Summer is here, the universal time of year for outdoor fun: beer, hot dogs and a dip in the pool. But anyone can have a barbecue. Why not do something different and have a dog party?
If you have a spacious backyard, invite all your dog-loving friends over for an afternoon of human and doggie socialization.
Having 10 to 30 dogs over is a little chaotic (my record is 45 dachshunds), but if you plan carefully, the afternoon should flow smoothly. You might even get to enjoy your own party!
What to Serve
Prepare a menu for dogs and humans featuring light, healthy snacks that are also dog-safe. If you start the party at 2 or 3 o’clock, your guests won’t expect a huge spread.
- Fresh Vegetables & Ranch Dip
- Fruit Salad
- Cheese & Cracker Platter
- Homemade Cookies
- Water, Soda & Lemonade
Set up the two menus on different tables so your guests know what’s for humans and what’s for dogs. I’ll never forget my first dog party, when a well-meaning guest asked me if something was wrong with the cookies. He was eating a homemade dog treat, of course! At least it was made with peanut butter and not liver.
Set Up Wisely
When you’re setting up the party area, make sure you plan for the dogs’ comfort, too. Set outdoor beds (old patio furniture cushions are great) around the perimeter of the party for pooped-out puppies. Speaking of poop, make sure your guests know where the poop bags are located and do a quick poop sweep every half hour or so.
This video shows a fun dog party from the dog’s point of view:
Avoid Mishaps & Squabbles
A large group of strange dogs can be disastrous if you don’t plan ahead. On the invitations, tell your guests that only dog and people-friendly pups may attend. Here are a few more tips for a harmonious afternoon:
- Banish leashes! A great many dogs are docile and sweet — until they meet another dog on a leash. Provide a spot for your guests to hang their dogs’ leashes, and insist they remove their dog’s lead as soon as they arrive.
- Keep spray bottles handy. A spritz of water in the face will interrupt bad behavior, like barking, dominance and playing too roughly with the other dogs.
- Provide a time-out area. Set out a few crates for overstimulated dogs that need a break from the festivities.
- Prevent food thievery. Set out chairs in a separate area from the food or dining tables so that dogs aren’t tempted to jump up and sneak a treat. You’re serving a buffet of light snacks, so your guests won’t need to sit down to eat.
- Monitor the exits. A runaway dog is a major party foul. Make sure that any street access is secure.
- Keep doors closed. In your house, close the doors to all your rooms to prevent dogs from investigating off-limits areas.
Use common sense throughout the party. Watch carefully for signs of imminent problems. Discourage dogs from dominance behavior like posturing or humping, and step in as soon as you see conflict arising. If you’re too busy to keep your eye on your own dogs, nominate a friend or family member to monitor your pups.
In my experience, dog parties don’t last nearly as long as humans-only parties, so don’t be offended if your guests leave after only an hour or two. By then, the dogs are tuckered and the humans are ready to rest up a bit.