Celebrating DOGust 1st with your shelter pet

dog birthday party

If you adopted your pup from Animal Humane Society, you probably don’t know your furry friend’s actual birthday. That's why August 1st is also known as DOGust 1st: the universal shelter pet birthday!

While some pet parents may choose to celebrate their dog’s birthday on their “Gotcha Day”, the day they were adopted, why not celebrate them twice a year?

We've put together a few helpful tips to throw your shelter dog and their friends a fun, safe celebration in their honor. 

1. Decide on the venue for your dog’s birthday party  

Some Twin Cities doggie day care facilities will host your dog’s big day, if they are already doggie day care clients. This option also comes with a fee, but often times the day care will plan the event for you right down to the goodie bags for guests. Plus, this way you don’t have to clean up afterwards.  

If you’re having the birthday bash at home, think about your space. A fenced in area is a good idea, or renting a yard to play in so the people guests can keep better track of the four-legged guests. This also allows for safe off leash interactions.  

Looking for a more low-key birthday celebration?

If a more relaxed celebration suits your dog, you can always celebrate DOGust 1st by donating to AHS or buying a birthday present for shelter dogs still waiting for a family of their own from one of our AHS wish lists.  

2. Plan the activities!  

Brain games make for a great party activity! 

One fun idea is a sniffy trail or scavenger hunt. For this game, you can lay out a treat trail (something stinky like cheese or hot dogs), marked with cones if you want to, and walk a dog one at a time to follow the trail to get a prize. Reload the treat trail and prize at the end, then let the next dog go.  

This could also be a fun way to give each dog their doggy bags of party favors. Save the doggy goodie bags until the end, though, so there’s no fighting over treats and toys.  

Other fun activity ideas include: 

  • Pools or sprinklers 
  • Tunnels 
  • Digging for toys in a sandbox 
  • Ball pits (make sure to encourage sharing and no guarding over the treats dropped into it)  

Activities should be kept short and sweet to keep the energy happy and relaxed. Be sure to take breaks between the activities to keep arousal lower, and make sure to take turns. 

Signs the fun has gone on a little too long include escalating behavior, lots of grabbing and inappropriate play, body slamming, hogging activities, and/or getting snarky with their friends. 

3. Confirm your guest list 

Dog in party collar

No matter where you have the party, you’ll want to keep the pet guest list to a minimum. Doggy daycares usually limit this to two additional dogs beside the birthday boy or girl.  

Even at home, only invite dogs who have good, solid relationships with your dog. You’ll also want to keep in mind if their playstyles match well.  

If your dog has only one other bestie, that's ok! Invite them and their people over for a buddy-buddy day because dogs do better in a one-on-one environment anyway.  

4. Dress your dog to impress 

Avoid dressing your dog in party hats, skirts, dresses, or capes if they show any signs of  being uncomfortable. 

A fun alternative is bandanas and bowties, but make sure no one is scratching at them, shaking their head, trying to bite it, or snapping at others coming close to them. If that’s the case, remove all the bandanas or bowties so every dog is comfortable.  

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