If you have children of any age, the chances are that sooner or later you’re going to have to host a birthday party at home for them, and open your house up to a number of other children, parents, and plenty of mess and noise too.
Whilst you may well be to avoid this most years by holding your child’s birthday party outside of the home, sooner or later most kids want a party at home, and this might mean that however reluctant you are, it is unavoidable.
If you own a dog, having a kid’s party has an added layer of complication, because your dog’s home will effectively dramatically transform and be taken over by a hoard of strange and probably excited children, parents, food, décor, and lots of other things.
Some dogs will be really excited about this and some terrified; but either way, there are a lot of moving parts in play, and a lot of scope for things to go wrong, resulting in the dog or a child becoming upset or anxious or worse, getting hurt.
With this in mind, this article will point out some of the most common hazards and problems that can arise if your dog is around for your child’s birthday party, to enable you to make an informed decision about whether or not to take the dog elsewhere for the duration, and to know what to watch out for if you don’t.
Read on to learn more.
Even if your dog loves children as a rule and even if they know most or all of the children you’ve invited to the party, a party environment changes children’s behaviour in a way that can confuse and upset your dog. The kids are likely to be excitable, noisy, and quite boisterous, as well as not paying attention to things properly.
Strange children or on the flipside, known children behaving strangely (to your dog) is a recipe for disaster and can be dangerous.
Children behave somewhat differently on their birthdays to normal; teachers will tell you this! They’re more excitable, can be naughtier, and may be more emotional. Add in friends and a party, and your child’s behaviour may be odd to your dog too, and this can really confuse and upset them, particularly if your child normally pays attention to or is mindful of the dog and this changes on the day.
Children are by no means the only potential problem! With children, you have a reasonable expectation that they will follow direction and not think they know best about something; when you factor in other parents being in your home, this can be more of a problem than the children they bring!
They might not think that a sign saying “dog in this room do not disturb” applies to them, they might not think they were included in instructions not to feed the dog as they know what is and is not poisonous to dogs, or they might simply accidentally let the dog out, which children are less likely to do as they won’t be coming and going on their own.
Parties are noisy, and this involves potentially singing, music, shouting, screaming for fun, laughing, and overall, a lot of racket! There might be other odd noises too like party poppers or noisemakers that may distress, confuse, or wind your dog up.
Parties mean food, and all types of food, all over the place. From the party spread to the cake to party bags, sweets, any food-related gifts and perhaps something else for the adults to eat, there is likely to be food of many different types in many different places, held by many small dog-friendly hands and dropped by said hands without a second thought just as quickly!
A lot of this food will be outright dangerous for your dog and none of it will be good for them, and keeping all of the food and the dog well apart might be near-on impossible given all of the variables.
Many children dress very smartly or in their favourite dresses for parties, but some parties involve dressing up, with bulky or complex costumes, perhaps superhero face masks, and accessories that might flash or otherwise catch the eye.
All of this can confuse and scare a dog, and may generate a bad reaction from them. Also, never dress your dog up for the party; don’t even put them in a party hat, they won’t enjoy it.
Birthday cake candles can be a hazard with children, but they can also be a problem with the dog, particularly if he decides the cake looks tasty! Pay as much mind to keeping the dog and the candles apart as you do to the safety of the children present around the flames.
Many kid’s parties involve the presents being left on a table to be opened later on, and presents brought for your child can be a problem for your dog. Some may contain food, and even if they do not, dogs are curious animals and yours might decide to start the unwrapping early.
Not only will this likely upset the birthday child, but eating a present or even some of the wrapping can be dangerous, so keep track of presents and keep them out of the dog’s reach.
Finally, when everyone has left, whether your dog was present, kept in another room, or taken elsewhere for the duration, when you say goodbye to the last visitors and heave a sigh of relief, pause before you let your dog loose in the house again.
Tackle the clean-up and particularly, the hunt for dropped and discarded food before you let your dog out, or you might find that after making it through the main event successfully, you fall at the final hurdle.