How To Throw a Puppy Party – 11 Ideas For Socialising Puppies
Everyone knows puppies are a handful, socialising and proper training early in their lifetime is essential to make sure you end up with a well-behaved dog. A puppy party is great way, early on, to start socialising your new best friend and we have some great puppy party ideas below.
Some good some awful!
But a puppy party is a solid way to get your little pooches social skills heading in the right direction!
Read on to see 11 simple but great ideas to get your newest member of the family kick started on being a star pup.
Lets dive in:
Puppy parties are becoming increasingly popular not only for special occasions but also to help with socialisation and puppy training basics.
Here we look into why they are important, how to throw one and dive into a few different puppy party ideas that will make socialising puppies safe and fun.
A Puppy Party Is An Ideal Way For Your Dog To Socialise With Other Puppies
The Brain of a four-month-old puppy has increased up to 10 x larger than it was at birth and yet still retains the same number of cells, so what accounts for this huge increase in size?
Everything a puppy experiences in these first few weeks of life establishes connections between the brain cells.
He uses his senses to discover new smells, sounds, tastes and he learns what is safe and who is part of his family and social group. After sixteen weeks this window of learning begins to close.
Puppies that have not had socialisation and valuable learning experiences within this time either through poor breeding conditions or lack of stimulation by breeders in those vital first few weeks will always be playing catch-up or may suffer from behavioural problems in later life.
These can include separation anxiety, nervousness, phobias and aggression towards both other dogs and people.
Here's the deal:
It is so IMPORTANT to introduce your new puppy to different situations early in life.
Of course, you can attend puppy socialisation classes but one of the best ways for puppy socialisation is to attend a puppy parties so that your new furry friend has positive experiences of meeting both other puppies and humans.
Some vets and dog training classes throw puppy parties and typing "puppy parties near me" into google will show results in your local area. but these are usually after the dog has received its first immunisations. Puppy parties should ideally be for dogs that are between 3 and 12 weeks old.
A party brings to mind a large group, noise, food and activities, however, this should not be the case when initially teaching your pup how to socialise.
There have been reports recently that parties for really young puppies can do more harm than good.
Lack of discipline, too many attendees, lots of noise and puppies running around off the lead is not a sign of a good party. Yes, puppies need lots of positive new experiences but in a calm safe environment.
Here are some things to look for if you want to introduce your furry friend to some companions at organised Puppy Parties.
Puppy parties should be for puppies between the ages of 3 to 12 weeks old as this is the optimal time for dogs to learn to socialise.
Puppy training classes usually start after the first vaccination when significant time has already been lost in building their confidence around other dogs.
SIZE OF ROOM
This might not seem important but having 12 puppies crammed into a small vets waiting room is not ideal.
Puppies need space to come to terms with their surroundings in their own time feeling under pressure to interact with another pup right next to them can create a fearful response which can hinder the process.
For some puppies, this will be the first time they have left the safety of their mother or home it is bound to take time for them to overcome their nerves.
Young puppies are very vulnerable and although initially protected by their mother's immune system it must be remembered that these tiny tots have not had their vaccinations, therefore, it is essential to have a hygienic environment.
If attending puppy parties at a Veterinary Surgery, it should be disinfected before use. Check if you are attending at a village hall or dog day care centre that it hasn't been used for older dogs without a thorough clean with proper animal disinfectant.
If you suspect any of the other pups are sick leave immediately.
All puppies should be kept on lead initially not only does it give the owner more control but it helps with two aspects of the pup's behaviour.
Whenever we see puppies in a group off lead there will be the timid ones hiding or avoiding boisterous play and the over-confident yobbos charging around bullying the less assertive. Neither of these traits is to be encouraged.
The timid puppy can't escape from the uncontrolled chaser making the whole experience terrifying this fear is embedded during the most important part of their brain development creating problems later.
One might assume that the chaser is a confident little fellow who loves interacting with other dogs. However, he is probably just as nervous but learning that he feels safest when bullying and asserting control over other dogs which can cause immense problems in later life when this behaviour is accompanied by biting.
Sometimes a nervous or fearful puppy can be let off the lead for a time this gives him the confidence to explore his space without the feeling stressed once confidence is achieved the lead can be returned.
Play is also important for a puppy and after a time, off lead activities can take place with supervision to make sure things don't get out of hand.
