How Do You Throw a Dog Party?
Coco Chanel’s recent birthday party evoked all the glamour of the famous clothing designer. In an exquisitely decorated party room, guests nibbled on appetizers served by uniformed attendants carrying golden trays. Only select partygoers, however, enjoyed the signature “Coco Cocktail,” a warmed, low-sodium chicken broth mixed with filtered water. As it turned out, many of Coco’s party invitees were just like her: Maltese dogs.
Handling nearly every aspect of Coco’s canine birthday bash was Dorothy Moore, owner of The Dining Dog Café & Bakery, an Edmonds, Wash. restaurant. It was a cakewalk, or one might say bonewalk, for Moore, whose restaurant, with its white tablecloths, soft music and chandeliers, caters to the needs of her canine customers.
As one of the world’s leading party organizers for dogs, however, she frequently leaves her restaurant to orchestrate perfect pooch parties.
Working with such an expert means the doggie sky, and perhaps your budget, are the only limitations.
From Weddings to Fashion Shows For Your Dog
In the past, Moore baked wedding cakes for human couples, but now she prefers to cater dog weddings. During one recent ceremony, the furry bride and groom stared rapturously into each other’s eyes, while the proud owners stood nearby holding back tears of joy. She says, “Tiny framed pictures of the dogs decorated the top of the canine-edible cake, while guests received toy and treat favor bags.”
She also recently organized a fashion show extravaganza at The Beverly Hills Mutt Club. Humans and dogs modeled spring fashions. Afterwards, “owners savored fancy salads and pasta dishes, while all of the dogs gobbled up my special canine quiche, doggie cookies and appetizers.”
For other parties, Moore has brought in massage therapists, spa specialists and pet psychics. “The massage theme is especially popular,” she says. “Dogs receive their massage first on a soft, warm blanket. While they relax, their owners then get a soothing 10-minute massage.” The key to this event, and many others, she believes, is to make sure food and activities involve both canines and their owners, so no one feels bored or left behind.
What Can I Do For My Dog’s Birthday?
Moore says you can successfully organize such parties yourself. “You might think of them as you would a children’s party, with that level of creativity and extra care needed.” She offers these tips:
Leash Your Dog During the Party
“Instruct all guests to bring their dogs on a leash,” she says, adding that adults should also always be in charge of holding the leash. “I’ve been to some parties where the owner was having such a good time that he left the dog in the care of his kid. Adults really need to stay with their pets.”
Make a Pit Stop Before the Dog Party
Be sure to make a bathroom stop before the event. For obvious reasons, it avoids embarrassing “party pooper” problems that might occur later.
Don’t Bring Antisocial Dogs
If your dog has a hard time relating to unfamiliar dogs and people, it probably wouldn’t be happy at the party anyway.
Prep For the Dog Party in Advance
Many large party supply stores now carry invitations, hats and other items suitable for a dog fest. Online businesses like Fun Stuff for Dogs even specialize in dog party items.
Choose a Theme For Your Dog Party
Carry your theme throughout all your party elements. At a St. Patrick’s Day party, for example, the guests received green hats, corned beef treats and enjoyed Irish music, played softly enough for sensitive canine ears. For tips on a Christmas themed party see below “Plan A Holiday Party for Your Dog and Guests This Christmas”
Keep Guests Occupied
One of the easiest and least expensive solutions is to use your party’s greatest resource: its canine attendants. Consider holding contests, such as “largest tail,” “best trick” or “floppiest ears,” with prizes or paper awards going to the winners.
Party Food For Your Dog’s Party
The preparation and serving of food for your dog party might at first seem like your biggest challenge, but it’s actually one of the simplest aspects to consider. Although Moore whips up special food treats, she admits that these are just snacks and that all dogs “should still follow their normal diets.”
