It’s Paw-ty Time

How to throw a birthday bash for your dog

Labrador retriever dog with a birthday cake and a party hat

When it comes to planning parties, you’re probably an old pro. You’ve nailed the kids’ fetes, milestone celebrations and more, but have you ever thrown a party for your beloved pooch? There are several good reasons to host a bonanza specifically for four-legged friends:

  1. Socializing is always important for your pup’s growth and personality.
  2. They don’t get as many birthdays; one year of their life is equal to seven human years.
  3. They’re family, doggone it!

Convinced? Consider this your puppy party planner guide. In it, you’ll find tips and tricks—and lots of local resources—to host a successful shindig.

Sniff out the right location first
If you have a large backyard, you might consider hosting at home. Do you have space to designate a “relief” area for furry friends that’s away from kids’ play sets and the food tables? Does your yard have plenty of shade? Or the neighborhood dog park might work. Do your research. There are 18 off-leash parks in San Diego; check out to search a listing of these parks with photos and ratings. Then go see them in person. Scope them out at different times of day to see when they’re least crowded (so you don’t get mobbed by all the other dogs in the park when it’s cake time) and if there are sufficient areas for human guests to sit.

You can also host a party at a venue other than your home. Camp Run-A-Mutt in Kearny Mesa ( lets you host pup parties on Sundays in their small-dog yard from 1-4 p.m. for $250 for up to 25 guests (that’s 25 humans and 25 dogs), which includes folding tables and chairs and a separate area to stage people food. Call at least three weeks in advance to claim the space (858-565-2267).

North County pet parents can enlist the help of Muttropolis (, 858-755-3647) in Solana Beach to help you throw Fido an unforgettable celebration for free (though a donation to a rescue group or shelter is strongly encouraged). Invite up to 15 dogs—and their families—to a two-hour, off-leash party in the courtyard in front of the store complete with a pup cake for the birthday boy or girl (additional pup cakes can be purchased for other furry attendees) and a table where you can put out treats and drinks for your guests.

Invite four-legged friends
Make a list of all your pup’s playmates. Include dog-owning neighbors you see out on your morning walks too. If kids will be attending, make sure the invitees are a good fit for them as well (read: don’t invite pooches that don’t play well with children). It’s also a good idea to ensure that all attendees be up-to-date on their vaccinations. Then send out customized online invitations through Evite ( or Paperless Post (

Let them eat cake
Paw Pleasers ( in North Park personalizes fresh-baked, grain-free cakes with your mongrel’s mug (or not) and also offers homemade doggy ice cream. And Dexter’s Deli (, which has locations in Carlsbad, Del Mar and North Park, offers locally made pup cakes, a carrot and molasses confection—void of white flour and added sugar—covered in a low-sugar white, pink or peanut butter buttercream frosting. Have something for the humans to nibble on too, and serve everyone on pooch-themed plates. Party City ( makes a “Chow Time” and “Do I Smell Cake” dog series of paper goods. Or shop Etsy ( for lots of plate and party hat options for pups.

Play time
Set up an agility course; dogs love them. Provide plenty of chew toys and balls. And fill a piñata with dog treats for fun for all. Clear out the dogs and let blindfolded humans take a whack at it. When it explodes, release the hounds. 

Send them home with doggy bags
Buy each guest a dog bowl from Dollar Tree ( Paint or write each pup’s name on it and fill it with goodies such as artisanal dog treats, samples of high-end dog food, pet wipes and a chew toy. At the end of the day, a birthday party for your dog is really a celebration of the bond you share. So relax, enjoy their excitement and have a happy birthday!

Categories: Lifestyles