… but did I hear “costco”?
The pièce de résistance is of course the cake!. Come on, what birthday party doesn’t involve a little cake for the birthday boy or girl!? Whether you decide to make your own or order one in, there are tons of amazingly awesome doggie approved birthday cakes and cake recipes out there.
If other dogs are coming, be sure to ask if they are sensitive to grain, if so you’ll want to get a grain free cake. The Dog Bakery makes all of its cakes in a grain free version and ships all over the United States. And the grain free version is just as cute as the original recipe.
When it comes to cakes for dogs, do not give your dog a human cake. They are loaded with sugar which is very bad for dogs.
TIP: When it comes to refreshments for dogs, remember, less is more. Cake is a treat, even if it is a grain free cake made with all natural ingredients. Dogs aren’t used to eating it. So, moderation is key to avoid sick stomachs. Nothing shuts down a party faster than a room full of sick dogs!
Here are your options
1. Make one yourself (either from scratch or from a premix). Going with a grain free option is better, so all doggie guests can enjoy. Here are seven grain free dog cake recipes we like.
Pierre & Gus Gus are well known pups on Instagram. They joined forces to throw an epic birthday party with 30 other dogs and 40 humans. The Dog Bakery made them a tiered cake for the occasion! Check out their Instagram story for tons of ideas.
TIP: Sign up for The Dog Bakery’s Birthday club and get discounts on cakes and other doggo delights bit.ly/TDB-Birthday-Club
So you’ve got the guest list, the space, the time and the decorations on lock. So what will you actually do at the party? Before you get stressed, remember that this can be as complicated or as simple as you like.
Maybe you’re happiest to just gather some people and pups in one place and hang out! Chat and let the dogs run around. Nothing wrong with that!
Also, if you book a location, often times they will have a puppy playground of sorts. So between the photobooth and the playground you should be good. The humans will most likely be chatting and chasing around their dogs.
If you do want to organize some activities, here are some real pup pleasers. Some of these are pretty crazy, so pick and choose based on the type of dog you have.
Doggie musical chairs: Same as you’ve always played it - just with dogs! Have owners walk around a circle of chairs with their pups while the music plays, and when it stops both they and their dog have to sit as quickly as possible. Whomever is last is out! We’ve also heard of this being played at dog birthday parties with hoola hoops, and having the pups sit in the hoops while the owners stand outside of it. Whatever feels easier to acquire and pull off!
Doggie drawing contest: Have creative friends? Bring paper and pencils or paints or colored pencils and have everyone draw either your dog or their own. Ask everyone vote on their favorite or play a game where guests guess who drew each one.
Doggie "Tattoos": This is a tattoo for the dog, not the human. Buy or make stencils of fun things like hearts, cross & bones and other symbols you like. Then get doggie safe hair paint. Press the stencil against the dog, and spray the paint in the stencil for a fun tattoo! Here's a quick tutorial from Matt Elias, Pierre's dad.
Trick contest: Have owners and their pups show off their dogs best moves, and see who has the best sit, stay, lay and high five!
Bubbles - Bacon Flavored. Buy or rent a bubble machine, then use bacon flavored bubbles. The bubbles are 100% non toxic and made specifically for dogs. Dog's will be running around trying to catch them for hours! Find the bacon bubbles on Amazon.
Jungle Gym- Simple ramps can add lots of fun to any dog party!
Water Park Pool - If your party is in your backyard, it’s summer and you have water loving dogs coming to the party, what could be more fun than this? You can order them from Amazon.
For Small Dogs
This one is 10 inches deep, so for small dogs you'd only fill it up a few inches
For Medium Dogs:
For Big Dogs
Doggy slip and slide, water slides & mystery box challenges- if you watch YouTube you know what these are. If you don’t, take a look at this doggo version of a mystery box challenge. The video does issue disclaimers that viewers should exercise caution before trying this at home.
Doggy Ball Pits & Bounce Houses
Dog’s love ball pits and exploring! (If you don’t believe me watch this Instagram Instagram story of Pierre & Gus Gus's big birthday bash. They invited 30 dogs) If budget permits, this would be an awesome addition to any backyard dog party! Check it out on Amazon.
