How to prepare for your dog’s 1st birthday

light colored dog

Congratulations, it’s your dog’s first birthday!

With all the trials and tribulations of loving, nurturing and every now and again counting calmly to 10 as you find your favourite shoes go from Choo’s to Chews, your growing puppy will hopefully have matured into the wonderful dog of your dreams.

Most dog breeds will have reached full size and sexual maturity by this age, with some of the large or giant breeds continuing to grow in both height and weight well into their second year. As your puppy’s first birthday looms, not only is it a time to celebrate, but also to contemplate some adult concepts and decisions such as neutering and further education.

What to consider for your dog’s 1st birthday:

1. Neutering
– Agreed, a pretty rubbish present, but if you haven’t done it by now, at least consider it. Neutering helps to reduce undesirable sexual behaviours and aggression, while reducing your dog’s chances of developing sex-hormone related conditions later in life such as testicular, mammary tumours and prostate problems. Neutering is key to being a responsible dog owner, helping to keep canine numbers under control and helping rescue dogs to find homes that might otherwise be taken by more puppies. Annual vaccinations may also be due very soon, so make an appointment today to ensure that your maturing dog continues to be kept in tip top health.

2. Treats

– I’m no baker, but there are some amazing websites that can guide you through the colourful world of canine cuisine. Try playbarkrun, or dogtreatkitchen and find everything from carrot cakes to peanut butter and banana slice for your birthday pup. Whether it’s baking cupcakes (or pup cakes, if you will) or a proper dog birthday cake which can be enjoyed by both you and your one-year-old pooch, the internet has a vast array of options. If you can’t cook yourself, there are a number of specific canine bakeries across the UK selling all manner of tasty treats for your pooch – just make sure that your choice doesn’t upset your maturing dog’s tummy by trying one protein source at a time and eating in moderation. One little word of warning when baking your birthday masterpiece at home: avoid certain foods which are known to be toxic to dogs, such as chocolate and raisins. Gently and carefully explore the world of culinary delights for dogs now that your furball is mature, though be mindful that gastronomic discovery can sometimes lead to explosive gastrointestinal accidents from your overly happy birthday dog…not really the thank-you you were after!

3. Outings and activities

– A good quality collar and lead with an ID tag are crucial for any well-heeled dog about town, containing vital contact details which will be crucial if Fido ends up taking it upon himself to not come back in the park or slip the lead when on a walk. Microchips are now a legal requirement when owning a dog, with most puppies already having them in place when they are collected from breeders or inserted upon visiting the vet for the first vaccinations. If your dog doesn’t have one, then make an appointment with your vet now! Trips to the park and further afield are great, but with your dog reaching full physical maturity, it’s time to explore the exciting world of canine exercise. One of my favourite new doggy pastimes is Canix – basically running with your pooch attached to a bungee cord in front of you – with many clubs springing up all over the UK. Dog training and obedience practiced over the last 12 months can open the door to the exciting world of dog agility, with dogs running and jumping through obstacle courses testing both agility and intellect. And for the more relaxed zen canines amongst us, why not try a spot of Dog Yoga, or Doga, classes held in local parks, where you perform various stretches alongside your dog…no, seriously!

brown colored dog
4. Presents

– moving swiftly on from offering up neutering as a present (sorry pup!), new beds and toys will never be a disappointment to your happy birthday dog. Objects to throw, chase and chew continue to stimulate your dog and further cement your close relationship through play and exercise, while collars, leads and grooming equipment fill the ‘new socks and pants’ element of your canine’s first birthday experience.

5. Thinking outside the box

– why not consider throwing a puppy birthday party for your pooch, inviting friends, family, local dog walkers and pups that graduated through puppy training with your furbaby to enjoy the fun. Rather than confirming yourself as the crazy person who has dog parties, it is a great way to continue your dog’s socialisation journey while enjoying the fruits of your year’s labour of love, a new circle of friends and a celebration of the amazing, affectionate and well-balanced canine companion that you have raised. I have found some really special gifts for canines or even friends who own dogs on, from bespoke collars and bowls to jaunty neckerchiefs and dog suited macaroons for the special hound in your life. If your puppy has all that they could desire, why not give back to the members of the canine world that are less fortunate. Consider a regular donation to your local animal charity, or wonderful national and international charities such as International Animal Rescue, who help dogs in need abroad. Offering your time to help walk dogs, clean kennels or bake cakes for local animal shelters can really make a difference, giving back to the canine world for which you may have a new-found appreciation after your first amazing year of life with your lucky pooch.

Happy 1st birthday to your canine companion, and I hope you have a long, healthy and rewarding life together.