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Pickles was quite the diva for her first birthday party. She had a leopard-print theme with splashes of pink. Everything matched — the cake, the tablecloth, even her party dress.
But this was a little different from your average 1-year-old’s party. The birthday girl was a Bulldog.
Kristina Robertson, president of Barkley Square Pets in Alexandria, Virginia, planned the custom celebration. Robertson and others who offer birthday parties for dogs have seen an increase in business lately — in the number of parties and the extravagance of them.
If you’re on a budget, you can go with Barkley Square's Birthday Bash in a Box, which ranges from $75 for five dogs to $125 for 15 dogs, and includes a dog birthday cake; party favor bags; popsicles on rawhide sticks; a hat for the birthday dog and wrapped, birthday-themed toys.
Though she’s offered birthday options since 2003, Robertson said she’s really started embellishing her parties in the last year — offering different themes, toys and cakes.
“The demand has changed since the beginning,” she says. “It was just the cake, then, ‘Can you host it?’ We’ve done some high-end ones where someone spent up to $5,000.”
If you’re planning a posh party for your pooch, here are some tips from the experts we talked with.1. Choose a theme based on your birthday dog’s personality. Popular with some of the planners we talked to were sports, superheroes, divas and princesses.
2. Pick the right guests.Just like with kids, you want to invite dogs you know your dog plays well with.
3. Check on your canine guests' dietary needs. Nothing shuts down the party like a sick pup, Robertson warns. Make sure the owners of the other dogs know what foods will be served at the party.
4. Plan activities for the dogs. During Robertson’s two-hour parties, the planners and pet owners usually play games with the dogs, like Red Rover or musical chairs. “The dog has to sit on the chair — not the human,” she says. “When the music stops, they have to get [the dogs] on the chairs without picking them up. It’s quite comical!”
5. Don’t forget about the humans. Robertson says she focuses all of her attention on the canines, but her clients often match what she’s doing for the dog owners. She once held a Hawaiian-themed party with virgin piña coladas for the pups while the host provided the real thing for the pet owners.
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