2 Perfect timing
You can celebrate a birthday, Christmas, Easter, or any other occasion with dogs and owners. Consider how long you want the party to last - an hour is probably long enough and a good time is from 2pm to 3pm, as dogs and owners will not be in need of a huge meal.
3 On the fence
If your party is indoors, close off any rooms that you don't want dogs to enter. Position stairgates to prevent access to upstairs and fence off no-go areas in the garden. Create a quiet area with crates for any dogs who become overexcited and need some time out to calm down.
4 Party food
Plan a menu for dogs and their owners, but place the two tables of food in separate locations so there are no mix-ups. Dogs will love liver cake treats, carrot sticks, chopped cheese, or chicken, while owners will enjoy cupcakes decorated with paw prints or a slice of specially dog-themed cake. Provide lots of fresh water for the dogs - one bowl per dog.
5 Deck the halls
Get creative and decorate the venue with posters, paw-print themed tablecloths, banners, napkins, and paper plates. You can buy lots of goodies on the internet but why not make your own? Children will love getting involved with cutting, sticking, and colouring. It may be better to avoid balloons, as many dogs will be terrified if one pops near them.
Send out invitations in good time, stipulating the date, time, and occasion. Decide on a theme beforehand, such as Christmas capers or Easter bunnies and include details, so people have the chance to dress up if they want to. It's best to invite a limited number of dogs of similar height and temperament whom your own dog already gets on well with. A party is not the time to introduce strange dogs to each other. Don't be afraid to put on the invitation that aggressive dogs are not welcome.
7 Goody bags
Prepare some dog-themed party bags for dogs and owners to take home. The contents can be as inexpensive as you like, perhaps a decorated paper bag containing leftover dog treats, or you can include a gift such as a small toy, or home-made bandanna. Distributing goody bags is a great way to wind a party down and gently remind people that the event is drawing to a close.
8 Fun and games
Think of some fun activities and games for dogs and owners such as a little obstacle course for them to negotiate. Hiding treats and timing how long it takes for dog and owner to fi nd them - before eating them - is good fun. Throwing a piece of sausage into water for dogs to retrieve will keep them busy. Variations on regular party games such as musical mats, pass the parcel, and musical statues, where the owner has to put their dog into a sit when the music stops, will keep everyone entertained.
9 Walk it off
As well as party food and games, it can be a good idea to enjoy a nice group walk. Dogs who are good off the lead can relax and let off steam by running and playing together, while owners can burn off a few calories after all the cakes they've devoured.
10 Safety first
Even the most placid of dogs can become overexcited at times so ensure they are always well supervised, particularly if children are present. Inform your neighbours beforehand and reassure them that the party will just be for an hour or so. Stock up on poo bags and cleaning materials in case of accidents, and check that your first aid kit is full and readily available. Now relax and enjoy.
Top party tips
- A party can be a perfect opportunity to raise funds for a dog charity. Invite people to donate to take part in games or put out a collection box for owners to drop loose change in.
- Don't forget to take lots of pictures. You can print some off and pop them into an envelope with a special thank you card for all your guests.
- Fill a paddling pool with water for dogs to enjoy splashing around in. Alternatively, create a ball pool or sandpit. Don't allow all the dogs in at the same time.
- Celia Bell, from Devizes, Wiltshire, hosts an annual birthday party for her three-year-old Miniature Poodle, Mr Pippin. "I buy a birthday cake with candles for the humans and we all sing ‘Happy Birthday' to Pippin," explained Celia. "All the dogs go home with a party bag containing a toy and treats, plus chocolates for the owners. Pippin is very sociable and loves being the centre of attention."