Congratulations, you’re a proud new pet parent! Your new arrival is a happy, healthy little bundle of joy with four legs and a tail. It’s time for a puppy shower!
Throwing a puppy party is a fun opportunity for people to get together and celebrate a new addition to your family. They are especially handy when the guests are also experienced pet owners who can share tips and funny stories to help pet parents ease into their new pet-centric lives. Here are some puppy shower party ideas to help welcome your new furry family member.
Puppy party guest list
It’s important to know that puppies typically don’t receive all their vaccinations right away. Instead, pups receive an initial round of vaccines followed by a series of booster shots from a veterinarian over the course of several weeks. Because of this, their young immune systems are not prepared to encounter other dogs of any age — doing so could seriously jeopardize your puppy’s health. (This is the same reason puppies shouldn’t enter pet-friendly stores, visit dog parks or stay at doggy daycares until they’re fully vaccinated.) Therefore, if the new pup hasn’t received all his or her vaccinations, your puppy shower should be for people only.
However, if your new puppy or dog is fully vaccinated, this might be a good opportunity to introduce your new pup to a small group of friends and socialize your pet with your friends’ well-behaved dogs. Here are some tips:
Limit the number of guests to a manageable amount and restrict the invited dog guests to those you know will be relaxed. Dogs who tend to get rambunctious or anxious might need to sit this party out.
Make sure the room or enclosed yard is large enough for everyone to move about but small enough that your guests can retrieve their pets should anyone get unruly. Have extra leashes and plenty of puppy pads, poop bags, paper towels, trash bags, and spray cleaner available.
Some dogs can be protective of their home turf, so consider a neutral location.
Locations for a puppy shower
If your puppy shower invitation list is people-only, you can host your get-together just about anywhere you like, such as at your home, at a friend’s house, at a restaurant, or at a “make-your-own” craft studio. (Be certain the public establishments are aware of your gathering in advance. Make reservations, if necessary.)
The make-your-own craft centers are often a fun choice because the store managers can incorporate your theme into your craft project. For instance, a painting studio could invite everyone to bring a favorite photo of their pet to recreate on canvas. A ceramic studio can offer coffee mugs and other items to be personalized, glazed, and fired with your pet’s name along with an image of a paw print. Speak to the craft center manager in advance about reserving a section of the store to decorate for the party.
Foods to avoid at your puppy shower
If your gathering includes dogs, do not serve any of the many foods that are poisonous to dogs. Foregoing some foods is easier than scrambling to get a sick dog to an emergency veterinarian should one sneak something off a table when everyone is distracted.
Foods to avoid at a dog party include:
Avocado and guacamole
Candy or gum with the artificial sweetener Xylitol
Meat or poultry with bones
Must-have treats for a puppy shower
Every party needs a cake, and baking the puppy shower cake is a fun way for older children or friends to contribute to the festivities. Check online or at your local pet supply store for cake mixes that are specially formulated for dogs. They will typically be free of wheat/gluten and artificial flavors and sweeteners. Popular flavors for dog-friendly cakes are carrot, banana, and peanut butter. To make the cake even more special for the guest of honor, bake it in a pan that is shaped like a dog bone or paw print. If your pet supply store doesn’t carry these, check online.
A fun way for younger kids to participate in the puppy shower is to make no-bake dog treats and include them in party favor bags for friends to take home to their pets. Check out our Scarf'd recipe series for no-bake treats that incorporate ingredients like oatmeal with peanut butter or pureed fruits and vegetables. No-bake dog treats typically need to be refrigerated for several hours before bagging, so plan accordingly.
You can even get creative with these festive banana pet ice cream sandwiches - the possibilities are endless!
Gifts for a puppy shower
As a puppy grows, he or she will outgrow quite a few possessions, so here are some gift ideas:
Collars in increasing sizes, from puppy-size to adult dog-size
Extra leashes (Keep one in the car in case of an emergency door-dash episode)
Spray cleaners that are specially formulated to clean dog messes
Gift cards to pet supply stores, doggy daycares, self-serve dog washes, and groomers
Gift certificates to the veterinarian
Donation in the new pet’s name to the local pet shelter or rescue group
Your friend might also appreciate financial help with a big-ticket item, such as a dog crate, baby gate, GPS locater, or a donation to a pet insurance fund so they can protect their pet down the line. See if the party guests would like to pool their funds for one large gift instead of several smaller presents.
Games for a puppy shower
If dogs are present at your party, you probably won’t need games to get everyone chatting and interacting with one another. However, party activities are must-have ice breakers if you’re inviting people to your gathering who don’t know each other. Consider these fun activities:
Puppy pics: Everyone shares favorite photos of their pets, which is something that usually occurs anyway. Make it more formal by making a PowerPoint ahead of time or preparing your TV for casting.
Guess the number of dog treats: Whoever comes closest wins the container of treats!
Train the human: Have the more experienced dog owners share tips and tricks for being a good dog owner, such as the location of the emergency veterinary hospital, the benefit of having pet insurance, and the best ways to teach the basic commands (sit, stay, come, down, leave it and loose-leash walking).
Puppy showers are a great reason to get together with friends and a fun way to meet a new pet. Puppies grow quickly, so take plenty of photos at the party!
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.