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Puppies for Rent: You Can Have a Puppy Party. But Should You?

Animal advocacy organizations, such as Best Friends Animal Society, raise serious concerns that renting puppies from unethical businesses perpetuates inhumane breeding practices.

by Janelle Leeson, | January 1, 2024

Puppies for Rent: You Can Have a Puppy Party. But Should You?

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Animal lovers can agree that an armful of puppies brings instant joy. So, the not-so-new trend of renting puppies for parties might sound like pure magic. It’s also no surprise that companies offering puppies for rent saw booming success, in part thanks to social media and mainstream media attention, but if renting a puppy for your next soirée sounds too good to be true, you might be onto something. 

Animal advocacy organizations, such as Best Friends Animal Society, raise serious concerns that renting puppies from unethical businesses perpetuates inhumane breeding practices. However, animal rescues and organizations are offering ethical options for quality time with puppies and adult dogs, including sleepovers, puppy parties, and outings. Here are the problems with puppy renting. 

Can you rent a puppy for a day?

Puppy-rental companies boast that their puppies are available for corporate events, carnivals, birthday parties, bachelorette parties, wedding proposals, and photo shoots. But should you rent a puppy? Nope.

“Renting” puppies for the afternoon should involve far more consideration than a quick online search. Unlike scrolling for five-star reviews of party supplies, renting a dog has real, potentially negative consequences that deserve careful thought.

Here are a few reasons why you don’t want to rent a puppy:

  • These for-profit rental companies use designer puppies from puppy mills to supply the fleeting fun, contributing to animal overpopulation.

  • These establishments prioritize profit over animal welfare, often subjecting their puppies to harmful conditions.

  • And allowing people to rent dogs can also support the idea that caring for a pet isn’t a long-term commitment.

These young puppies may become overworked and overwhelmed, leading to long-term behavioral issues. “If a dog has negative experiences with people early on, they learn not to be comfortable and social with people, but to be nervous or afraid around them,” writes Karen B. London, PhD in her article about puppy socialization. “It’s far better to meet people one or two at a time and have those people provide treats, toys and gentle touching in a calm setting.”

So, where can you play with puppies?

The good news: There are plenty of alternatives to enjoy playing with puppies without contributing to potentially harmful practices. Animal shelters and rescues are embracing the puppy party trend, offering puppy birthday parties, play sessions, and puppy cuddles at corporate events, all with an ethical twist.

The University of California at Berkeley partners with the Animal Rescue Foundation to host Pet Hugs events, where a pack of adorable therapy dogs take over campus to provide their cuddly support. But you don’t need to enroll in a bachelor program to gently wrap your arms around a well-socialized dog or cat. The Animal Rescue Foundation’s “Pet Hug Pack” is available for scheduling at your facility, free of charge. 

Other volunteer opportunities to play with puppies, cats, and even rabbits include:

Benefits of volunteering at animal shelters

Whether you’re interested in adopting a puppy or an adult dog, or you simply want to spend quality time with a pup, many shelters welcome volunteers and visitors to play with puppies and dogs. It provides dogs with much-needed socialization. Consider fostering a puppy or dog. Shelters often provide everything you’ll need, and if they don’t, you can write foster pet expenses off on your taxes.

There are many other reasons why you should volunteer to spend time with pets, especially those available for adoption: 

  • Spending time with pets helps to socialize them or get them comfortable around people and large groups. This, in turn, can help them get adopted and acclimate to their new homes more quickly. 

  • Sleepovers and outings reveal a pet’s true personality. When you report back to shelter staff, they’ll use this information to place them with the perfect individual or family. 

  • If you’re interested in adopting, puppy parties, outings, and sleepovers are all fantastic ways to see if you and the pup are a good match. 

  • Spending time with animals reduces stress and boosts happiness for both humans and pets.

How much does a puppy party cost?

Ready to host an ethical puppy party? Shelters and rescues tend to ask for donations ranging from $450 for at-home puppy parties to $700 for a corporate puppy party. “All monies raised by puppy parties help us save more animals, either by covering veterinary procedures, transportation expenses, food costs, or more,” assures Secondhand Hounds, who provide at least three puppies or adult dogs for parties in the Minnetonka, Minnesota area. 

Rather than transporting puppies and dogs to your home or office, you can also opt to bring your party to a shelter or rescue near you. For example, the Animal Humane Society happily hosts 90-minute parties for $275. Your in-shelter puppy party can include an adoption floor tour, games, and a meet and greet with an adoptable animal. At the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, puppy parties start at $300 and can include making treats for the adoptable dogs.

Commonly asked questions

Where can I go to play with puppies for free?

Volunteering at a reputable animal rescue or shelter is the best way to get your puppy fix for free. Beyond volunteer work at the shelter, many animal rescues and shelters offer sleepovers and daytime outings for potential adopters and volunteers, allowing you to spend quality time with a puppy.

Can you rent an older dog? 

Renting an adult dog from a shelter or rescue is possible. Just let the staff know you’d like to spend quality time with an adult or senior dog when scheduling a volunteer session.

Janelle Leeson

Janelle Leeson

Janelle Leeson is a Portland, Oregon-based freelance writer. Her work has been featured in magazines such as Inside Your Dog’s Mind, Inside Your Cat’s Mind, and Paw Print, as well online at Insider Reviews, NBC Select, Shop Today, PetMD, and Daily Paws. She has two adventure cats, a flock of urban chickens, and a soon-to-be-husband who doesn’t mind housing the occasional foster cat — or five.

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