Karen B. London
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Protecting Dogs During Parties
Should they stay or should they go?
Schultize was not at the party. She was relaxing elsewhere.

We were heading to a neighborhood party where the majority of the guests were most excited about the beer pong and the glorious buffet. As for me, the main draw was an opportunity to see Schultzie, whose guardians were hosting. I have already written about Schultzie, who I love. We have had the joy of dogsitting for her several times, and I couldn’t wait to see her.

You can imagine my distress when I arrived and was told that Schultzie was at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for the night. Yes, I was disappointed, but I was also relieved that Schultzie would be safe and free from the angst that affects so many dogs at parties. Most dogs can handle a few guests, but bigger events pose significant issues for many of them.

There are the physical risks: being stepped on, going outside through a door that is inadvertently left open and ending up in the road, being hit by errant throws in ladder ball, disc golf or any other garden games so common at summer gatherings, consuming something unhealthy that drops on the floor or that a well-intentioned guest offers—including alcohol.

There are also psychological risks: it may be too loud, the dog may be unable to locate the guardians, the amount of activity may be overwhelming, unusual behavior by guests may cause stress in the dog, and staying up later than usual may be problematic.

There are many solutions for making sure that dogs do not suffer because of a party at their house. They can visit friends or family members and avoid the party altogether, as Schultzie did. They can be taken to a professional boarding facility. If they are comfortable with it, they can spend the party cozy in a crate in a closed room, or just be put in a closed room without the crate.

Another option is for the dog to be under the watchful eye of a person who is constantly watching them and running interference to make sure that the dog is protected from any party dangers. This is a big job, similar to watching a toddler. It is not enough for the person to casually attend to the dog. That can lead to a situation in which someone asks where the dog is and the answer is something like, “Hmm, she’s around here somewhere,” which indicates inadequate supervision.

How do you protect your dog from the risks when you are entertaining large groups of people?


Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Jen | June 29 2013 |

I just recently had to deal with this issue with my 2 year old great dane when we threw my son's graduation party. She is very people friendly, not a beggar, and definitely too large to be accidentally stepped on. However family had their young toddlers (and since my children are older she's never been exposed to little little ones) so we opted to keep her in the house while we were in the back yard. She watched the whole time through the screen door and was very sad not to be involved in the festivities. After the little ones left, we let everyone know she was coming out and let her out. She did her business and then lay down in the tent just pleased to be with everyone. Should have ended nicely but we had an incident, my cousin's 12 year old daughter got out of the pool and Sugar realized she hadn't greeted her yet so she walked up to her and being a large dane looked her right in the eyes. My cousins daughter freaked out screamed and ran, well Sugar being young and loving to play thought it was a game so she ran right behind her making her happy Dane growls (it's not so much of a growl as a deep throaty roar that she makes when she's playing,) she then grabbed the bikini string and started to pull. By time my husband and I got everything settled down the poor girl was sobbing inconsolably and Sugar was hiding under a table not sure why she had gotten yelled at. From now on Sugar is only going to be attending parties with large groups of people who she doesn't know and who don't know her on a leash. What happened wasn't fair to either the little girl or Sugar and it was fully our fault.

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