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Are you among the large percentage of dog owners who throw birthday parties for their dogs? If not, you might be missing out on some big fun — for both you and your dog. And before you decide that it’s the silliest idea ever, think about it: people having fun, dogs having fun — what could be better? We have some tips for throwing a fun, safe, and manageable shindig to celebrate your dog.

When
His birthday of course. If you don’t know your dog’s actual birthday, choose the day you brought him home, or the day you first met.

Where
This depends on the time of year. In warm weather, your large fenced yard is ideal. If you don’t have a fenced yard, consider your local dog park or a dog beach. For inside parties, you’ll obviously want a dog-friendly locale, like a local doggie daycare or obedience school. Whatever the location, make sure it’s escape-proof.

Who
As much as you may wish to invite every friend you’ve ever had, first take into account your dog’s personality. Is he an outgoing, friendly pup that gets along with people, other dogs, and kids? Or does he prefer the company of a few familiar canine pals? Perhaps your dog is more people-oriented and not comfortable around a lot of other dogs. This should determine who’s invited. Regardless, it’s better not to invite dogs he’s never met; a party isn’t the best place for them to get to know each other.

What
Get creative and choose a theme or keep it casual. If your dog is into it, this could be the perfect time for a doggie outfit or hat. Every party needs activities. If it’s hot out, you could fill a kiddie pool, so the dogs can take a dip, or set up a sprinkler. A basket of new tennis balls will entertain your canine guests. Or combine both ideas and fill a kiddie pool with tennis balls: instant bouncy pit for dogs. Fill a bucket of water with tasty snacks, and let the dogs play “bobbing for treats” (maybe one at a time). You could also fill Kongs with treats and hide them all over the yard. Of course, all of this needs human supervision, since, as with children, what starts out as play can end in a tantrum or a squabble.

Food and Drink
What’s a party without food and drink? For the humans, consider dog-themed treats, like mini-hotdogs and sandwiches cut into bone shapes. How about a big pot of chili served up in a giant dog food bowl and trail mix that looks like kibble? Use dog-themed cookie-cutters to make cookies for your human guests. For drinks, there are several beers with dog-themed names to go along with the usual soda and water.

The birthday dog and his friends deserve some special treats, too. You can whip up some delicious party dog treats that are healthy and tasty. Make sure you place several bowls of fresh water around the venue, too. And, of course, the birthday cake! This dog birthday cake kit comes with cake mix, frosting, a bone-shaped baking pan, and even little candles!

Don’t forget the goody bags. Send your canine guests home with some treats to enjoy after the party’s over.

Dog parties share similarities with children’s birthday parties: lots of excitement and noise, a great deal of mess, maybe some disagreements, fun, and a bit of chaos. There are so few times in life when we can enjoy pure simple happiness, and what could be happier than a bunch of dogs, playing freely, misbehaving joyously, and generally having a great time?

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