By Emily Gantt
Published: 11/28/2022, edited: 12/06/2022
It's the holiday season, and that means that it's time to "paw-ty"! This time of year is all about gathering with loved ones — and hosting a Christmas party is the best way to get everyone together!
But would it really be a Christmas party without your right-hand pup? Whether your dog isn't one for crowds or you're just a little nervous about your dog "mingling" with your guests, these tips are perfect for you. We'll go over how to throw a stress-free holiday party with pets, share safety tips and game ideas, and even give you some ideas for pet holiday party themes!
Making sure your holiday party goes off without a hitch requires a lot of planning and due diligence. Here are some simple tips to ensure your "paw-ty" is stress-free for your human guests and their canines!
If your friends are major pet lovers, it's a no-brainer to ask them to bring their babies along for the holiday festivities — but sometimes, dogs can feel left out in the excitement. Here are a few simple pet-friendly holiday party ideas to help pets feel included.
Rather than just inviting your fellow humans, ask guests to bring their woofers along for the fun! You get to have a festive holiday affair, and your pup will also get to make memories of their own!
Dogs can be quite good at tearing off wrapping paper, and it is also pretty doggone funny to watch. Let them rip it off and hand them another! Don't let your dog ingest the paper, though, especially if it's made from toxic materials.
Party favors are a must, especially during the holidays. After all, you want your guests to leave the event with a little something to remember you by. Red-and-white striped rawhide is the perfect thing. Of course, you can hand out real candy canes to your human guests too!
If you really want to impress, make some homemade treats for your four-legged guests. Just be sure to make the dog treats bone-shaped so your guests know they aren't human cookies!
Are you drawing a blank trying to think up a pet-friendly holiday theme for this year's party? Look no further! Any one of these is sure to impress!
This pet holiday party idea is sure to be a hit —after all, what bright-eyed Beagle wouldn't jump at the chance to eat cookies with Kris Kringle?
Have one of your guests dress up as Santa to pose with the guests, and make sure you have a camera ready for those "furrific" photo ops! You can even go one step further and make homemade cookies and dog biscuits for a full-on cookies with Santa experience. This theme is sure to get your "fur-iends" in the Christmas spirit!
Take your holiday party to the next level with a festive winter photoshoot! Make your sets as elaborate or minimal as you want, but make sure you have some props to get your guests in the holiday spirit. Santa hats, reindeer antlers, elf ears, scarves, ugly sweaters, and toboggans are just a few props you can use to add some Christmas spice to your shots!
There’s something so nostalgic about decorating Christmas cookies on a cold winter night — but what if you put a pet-friendly spin on this decades-old tradition? Throw some dog biscuits in the oven with the sugar cookies and set out some piping bags of dog-friendly icing (or peanut butter!) for the pet parents to use.
A white elephant party (sometimes called a "dirty Santa party") is a gift exchange game where everyone brings a silly, gag, or useless gift, and the receiver can either choose to keep their gift or exchange it for another guest's. This goes on until the game is called and guests are left with the gift in hand (or in paw).
With the amount of useless and downright silly pet products on the market, it only makes sense that you'd swap your usual gift-giving tradition for something quirkier. Plus, it's cost-effective since everyone only has to buy one present!
Here are some tips to ensure your pet-friendly parties are smooth (and safe!) sailing:
Like people, dogs have boundaries. Some dogs dislike being kissed or have their face touched or may be fearful of loud noises. Crossing these boundaries can cause dogs to become stressed or even reactive. It's your job to inform your guests of your dog's boundaries and quirks and teach them how to interact with your fur-baby.
Raiding the trash can is sure to cross your pet's mind during the holiday party. Even dogs with a lot of self-discipline may not be able to resist the urge to salvage some turkey bones or tasty Christmas pie. The problem is holiday menus often feature toxic ingredients to canines like chocolate, raisins, onions, garlic, and certain nuts. And not to mention the obstruction and choking risks that come with leftover bones. To keep your pet safe, invest in a locking trash can and make sure your guests use it!
Lively events like holiday parties can cause a dog's behavioral issues to be more pronounced. Loud noises and unfamiliar people can exacerbate problem behaviors like jumping up, barking, and nipping. Set your dog up for success by working on basic obedience skills in the weeks leading up to the party, and let their progress shine!
An easy way to prevent overstimulation and stress is to make sure your pup has had enough exercise and mental stimulation before the party. Take your dog for a run or a long walk, or enjoy a long game of fetch before the guests arrive. When party time comes, your dog will be too tired to cause trouble!
Create a "safe space" for woofers to retreat to if they start to get nervous. Set up your dog's favorite blanket and toys in a separate room or crate so they can go "hide" if they feel stressed. Let your guests know if your pooch starts to get overwhelmed, and ask them to give Fido some personal space as well.
A party is the "pawfect" time to refresh your dog's obedience skills and reinforce positive behavior. While you can choose to practice your pup's "sit" and "stay" skills, you can also passively reward positive behaviors as they come naturally.
If you see your dog just sitting nicely, toss them a treat! Fill your pockets with treats and give Fido one every now and then throughout the night to encourage them to keep up the good work.
While having festive Christmas decorations for your party is nice, remember that you don't want to chase after your dog all night when they steal your stuffed snowman for the tenth time!
Put your breakables up high or in a secure curio cabinet. Likewise, keep mistletoe, poisonous plants, and small knick-knacks away from pets.
Keeping your dog in mind when decorating will make your party experience much less stressful and safer for your woofer!
Here are 5 simple party etiquette tips to make sure your pet-friendly holiday party is a success:
Want to share some of your holiday grub with your canine guests? Here are a few things you can offer them off your plate:
Check out our related guide for a complete list of Christmas foods that are safe and toxic to dogs.
We hope this guide inspires you to throw a pet-friendly holiday party of
your own this year. And who knows? It might just blossom into a
beautiful tradition for your family! Remember to keep the good
decorations put up and make toxic foods and trash inaccessible to pets!
And don't forget the party favors for your furry guests!
If your pet gets into something you're unsure about this holiday season, use Wag! Vet Chat to get answers to your pet-related questions day or night!
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