Your pup is a year old? Celebrate! It’s pup -- er, party -- time. Invite a few canine friends -- two or three if she is shy, and no more than five for a first party. Dog-proof the house, stock up on treats and kibble, then let the games begin.
Hide and Treat
Set up three identical buckets. Keep the dogs on leashes and sitting by their owners. Let them watch while you put a small treat under one bucket. Lead your birthday girl toward the buckets and say, “Find the cookie!” Let her sniff around until she focuses on the treat bucket. Lift the bucket and let her have the treat. Hide the treat again and let the next dog “find the cookie” for the reward. If the guests, like your birthday girl, are young dogs, it takes a few tries to match nose to treat. For a more challenging game, face dogs and owners away from the bucket and repeat the treat search.
Clear the floor. Get out rubber cones, cubes, balls and puzzles -- anything that is hollow and will roll, wobble or teeter across the room leaving a kibble trail in its wake. Use two or three kibbles in different flavors and shapes. Scatter the kibble toys and let the dogs loose. The birthday girl, already familiar with her favorite kibble toy, has an edge, so invite your party pals to bring different kibble balls. One or two dogs will likely get the idea and enthusiastically roll or swat the toys. Don’t worry, they can’t hog the goodies. Shy dogs pick up kibble by browsing the treat trail.
This outdoor game means wet dogs and soaked towels. Fill one or two kiddie pools with water. Toss in tennis balls or floating toys and let the dogs go. As soon as a dog has a toy, the owner calls the dog to “bring the ball” so that the dog leaves the pool and brings the object to his owner. On a warm day, young dogs such as your party girl are so excited, they often start to get out of the pool, then flop down and roll or splash, forgetting the fetch. Winner is the first dog to get out of the pool and reach her owner with the toy. Give that dog a big fluffy towel rub and a special treat.
Invite owners and dogs who are part of your dog’s social life. Have a safe zone, an area where a stressed dog can take a time-out behind a dog gate with water and a blanket. For the party crowd, have plenty of water, outdoor potty spots and poop bags. Some dogs have allergies, so ask ahead of time about special treats or kibble diets. Give the dogs roaming time without games, a chance to be outside or in a room just hanging out. And give your birthday pup extra attention -- it’s her party!
Phyllis Benson is a professional writer and creative artist. Her 25-year background includes work as an editor, syndicated reporter and feature writer for publications including "Journal Plus," "McClatchy Newspapers" and "Sacramento Union." Benson earned her Bachelor of Science degree at California Polytechnic University.