Awesome idea for a backyard party, that has plenty of space. Get a do it yourself agility kit (or make one) and see how the canine guests perform. Could be good for a lot of laughs. Check out agility in action.
Water Fountain Fun - check out this fun fountain that attaches to a hose. Once dogs get the hang of it they’ll be busy for hours. For double the fun, have a few going in the back yard.
Don’t forget the prizes!
You can’t go wrong with treats, especially jerky treats. We’ve never met a dog… anywhere ever, that didn’t like meaty treats. We recommend these treats that have supplements baked right in. Go for the 'Immunity & Digestion" formula. After all that birthday cake, they'll need it.
You want the day to go off without a hitch, and be as least stressful as possible, right? Of course! The best way to ensure this outcome is to plan as meticulously as possible for the big event.
According to Arden Moore, author of Dog Parties: How to Party with Your Pup, you should map out your party plans into checklists in advance. She also suggests shopping in advance so you can take advantage of bargains.
We recommend you break your lists up by:
Checklist #1 Stuff you need to do or make
Order Cake from The Dog Bakery
Make sign for drink station
Organize music / create playlist
Checklist #2 Grocery Shopping List
Beer & wine
Checklist #3 - Things to do on Party Day
Pick up cake from bakery
give your pup a really good morning or afternoon walk before the big event, have a bowel movement and run off energy at the dog park before the party. They’ll likely be getting lots of attention and love at the event and it’s best to put them in the best spot to take that in and not feel overwhelmed!
Have plenty of poop bags, cleaning spray, paper towels and a first aid kit handy.
A good tip if other dogs are coming to the party is to have each pup introduced on neutral territory before joining in. This will require some extra coordinating with the owners of any invited dogs, but just try and get everyone showing up around the same time and stay in touch to facilitate a little doggie facetime before the event really gets going.
Here are some party planning templates you can use.
All of this party planning you may have forgotten to get your dog an actual gift! It may not be as big of a deal if you're having a larger party like Pierre did (shown above). He had about 30 other dogs at his party. Lucky Dog!
Whether it's for your own dog or you're going to a dog birthday party, here’s our 4 favorite doggo gifts that will be sure to delight!
1. Birthday toy: What do you get the dog who has everything? Other than your undying love and a badass party, of course. One super special toy, duh! Buying them a replica of their favorite-ever toy is great, no doubt, but you can also grab them a birthday-specific toy they’ll cherish for weeks (or maybe minutes, depending on your pups commitment to ripping up toys) to come.
2. Bully Sticks: Every dog loves bully sticks. Big dogs, small dogs, ruff and tough dogs, fluffy and fruffy dogs. You can't go wrong with bully sticks.
3. Jerky Treats: Not all dogs love all treats, but all dogs do love jerky. What dog doesn't love meat? We recommend jerky treats that have supplements baked right in, like pumpkin and coconut oil. Pumpkin is great for settling an uneasy tummy, which may be needed after a big party!
4. Birthday card: If you wanna get your dog a card, that’s a great idea, but we kinda feel like you might as well make it edible. Dogs are obviously not going to get anything out of a basic paper card, no matter how much they make your heart soar. And while we enjoy some basic fun doggie birthday hijinks that are kinda for the adults too, doing something for them that they can’t enjoy at all seems a bit silly. But how can they not enjoy something that they can literally eat? We’re sold. Yum. (Amazon, $5)
Enjoy the big day! Hooray, the big event has finally arrived! You’ve planned well, and you’re ready to shower your pup with all the love and attention they deserve. Know that there will be bumps and surprises along the way, but that’s to be expected and your dog is definitely not judging you! That’s part of what makes them so great, right?
And that’s a wrap! We hope the guide has you brainstorming lots of fun ways to create the perfect birthday pawty for your pup. Share your plan in the comments below, or tell us about past doggie birthday parties you’ve thrown!
Pssst... sign up for The Dog Bakery’s Birthday club and get discounts on cakes and other doggo delights bit.ly/TDB-Birthday-Club
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