5 min read

How to Throw a Puppy Bowl Party: DOGTV’s Guide to Tail-gating

How to Throw a Puppy Bowl Party: DOGTV’s Guide to Tail-gating

Is football season wrapping up already? That means we’re heading into the best time of year: the Puppy Bowl! Let DOGTV be your guide to the ultimate puppy celebration: from picking a menu of “pawfect” treats, to ensuring your gathering is pup-friendly, we’ll help you create an afternoon filled with fun! So grab your canine crew and get ready to go hound the competition — we’re going to teach you how to throw a Puppy Bowl party your guests won’t forget!

Invite friends and family

The first thing you’ll need is your guest list – if you are a pet parent yourself, keep your pup’s temperament in mind before you send out invitations. If your dog is nervous around new people, keep the party to a small group that your dog already knows and trusts. Similarly, consider your dog’s tolerance for noise and chaos. Some dogs enjoy a festive environment, while others may get overwhelmed and anxious. Make sure your pup has a safe, quiet space they can get to if they start to get stressed.

How is your dog around children? Some dogs are great with kids, while others are a little skittish. It makes sense – these little humans can be unpredictable and don’t always know to be gentle with Fido. If any of your guests have young kids, you must be mindful of this. Even the most gentle, loving dogs have limits, and as a pet parent it’s your responsibility to keep your dog and your guests safe. 

What about other dogs? Some guests may assume that their dog is invited too, but it may or may not make sense to include them in the festivities. So make that decision early, and then make it clear. If there will be kids present, the best advice is to make the guest list humans-only. Again, it’s your responsibility to keep everyone safe, and if you’re planning a Puppy Bowl party, it’s probably because you want to watch the Puppy Bowl – not because you want to keep tabs on your neighbor’s kid and your cousin’s dog all night,.

Even if you are not planning on having young kids present at your party, that’s not necessarily a green light to have everyone bring their dogs. Before sending out invitations, you’ll need to be mindful of how your dog plays with others. Only let your guests bring their pup if they’ve already met your dog and you know that they play together well. Even then, we’d recommend only  having one or two extra dogs in attendance to ensure that you can keep an eye on all the dogs throughout the party. Will that mean some guests are told their dog has to stay home? Probably. If you’re concerned about hurt feelings, it’s easier to make a blanket statement than to choose who gets to bring their pup as a +1 and who doesn’t: “Because we want to keep everyone safe, and let everyone have the opportunity to enjoy watching the game, this invitation is only for humans. Thanks for understanding.”

Plan your party menu 

Now that you’ve got your guest list sorted out, on to the next step of planning your Puppy Bowl party: food! There’s a famous quote from Julia Child: “ A party without cake is just a meeting.” Cake isn’t necessarily what you think of when it comes to tailgating, but her point remains: a good party involves good food! 

Food for dogs

If you’ll have dogs in attendance at your Puppy Bowl party, make sure that what you’re serving is dog-safe, in case of drops or spills. You should also be mindful of any pups with a tendency to counter-surf. I can think of more than one occasion when I thought my dinner was safely out of reach, but when I turned my back for a minute, I found myself outsmarted by a hungry hound. If you are serving wings, and a sneaky pup manages to get ahold of some, you could find yourself at the emergency vet instead of at home watching the big game, so be thoughtful about your menu choices. We’ve got loads of dog-safe recipes on DOGTV. These pretzels could easily be twisted into football shapes to make fun snacks for your guests, whatever species they are.

Another tip is to feed your dog before the party. That way he might be less likely to beg for food or try to sneak any food when you aren’t looking. You can also stuff a few Kongs before the party, so if you see your pup eyeing the buffet, you can give him a snack of his own to work on for a while.

Food for humans

If you won’t have dogs at your party (or if you are confident that you can keep your pups out of the human food) you can go crazy with your food choices. There’s no shortage of game day recipes on the internet. Don’t be afraid to have fun with your menu. Any Pinterest-mom can tell you, you can give almost any food a clever name, and all of a sudden it’s on theme for the party. Case in point: I once attended a camping themed baby shower where the menu served pigs in blankets. Tasty, classic, but generally unremarkable, right? The only reason I remember what kind of food was served is because the hostess had them labeled as wiener dogs in sleeping bags.  So serve up some crock pot mutt-balls, or rename your chips and queso to chips and “ok, so, who are we cheering for?” cheese dip and ta-da! Now you have an unforgettable menu.  Good snacks, bad puns, can’t lose!

Start decorating

Now we are getting down to the nitty gritty: decorations! Any big box store will have football themed party supplies, so it’s easy to go that route. But since you’re hosting a Puppy Bowl party, let’s take it up a notch! Amazon has tons of cute dog-themed party supplies. Most of what you’ll find is intended for birthday parties, so a lot of the supplies may include dogs with party hats on. Dogs with party hats are adorable no matter what you’re celebrating, but the options we’ve rounded up below include some non-birthday options. And if you want to be festive with minimal effort, another easy option for decorations is to go with the classic blue and orange Puppy Bowl colors. Toss up some blue and orange streamers, and you’re good to go. 

  1. Corgi Disposable Plates 2. Dog Themed Party Tableware 3. Blue and Orange Pennant Bunting 4. Orange and Blue Party Streamers 5. Puppy Plates 6. Dog Print Party Supplies 7. Dog Print Nacho Boat 8. Dog Themed Party Tableware

Paw-ty Favors

If you’ll have dogs at the party, even just your own, party favors are always a fun addition to a gathering. They may be considered a little extra, but if you are throwing a Puppy Bowl party you may as well go all in. Not only does this give pups at the party something to keep them occupied, it’s a fun reminder of your event after your guests go home. 

Depending on how aggressive a dog’s chewing style is, you may want a soft plush, or a more durable toy, but football toys are sure to be a hit with your guests, both canine and human. We found a lot of affordable options on Amazon and some of our favorites are linked below.

1. Gnawsome Squeaky Light-up Football  2. EASTBLUE Squeaky Football for Aggressive Chewers   3. Nylabone Power Play Football Gripz 4. Chiwava Squeaky Football

Game time

Puppy Bowl XIX airs on Sunday February 12th (the same day as that other game) at 2pm ET – with the pregame show starting at 1pm ET on Animal Planet. If you’re not an Animal Planet subscriber, you can stream on Discovery+. Just like years past, America’s favorite ruff-eree Dan Schachner will be officiating. As of this writing, it seems that former coaches Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart have retired, so Team Ruff and Team Fluff will have to battle for the “Lombarky” trophy without the coaches’ guidance this year. We can’t wait to see the puppies in this epic battle of cuteness.

Now You’re Ready to Party!

With these tips in your back pocket, you’re all set to have the best Puppy Bowl party ever.  By following our guide, you’re well on your way to hosting a get-together that your guests will be woofing about for years to come.

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