If you walk into a cacophony of sound when arriving at the party leave! It will not be a good experience for you or your puppy. Well-run puppy parties should be a calm atmosphere and reasonably quiet. Of course, dogs bark when excited but if this is the case you should witness the owner, instructor or person in charge taking steps to settle the pup.
A socialisation Puppy Party should be a calm and pleasant experience for both puppy and owner where your pup can meet others both canine and human in a safe environment It should encourage puppies to relax and engage with their owner despite the presence of other dogs and build a good foundation for further training classes.
Socialisation with People
It is vital for a puppy to experience as many situations as possible in those first few months so, not only is it important for your new puppy to socialise with others of its own kind it is essential for it to get used to your family and friends too if you want a people-friendly dog.
This can be especially useful for single and older people who live on their own and where the puppy doesn't meet many strangers. The lack of interaction with other humans can make the dog become excessively protective and fearful of meeting new people as it grows older.
Puppy parties for kids can be a great way for your pup to get used to children too.
Puppies and kids have high energy levels but an un-socialised puppy can get into trouble later in life when a young child's antics can encourage over-excitement leading a pup to jump up, give chase or even nip. which can be a problem if you have family or regular visitors who have little ones.
Invite one or two children showing them how to interact with the puppy in a calm and relaxed manner.
Encourage them to reward the puppy with treats while getting them to sit or lie down not only is this getting the pup used to kids but also helping with basic training.
Mix up the guest list invite a variety of people young old male and female lots of dogs are warier of men than women especially if living in a home where there are no males present so it is important for them to be comfortable with all sexes and age groups.
The start of the party should be calm so the puppy feels no pressure once he has gained confidence you can slowly introduce him to balloons, streamers and music rewarding with treats to ensure a positive experience.
While it is important for the puppy to interact with your guests and feel comfortable in a lively atmosphere always make sure the pup has a safe place to retreat too if he gets tired or has had enough handling. The more people your pup meets early on in life the more comfortable he will be around strangers as an adult.
11 Ideas for Socialising your Pup
Puppy training classes
These start once your puppy has been vaccinated and are a great way to socialise your new pup as well as teaching them to be good-mannered and well trained. If you don't want to pay for training classes the internet is awash with puppy training ideas and YouTube in particular has some awesome tips for training puppies. Start here
Visit Friends with Dogs
If you have friends with well-behaved dogs, try to visit on a regular basis so your pup can experience meeting new friends in unfamiliar surroundings
Puppies should not only learn how to get on with other dogs but all animals so try and visit friends who have cats, take a walk in the countryside, introducing them to horses, ducks, cows etc. This can save problems later on stopping them chasing livestock.
Your puppy should have lots of different experiences during their first few months and travelling with them on public transport is a great way to get them used to crowds. Take it slow, don't just arrive at a busy railway station, build up slowly so they don't become overwhelmed.
Group Dog Walks
There are hundreds of groups on social media that arrange local dog walks and get-togethers. This is a great way for both you and your pooch to make new friends
Volunteer at a Rescue
Helping out at a rescue centre or becoming involved in a dog charity gives your pup the chance to socialise while you are helping other canines.
There are hundreds of dog shows across the UK every year, along with the Crufts type competitions there are Fun Days, Charities, Fetes, all opportunities to meet like-minded dog lovers and different puppies. Also, the stalls are perfect for the shopaholic dog owner.
With so many pet-friendly hotels, self-catering accommodation, pubs and holiday parks it is no longer necessary to leave your faithful friend behind when you go on holiday take them with you and let them join in the fun
Some dogs are more suited to this than others but the training can begin while they are still very young. Spending time with animals is incredibly beneficial both physically and mentally. More dogs than ever are being used in Schools, Hospitals and Residential Homes
Fantastic fun and great for dogs of all sizes, there are local classes in most areas where you can meet other pups. Keeping active and socialising at the same time you could join a Flyball class or for example, if you have a Siberian husky consider joining a sledding group
Organise a Take your Dog to Work Day
National TYDTWD is an annual event which raises money for dog charities. If you work in a small office or somewhere bringing your dog to work is feasible organise a day weekly or monthly similar to dress down Friday where employees can bring their dog to work for a small fee which you can donate to a local rescue.
A properly socialised puppy is a pleasure getting it right from the outset will ensure a well-mannered, relaxed adult dog that you can take anywhere.
