Everyone loves a good party, and many pet lovers would like to think their furbabies are no exception. It’s highly likely you know a dog parent who enjoys nothing more than taking their precious pooch to a pet-friendly event or gathering. Some will even go the whole nine yards and dress them up for special occasions, trotting out the personalized party hats or the customizable branded dog bowties that will make their dog the darling of social media feeds everywhere.
Organizing a safe and enjoyable shindig for these pups to strut their stuff at, however, doesn’t come without its challenges. You are, after all, welcoming a second set of guests with their own unique needs and concerns. If you find yourself unsure about where to begin or what to do first, never fear. This list of helpful tips will get you well on your way to organizing the perfect pet-friendly event.
Choose an Appropriate Venue
Before anything else, you’ll want to choose the right venue for your event. Consider: would you like to hold it indoors or outdoors? What will the weather be like around your event date, and what will you need to keep the pets in attendance safe and comfortable on the day itself? Will you need to set up additional shaded areas, for instance, to protect guests from heatstroke?
Once you’ve settled on the kind of venue you need, draw up a shortlist of possible places and ask them directly if they allow pets on their property. Be sure to clarify if they impose any extra fees for bringing pets onto the premises so you won’t be caught off-guard by surprise charges later.
Provide the Necessary Amenities
Making sure your four-legged guests are well looked after when they arrive at the venue involves more than just setting out a few water bowls, though that’s always a good place to start. A useful rule of thumb to follow is to put out one large bowl for every three medium-sized dogs in attendance. Make sure these bowls are well-distributed around your venue and have dedicated staff ready to top them up with cool, clean water throughout the day.
Many pet owners can be relied upon to bring their own treats and poop bags, but it’s always good to have your own stock of necessities on-hand for those who forget. Clearly designate specific areas for food and potty breaks. Trash bins should also be set in accessible places around the venue to allow owners to dispose of used poop bags properly.
Set Clear Ground Rules
Communicating your expectations clearly to your attendees is one of the surest ways to ensure good behavior from your pet guests and their owners alike. To draw up a good list of ground rules for your event, you’ll have to consider and make decisions on a number of important health and safety concerns ahead of time. Some of these concerns may include the following:
- Are you going to require all pets to be kept on a leash throughout the events?
- If you’ll be allowing pets to be taken off-leash, will this be applicable anywhere in the venue, or limited to certain areas only?
- Will you allow the use of extendable leashes? If so, be mindful that these can be a trip hazard, so consider reminding your guests to watch where they walk.
- What amenities (e.g. dog food and treats, poop bags, water) are you making available? Will you be giving these away for free, or do they have to be purchased? Where and how can your guests access them?
Once you’ve laid down your ground rules, communicate them to your attendees at least a few weeks before the event. You can do this by email or by posting on your event’s website or social media pages.
Prioritize Pet Health and Safety
Trying to see your event from a pet’s perspective will do a lot to help you make the necessary provisions for their health and safety. Dogs, for instance, have very keen senses of hearing, so it’s best to modulate the volume of loudspeaker announcements, background music, and the like with dogs in mind. Fireworks, flashing lights, and other similar displays can also be disorienting and frightening to animals, so it’s probably for the best to keep these out of your event if you’d like to keep things pet-friendly.
Likewise, do serve food that’s safe for both humans and pets to eat, as you never know when a playful pup might try to reach for their owner’s food or steal a morsel off a plate when their owner isn’t looking. Tell your caterer to avoid serving chocolate-based desserts as chocolate is known to be poisonous to dogs. Bones can also splinter and break down into small pieces when chewed, causing dogs to choke and suffocate. Instruct your guests to throw any bones from their meals away rather than giving them to their pets as a treat, or better yet, keep your meat-based dishes boneless just to be safe.
Planning an event that’s conducive for pets will require you to consider their needs just as carefully as you would consider the needs of their two-legged companions. Going the extra mile to make sure the pets at your event are safe, comfortable, and well provided for will surely help everyone in attendance have the best possible time—the hardworking organizers included.