That having been said, food time doesn’t have to be dullsville for your dog and its friends. Moore often likes to offer dogs their usual food favorites, only all together and in much smaller portions than normal, creating a sort of hors d’oeuvre arrangement. “Present it nicely, with the foods separated on a large tray or plate, so that it looks appetizing and festive to both dogs and their owners,” she advises. As for a business cocktail party, the goal is to enhance the overall experience with the food and not fill up your human and dog guests so that they all want to lie down and take a nap.
Another tip is to avoid serving dogs hard bones, chewy foods or other hard-to-bite edibles. While these may be fine for everyday home noshing by your pet, the added excitement of a party, or canines eating something they might not be used to, could lead to choking and spit-ups, which could understandably ruin any party.
Parties Are Healthy for Dogs and Humans
Numerous studies show that positive socializing is healthy for you and your dog. Having a party for pets can even help shy people come out of their social shells. The friendly, uninhibited nature of canines somehow helps break the ice. Moore says, “I’ve had a lot of people show up to my events and tell me they hate parties, but at the end of the evening, they are usually the ones who are most into it and who don’t want to leave because they are enjoying good friends – human and canine – and good times.”
Plan A Holiday Party for Your Dog and Guests This Christmas
The cold weather may have resulted in less time at the dog run, but that’s the perfect excuse to give your pet and its friends their own little holiday shindig.
We enlisted the help of Ada Nieves, a pet party planner based in New York City, for some ideas to put together a memorable canine winter gathering.
Location For Your Dog’s Christmas Party
If you’re wary of bringing too many four-legged friends into your own living space, ask local animal organizations about using their facilities as inexpensive alternatives to renting a party spot. Some shelter or rescue groups have locations where owners can have parties; instead of getting gifts for the pets, people bring a donation for the place, a benefit for everyone. Another idea is to check with local pet-friendly bars or coffee shops.
The Guest List For Your Dog’s Christmas Party
“It’s impossible to invite everyone, but you don’t want to hurt feelings,” says Nieves. Nieves’ client Rachel Passaretti experienced this dilemma. “The most important thing was to create a safe and fun environment for the animals, and by hand-selecting each four-legged guest, we were able to accomplish that goal,” recalls Passaretti. “This was often hard, as we had a few people who even tried to snag invites.”
Nieves thinks the key is to invite dogs that you know will be friendly to other dogs and that are not territorial or protective about food. For friends whose feelings are likely to be hurt, she suggests sending their dog a gift bag of treats and toys to let them know they’re thought of and appreciated.
Canine Christmas Attire
Encourage your guests to dress their dogs in seasonal garb. Inexpensive costumes such as elves and reindeer are easy to find these days, and some guests might get creative with homemade getups. For dogs that dislike clothing, Nieves recommends a red ribbon loosely tied like a bow around the neck, or a simple sleigh bell on the collar.
Doggy Gift Exchange
This is just like a traditional grab-bag-style exchange, but the gifts are for the dogs. Have each guest bring a wrapped doggy gift. It’s a good idea to set a price range. Then put all the presents in one location. Nieves says that at her parties, the owners take turns letting their dog sniff around the packages, and whichever package they seem to like most is the one they “choose” and get from the gift exchange.
Pictures With “Santa Paws”
Have someone dress up as St. Nick and pose for pictures with each dog. “People love using those pictures for next year’s Christmas card to send out to all their friends,” says Nieves. Ambitious hosts can even arrange to have the photos printed on-site and handed out at the end of the party.
This can be a hit-or-miss moment, but it’s true that dogs are instinctively wired to howl. If you get all the dogs together and their owners start to howl, often enough, the dogs will follow suit. Before you know it, the whole room is howling together (think of the dog pound scene in Lady and the Tramp).
Of course, over-scheduling such dogtivities can be cumbersome, and some hosts prefer to mostly let the pups enjoy an unexpected day of “free play” while the humans mingle. Regardless of how many of the above ideas you put to use, the important thing is to make everyone happy.
Article written by Author: Brad Kloza, the Dog Daily Expert