For a pet parent, throwing a shindig for your dog presents the perfect excuse to celebrate another year together. It can be as big or low key as you choose. You could host a gathering to celebrate (complete with cute photos of your dog wearing a birthday hat), or quietly give your dog a special meal; there’s no wrong way to turn it into a special occasion. If you have celebrated in the past, you’re in good company. Some 56% of survey respondents say they’ve celebrated their dog’s birthday.
If you’re like most pet parents, there’s no way to know your dog’s exact day of birth. For that reason, many pet families go with the next best thing and celebrate the anniversary of when the dog became a member of the family. It’s a memorable event, so naturally, you’ll want to set aside some time to celebrate those fabulous furry beings and the happiness they bring to your life.
Why celebrate your dog’s birthday?
When it comes to celebrating a dog’s birthday, you may wonder just what the dog is getting from the experience. That raises a question on what time means to a dog. How do dogs process time, and does a birthday celebration mean anything to them? Some may think it’s a silly question, but it’s worth asking.
When you look at their behavior, there are plenty of cues that dogs can comprehend the passage of time. When humans leave for a trip, dogs miss their people — greeting them with crazed enthusiasm when they return. Recent research suggests dogs are capable of episodic memory. That is, they can remember specific things that happened in their lives.
Also, many dogs are on top of their daily routine. Some seem to have an innate sense of when it’s time for the morning walk, when someone is due home from work, and when it’s time to fill their bowl with kibble. In fact, some pet parents marvel at their dog’s precision to remind them it’s time for their evening treat.
What is it that guides these on-the-clock cues from your dogs? Scientists still don’t quite understand what guides dogs to do things at specific times. Perhaps it’s the circadian rhythms, or perhaps their senses pick up on environmental cues that go undetected or unnoticed by humans.
It’s harder to know whether dogs anticipate events and happenings that take place every year.
On the other hand, dogs are attuned to human emotions. Which means they’ll soak up the positive vibes of a celebration, and that will get the tails wagging. So even if they can’t grasp the exact reason you’re celebrating them, they’ll think it’s all just terrific. And that’s what really counts, isn’t it?
[Discover how old your dog is in human years by reading this blog by Raising Your Paws podcast.]
How to celebrate your dog’s birthday
A dog birthday party can look a lot like any other family celebration, complete with cake, delicious food, playing, gifts and singing. Whatever you do, if the celebration is a showcase of food, people and fun, there’s zero chance he’ll come out of it feeling disappointed or let down. Dogs usually give us high approval ratings. That’s exactly why doing nice things for them is so fun. When you look at it that way, hosting a birthday party for a dog seems perfectly reasonable. Here are some do’s and and one don’t when it comes to planning a canine-centered birthday bash.
Do check your local bricks-and-mortar pet shop for inspiration
They’ll probably have the name of someone in town who makes beautiful special occasion dog biscuits, or a dog-centric birthday cake for the canine party-goers.
Don’t overwhelm your dog
Dogs thrive on routine, and respond best to familiar activities. So when it comes to planning the shindig, keep a limit on new elements.
Do be safe when it comes to party planning
Especially if the coronavirus is still spreading. If possible, opt for an outdoor celebration where human friends can keep a safe distance and limit the guest list. Since it will be impossible for all those hands to ignore the dog of the hour, be sure and keep that hand sanitizer ready and available.
Don’t force your dog to celebrate
If your dog wants to bow out of the celebration and hide in his kennel, give him space. The party won’t be fun for anyone if it’s stressful to your pet.
Do introduce guest dogs to each other safely
While a romp in the yard with three or four dog friends may be his idea of the ultimate party, do make sure you get the safe intros out of the way before you unleash the hounds.
[To learn more about facilitating a safe doggie playdate, read why playtime’s essential for dogs.]
Other tips for a fun pet birthday celebration
Whether you have a party featuring a few fellow dog friends, or choose to make a special day for your pet, here are some ideas:
Create a treat hunt
Hide biscuits around the yard for your dog to track down and enjoy. Add to the challenge and leave the treats inside an empty tissue paper roll or a treat puzzle. (Note: Do this only if there are no other doggie guests. Some dogs have a tendency to growl and guard resources, which can create conflicts even between the best of canine friends. In fact, that is why so many dog day care centers don’t use treats at all.)
Backyard pool party
Many dogs enjoy the water, so get out the sprinklers or kiddie pool, and let them romp and splash. Add some balls and toys and let the rumpus begin.
A homemade agility course is a great way to help your dog get exercise at home, and the training that goes into it strengthens the bond between dogs and humans. If canine guests are already familiar, this can be a great party activity.
Make it fun for the human guests
Since you’re celebrating life with dogs, lean in to the dog theme, especially when serving food and creating party favors that will make humans smile. (May we suggest chili dogs and “paw-tato” chips?)
A fun outing
If a birthday party isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other options. Is there a park, swimming hole or hiking path where you and your dog enjoy spending time together? If you’ve had a great day there in the past, then a return for a birthday outing is a natural choice.
Sure, a birthday party for a dog may sound silly to some. But even if your best friend can’t technically comprehend what a birthday is and why you would make a fuss about it, building a celebration around the things he enjoys most will certainly make his day (and yours as well). And having fun and celebrating your lives together is the main thing that matters, right?
Here’s to many happy years with your dog! Health begins with a healthy gut, which is why at NutriSource, we formulate all our foods with our innovative Good 4 Life® system. The probiotics and prebiotics facilitate mineral absorption and support production of natural antibiotics and antifungals in the gut. For a long and healthy life, find NutriSource at your local, independent pet retailer.