Plan a Dog Picnic
By Arlo the Hound with help from Honor Tarpenning
This is the perfect time of year to have a picnic. It is a great excuse to get some friends together and enjoy the summer sunshine. I love picnics, they give me an opportunity to roll in the grass, nap in the shade, and be outside with my favorite humans. The only thing that could make every picnic better is more dogs! Why not plan a doggy picnic for your pooch’s friends?
Any fun party theme can be a fun dog party theme. Think tropical, retro, costume, singles, kids and dogs, Americana, western etc. A theme picnic gets everybody in the silly spirit before they even set foot at your event.
Invite dogs who already know each other. Consider neighborhood dogs, buddies from obedience training classes, pals from the dog park, friend’s dogs, family member’s dogs, and littermates. Try to keep your list to no more that 6 or 8 dogs; that will make it easier to control. Avoid inviting dog-aggressive and food-aggressive dogs; one bully dog can ruin the fun for everyone. Remember that breed is not always an indication of temperament. An aggressive Chihuahua can ruin the party just as easily as an aggressive dog that is known to be a “bully breed.”
Let them Get comfortable
Plan your event in advance and set up chances for the dogs to hang out prior. Think about inviting your whole guest list to the dog park a couple of times beforehand. By the date of your picnic, they’ll be running like their own pack.
Call your local park and see if you can hold a small event there. Most parks allow dogs on leashes. On-leash dog picnics allow for an easy-going, well controlled time. Otherwise, any fenced-in area will do for an off-leash picnic. If you want to have the picnic in your own fenced in yard, keep in mind that your dog might be territorial when it comes to his own yard. Pre-plan spaced-out times for your guests to arrive so your dog is not barraged by a ton of dogs in his yard at the same time.
Handmade invitations are fun and easy to put together. Be sure to mention how long you plan for your picnic to last so you don’t have to play host for longer than you intended. A few hours is sufficient to wear out your dogs and have tons of fun. A cute idea to spice up your invitations is to include Milkbone biscuits with each invite. Snag a box of biscuits, roll each invitation (picture how many schools roll their diplomas and tie them with a ribbon) and tie a bow around each invitation and a biscuit.
Think along the lines of people-picnic food. Plain grilled chicken or turkey dogs make great snacks for the dogs. Mention on your invitations that food will be provided, or ask that each guest brings a dog-friendly snack for everyone. Have each guest bring a bowl for their dog, or provide enough bowls for all the dogs, and feed them all at once. Have each dog sit and wait to be fed and have each owner fill their dog’s bowl at the same time. This will help you side-step food aggression.
Make sure you supply plenty of water. Your dogs will be running around and playing until they are worn-out. They will probably drink more water than usual. It is a good idea to have a couple of big buckets full of water next to an outdoor hose so you can keep them full. Also provide plenty of shade. If there aren’t trees where you plan on having your picnic, bring beach umbrellas, or just string a tapestry or sheet between some tent poles—anything to let the dogs get out of the sun when they get hot.
Supply plenty of sturdy toys for the dogs to play with. Find lots of different toys and let each dog pick one to take home. You can also purchase a big bag of treats or rawhides and give each dog a take-home snack as they leave.
I hope you enjoy your dog picnic! Hurry up and plan one—summer’s almost over already!
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Tips about wild animal attacks and your dog.