For our first dog, Rocky, we went all out for his early birthdays. There was cake, toys, several of his friends and a plethora of treats. But then Lyla came around and second child syndrome kind of set in. Sure, we spoil her on her birthdays–it’s a must in our household that everybody gets a special treat on their big day–however, Lyla has never had a party of her own.
This year, I decided to change that and throw Lyla an all-out bash at a dog-friendly facility. There’s a lot that goes into planning the perfect dog birthday party, from finding a venue to giving out dog-friendly goodie bags and keeping everyone safe. Here’s what I learned along the way:
Find the Perfect Venue
The first item on the checklist of putting together a party for your pup is to find the right location. My immediate thought was to invite a bunch of Lyla’s friends to our neighborhood dog park, but then I thought about the logistics of bringing a cake into the mix and was hit with visions of getting mobbed by all the rest of the dogs in the park.
I wanted a place where we could just have the party open to Lyla’s guests and where the dogs could roam freely off leash. After a lot of researching and asking around, I stumbled upon the perfect place, Mr. Speck’s Playhouse, a pet boarding, grooming and doggie daycare in West Hollywood, California. The location has two floors and the owners let us reserve the top floor indoor doggie playground.
Invite Your Four-Legged Guests
Once we had the location down, it was time to decide on the guests. I made a list of all of the dogs that Lyla has played with and has gotten along well with over the years. Since Rocky would be coming as well, I made sure that the friends were also a good fit for him.
Mr. Speck’s asked that every dog that attended be up to date with their vaccinations so I made sure that each party guest was able to bring the appropriate paperwork from their vet.
Choose Your Party Favors and Treats
This was the fun part! I went to Party City and picked up some birthday hats, plates that said “Do I smell cake?” and some paw print napkins. Then I went to Three Dog Bakery and ordered a large bone-shaped birthday cake for Lyla. The ingredients are all natural and the cake was peanut butter flavored, her absolute favorite.
You can’t send a party guest home without a doggie bag, so I put together a special gift for each of Lyla’s party guests:
- A package of artisanal dog treats
- Several take-home samplers of high-end dog food
- A packet of pet wipes
- Peanut-butter-flavored Pur Love Bones treats
Commemorate the Day
It’s not often you get to see your four-year-old Doberman frolicking around in a tutu and having the time of her life with her friends, so I made sure to have my camera ready, and I even got my photographer friend, Dustin Downing, to graciously snap a few. After the party, I sent the pics to all the attendees and they were all so grateful.
Set Ground Rules
We arrived early to get everything set up. Once on site, we were given a rundown of all the rules and regulations of the play area:
- The doors to the outside were to remain locked at all times to prevent dogs from escaping from the building.
Dogs were to enter the play area one at a time and not on leash to prevent any sort of leash aggression.
- Owners had to accompany their dogs inside the play area and keep an eye on them at all times. They had to carry their leashes on them and if any problems arose, they were told to leash their pup and quietly remove it from the play area.
- We were given poop bags to scoop up any dog droppings and a bucket to mop up pee.
As part of their service, Mr. Specks gave us the use of a doggie referee to help us police the playground area. While everyone kept a watchful eye on his or her own dogs, it was still very helpful to have a roaming volunteer keeping tabs on the overall situation.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun
During the party, the guests arrived and entered the play area one by one. Lyla was inside with a smile on her face and her tutu on her tush ready to greet them. The dogs played and romped and wrestled until they all passed out happily on the floor. Then we brought out the birthday cake. We made sure the dogs all had enough space between them to enjoy their own slice, while Lyla inhaled hers. (Rocky ate her crumbs and then two of his own pieces).
Lyla opened her presents, which a few of the party guests were so nice to bring for her. She got a few toys to play with in the pool and a plush fox toy. Then, I passed out goodie bags and treats as they left the party one by one.
The result? Lyla’s birthday party was a resounding success. The dogs got stimulation, the humans got to mingle and everyone went home with several weeks’ worth of treats for their four-legged friends. Rocky and Lyla are still sleeping off the food and excitement.
Images via Dustin Downing; Nicole Pajer; Greg Pajer