Your Pups Party - Celebration
More and more people nowadays and quite rightly so, are treating their dogs like a member of their family it is therefore only natural that we celebrate with them.
Puppy party theme ideas are becoming increasingly popular for birthdays, Christmas, Halloween even Dog weddings. and after all what could be more fun for your dog than inviting all his pals from the dog park or neighbourhood for a good old paws up.
The best place for Puppy Parties is your own garden there will be no worries about the odd accident and your pup will be happier in familiar surroundings. These days there are many dog walking groups, local breed specific groups and doggy day-care centres that also offer facilities for doggy celebrations.
If you are lucky to have a park nearby this can also be a great location for your puppy to have fun with his friends. take a picnic and have some Frisbee fun in the sun.
Who To Invite
This is not the time to introduce your canine friend to new dogs so stick to ones he is familiar with and likes. Members of the family or neighbours whose pooches he knows and plays with.
A growing number of people have a dog walker or send their pups to day-care where they maybe have some special friends or perhaps from training or agility classes.
Perhaps you have kept in touch with the owners of their parent or litter-mates? Social Media has brought together dog lovers and there are numerous local and community groups that have regular walks and get-togethers perhaps this is an option too.
Be aware of how many dogs you can handle in whatever space you have and remember their owners will be there too so take into account how many children will be around and if you get along with your pup's doggy pals human parents.
Food and Drink
Having a plentiful water supply for the pups is essential. Make sure there are enough bowls to avoid squabbles and refill regularly especially if the weather is hot.
You'll want to provide snacks for the furry guests as well as your family and friends and there are so many dog bakeries offering dog-friendly birthday cakes and treats out there you will be spoilt for choice. For more puppy birthday party ideas try here
If you want to save some money and have the time, there are lots of recipes for puppy party cakes and healthy snacks online to choose from and you can even buy bone shaped tins and paw shaped cookie cutters.
If the weather is hot it is a good idea to prepare some frozen treats. Keep everything bite-sized it prevents the greedy ones trying to steal another guest's treat and fights breaking out.
- 1-2 Left-over cooked burgers
- 2-3 Tbsp Grated Cheese
- Low salt chicken or beef broth
Place the crumbled burger into a small muffin tray or ice-cube tray, with the cheese add the cooled broth and freeze
Peanut Butter Pops
- Large tub natural yoghurt
- 2 Tbsp peanut butter
- Small pieces of fruit- Bananas, Strawberries
- Rawhide sticks
Mix all the ingredients together and pour into ice lolly moulds, place a rawhide stick in each and freeze.
One thing to remember though keep the human food and doggy feast separate you don't want a pup accidently eating chocolate or next door's toddler tucking into the pilchard, liver and bacon dog biscuits.
Dogs and puppies love to play so entertainment is important at any party for canines. If you are providing toys make sure there are enough to go around, nothing spoils a party faster than quarrelling canines.
Safety is also important, take into account what dogs you are inviting what may seem like a perfect toy for your Chihuahua is perhaps not so much for the Neighbourhood Great Dane.
All dogs love balls so a paddling pool or sandpit filled with tennis balls can be great fun as can one filled with water make sure you place it out of the way though or you and your guests will end up getting wet.
Great party ideas and games to play include:
Musical Chairs - A variation on the classic when the music stops the dog's owner gets them to sit, last one to obey is out!
Digging For Treasure - Dogs love to dig if you have an area suitable get them digging for treats they'll love it
Snoopy Says - Owners must get their pooches to do whatever Snoopy says with the commands getting trickier as the game progresses the last pup remaining is the winner
It is also fun to have some competitions, perhaps buy some cheap agility equipment and build an obstacle course, have a mini dog Olympics or organise a treasure hunt with Kongs placed around the garden for the canine guests to sniff out.
It is a not essential but can be great fun to give your puppy parties a theme. You can get thousands of ideas for puppy party themes on www.pinterest.com and there are loads of companies online selling puppy party supplies, decorations, invitations and accessories including fancy dress.
Many people dress up their pooches and doggy fashion has become a massive industry with Burberry, Gucci and Ralph Lauren cashing in even Paris Hilton has her own designer dog clothes range "Little Lily"
Not all dogs like dressing up so don't force the issue. However, some pups adore showing off their latest duds and a Pups Party is the perfect occasion to push the boat out and dress-up for the occasion.
