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Your dog is a member of your family. So, whether you just sing a song or throw an elaborate pooch party, it’s fun to acknowledge your dog’s birthday.

But just as you wouldn’t throw a surprise party for a person who hates being the center of attention, you wouldn’t invite a crowd of canines for a socially reserved pet. Instead, match the festivities to your dog’s personality. Here are some ideas to help you celebrate your pup’s special day.

Celebrate Your Dog’s Birthday One-on-One

Not every dog is a social butterfly. Some prefer the company of people over other dogs, and some just want to spend time with their human family. That can be particularly true for anxious dogs and certain aloof breeds. If your dog’s idea of a good time is time spent just with you, celebrate their birthday or the anniversary of the day you first brought them home with a one-on-one activity. Try one of the following:

  • Explore a hiking path: A nature adventure will allow your dog to experience new sights and smells.
  • Visit a pet store: Many pet supply stores allow dogs inside, so take your dog down the toy or treat aisles to pick their own birthday gift.
  • Take a sniff walk: Rather than focusing on exercise or bathroom business, let your dog sniff whatever they want for as long as they want.
  • Have a movie night: Cuddle with your dog on the couch and stream some nature documentaries. You can even share a few kernels of air-popped popcorn with your pup.
  • Provide an at-home spa day: If your dog enjoys baths or brushing, have a grooming day, so they look their best for their birthday. You can even give a puppy massage for maximum stress relief.
  • Enroll in a dog sport training class: Activities like agility and AKC Scent Work allow each dog to work on their own, so they’re perfect for more solitary dogs. You might even find your pet’s new favorite activity.
Golden Retriever with a woman hiking in a mountainous landscape.
Niall Pinder via Getty Images

Throw a Dog Birthday Party

For more social dogs, you can keep it simple and go to the dog park or a dog-friendly beach to meet up with some regular canine buddies. But if you really want to mark the occasion, go all out and host a dog birthday party. Just be sure to match the guest list to your dog’s preferences – other dogs, human friends and family, or both. The day will be busy and chaotic, so your dog should be comfortable with all the attendees. This isn’t the time to introduce your pet to unfamiliar dogs or children, for example.

Make sure the location is escape-proof. Depending on the weather, your fenced backyard could be a perfect party place. Or perhaps a friend or relative could host for you in their yard. Indoor parties are an option too, but if other dogs will be in attendance, consider using your basement or another open area that doesn’t contain valuables. The dogs could get rowdy, and you don’t want any damage to your property. Finally, you can approach local doggy daycares or training schools about renting space in their facility.

©Ljupco Smokovski -

Dog Birthday Party Supplies

Just as you might for a child’s birthday party, go ahead and pick a theme. It can be as simple as celebrating all things dog, or it can revolve around a superhero, movie, or musical group. Have fun with it! Then get your decorations ready. A giant dog-themed birthday banner makes for a great photo backdrop, and don’t forget the party hat and bandana.

Be sure to provide refreshments for both the humans and the pooches. People will appreciate themed foods like hot dogs or paw-print decorated cupcakes. Bone or dog-shaped cookie cutters can be used to create all kinds of fun finger foods from sugar cookies to cheese slices to dog-shaped fruit chunks. You can also serve chili or potato chips in new, clean dog food bowls.

Be aware that some of the foods for your human guests may be dangerous for dogs. However, you can still make a cake for the birthday dog using a dog-safe birthday cake recipe. A paw or bone-shaped silicone baking pan will add to the fun. You can even serve dog-friendly ice cream with the cake! And don’t forget about loot bags for the canine guests. Consider a few homemade dog treats or toys, like a birthday tennis ball or treat-dispensing toy.

Games for Your Dog’s Birthday Party

Happy African American young man sit on couch having fun with dackel dog, smiling black male relax at home with funny animal companion, millennial guy laughing playing with pet on home sofa
©fizkes -

You will definitely want to get your dog a birthday present, like some birthday-themed squeaky toys. Try wrapping the gifts for extra excitement. You can place them in a rolled-up paper bag, so your dog needs to tear their way inside, or loosely tie them in a tea towel and watch your dog work the ends free to get at their reward. If there are other canine guests, save the gifts until after the party is over. You don’t want any squabbles over access to a fun, new possession. Instead, organize some games to keep the dogs occupied. The following are some entertaining birthday activities to try:

  • Hide-and-Seek: Have each dog’s owner hide somewhere in the party space then see who can get their dog to find them first.
  • Musical Sits: The doggy version of musical chairs, this game requires a mat or towel for the number of participants minus one. When the music starts, each person walks around the mats with their dog. When the music stops, each dog is to sit on a mat. The dog left without a mat is out of the game. Remove one mat each round and repeat until a single dog and handler team are left victorious.
  • Bobbing for Treats: Fill a kiddie pool with water then sprinkle with treats. Let the dogs take turns snatching up snacks.
  • Snuffle Time: Hide food-stuffed toys around the space and let the dogs search for them. Be sure you have more toys than dogs to prevent competition.
  • Simon Says: Each dog owner team must follow an obedience instruction like “sit” or “down.” The slowest team to respond each round is out until only the fastest team remains as the winner.
Chalabala/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Supervise the dogs during games and other activities to make sure there are no disagreements. Then sit back and have fun. There’s nothing more joyful than a happy dog and if you tailor the celebration to your dog’s personality, they will love every minute of their birthday.
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