There are also some safety issues to consider to make sure your party goes without a hitch
The likelihood is that if you having an outdoor party it will be during the summer months. Therefore, it is essential to ensure your four-legged guests don't get overheated make sure there are plenty of shaded areas and a constant supply of water.
It is a good idea to ensure everyone brings a leash so if things do become a little chaotic. there is the opportunity to calm down. Ask everyone to clip a lead on though as if some pups are on lead and some not it can cause tension.
Make sure your venue is Dog proof. Check the fence for holes and possible escape routes. make sure all gardening tools are put away, check there are no poisonous plants and remember puppies especially eat everything so keep all plastic cutlery, decorations etc.
If you are feeding are also feeding the human guests, keep all alcohol and things that could be dangerous to dogs out of reach and do regular sweep-ups to avoid possible choking hazards.
Check all the dogs you invite are up-to-date with immunisations and flea treatment. Dog diseases are very contagious and the last thing you want for your guests is to become unwell.
It is also a good idea to keep the ingredients of any food you are supplying simple and not too exotic to prevent upset tummies. Make sure you provide an ample supply of poop bags and or scoops for owners to clear up after their pup and keep an eye out for any unwanted presents.
Even when dogs are the best of friends, squabbles are inevitable. It usually doesn't develop into much and is not a major issue. Ensuring enough toys and treats to go around avoids any sharing issues.
A good idea is to have a hose pipe connected in case anything turns serious and if you have lots of big strong dogs attending make sure there are strong enough guests to keep them under control.
How to socialise an aggressive dog?
It can be difficult if you have an aggressive dog but it is still possible to socialise them to varying degrees. The thing to remember is tired dogs are usually more well behaved so make sure your pooch is getting plenty of exercise before introducing him to any new activity.
Try taking him on walks with other dogs at a safe distance and use plenty of positive re-enforcement until he gets used to the situation. If he is aggressive with people it might be worth using a muzzle, get him to sit when someone is in the room armed with treats. Let him approach them in his own time.
How to socialise an older dog?
It can be difficult to socialise an older dog but it is possible. Start by de-sensitizing your dog to situations at a distance where he feels comfortable.
Group dog walks are a great way of getting your four-legged friend used to other dogs as long as they are all kept on a leash and far enough away there is no danger of fights breaking out.
Introduce your pet to one new situation a week and take it at his own pace using rewards and positive re-enforcement for calm relaxed behaviour.
Why is dog socialisation important?
Socialisation is extremely important because the experiences a puppy has when it is young make a difference to how he behaves when he is older. Letting your puppy experience as many new situations as possible from a young age will ensure a confident, well-mannered adult dog that you can take anywhere.
What happens if you don't socialise?
Dogs that haven't had socialisation will be nervous and fearful of new experiences which can result in stress, fearfulness and aggression. Behavioural problems stemming from non-socialisation are a common reason for dogs needing to be rehomed.
Socialising a shy/fearful dog?
This takes patience and it is important to build your dog's confidence with basic training first. For example, if your pooch is uncomfortable around people, gage the distance when the dog becomes stressed and have a friend stand just outside that distance.
Make your dog sit and reward with treats. Slowly let the person approach a foot at a time (not in the same session) and keep rewarding your dog as they get closer. If he starts to become fearful make them retreat.
This can also work with other dogs but it is important to understand your dog's body language and not overwhelm them. Take it slow and you will see results.
When does socialisation begin?
Socialisation begins from as soon as you bring your new puppy home. Remember everything is new so let the puppy discover things in their own time and do not push them so they overwhelmed a bad experience is worse than none at all.
Let them meet people of all colours, children, people wearing hats, the postman, elderly people, introduce them to noises like the vacuum cleaner, hairdryer, washing machine, get them used to being handled, groomed ears checked etc and reward them for calm relaxed behaviour.
Socialising puppies before vaccinations?
The earlier you begin socialisation for your puppy the better, however, it is important that before they have received their vaccinations they do not mix with strange puppies and dogs. That doesn't mean that you can't take them with you and introduce them to new situations you just have to carry them.
There are CDs you can purchase that play noises like fireworks and storms to get your pup used to these sounds and prevent noise phobias in later life and you can visit or invite friends who have fully vaccinated and healthy dogs to be introduced to your new puppy.
Many vets run puppy parties from the time of the first vaccination but always check them out first as vet surgeries are a prime place to pick up infections if not correctly cleaned.