This is a daunting undertaking but can be rewarding. In case you wonder why there are some things included, well, it’s because I have encountered that exact thing.
Starting a puppy group takes patience and perseverance. Don’t let yourself get too frustrated with a low turn out to start and even a few times. Get the word out, plan something you enjoy. That way if no one else shows up that time you still have fun.
Come up with your group name and logo if possible. Keep it simple and to the point Things to decide on How much area geographically will your group cover? City? State? Region? Is this more a public social group? Is it a hard core play group? These are things you really have to think about. Remember many new pups are shy and they need a more neutral setting until they are more comfortable.
Use social networking!! Things like Facebook and Twitter are great ways to find other pups. Remember that even pups that are not local to you, might be interested in your event or may even know pups local to you. Network! Network! Network! Find someone that is local? Drop them an introductory note about the group, events and such. Remember some email groups, social networking sites might have a bias and if you are not able to post things, don’t let it bother you. There are lots of other places out there you can get the word out and lots of others that will help you.
Keep the excitement up! Find those that will help grow the group? Keep them excited and plan fun things that everyone might be interested in. This means talking to them and listening to what they want to do (see planning an event below)
Find a pup friendly location, find a local bar or club will let you pup out. Talk to the owner or manager and find out if you can get a time for the pups to come out. If they will agree to a mosh pit, you can get mats cheaply at some place like Harbor Freight. You need to be prepared to provide your own setup to keep the pups safe. Make sure you also have things like a first aid kit ready and taking a Red Cross First Aid class is a HUGE plus!
Keep getting the word out! Make up a flyer (keep it PG) and post at bars, coffee shops, adult shops or wherever those interested might see it. Keep the flyers fresh. Change them out every few weeks with a new color paper and a flyer that is a little different. Contact International Puppy Tampa and Ipah.org and let them know about your events. There are a TON of puppy groups on Facebook.
It can take a lot of time and effort to put something on not to mention the stress of what feels like trying to herd drunk cats sometimes. Remember when you are planning an event to be aware of other events planned around. Try not and plan something on top of someone else's event unless you talk it over with them first. It's very frustrating when you are planning something only to have someone muddle things up. If at all else possible if 2 want to do events around the same time, try working together to do like a weekend of events. If you plan an event and no one shows up, as the old saying goes try, try again. Sometimes it falls into place for a great turn out and sometimes it doesn't. Try and remember to keep things as reasonable as possible. If all else fails, ask opinions before planning the event. If doing something public like at a business, mall, park, etc. with today's increased awareness with security and transmittable virus threats, check with the owner/manager/park service director or whatever to make sure things like puppy gear are allowed. It's not fun to have security making you take your puppy gear off in front of kids or be seen being escorted out of the premises.
Events like Puppy Coffee and such, please make sure of the following.........
For the location 1. They are open and what their hours are (usually place needs to be open till at least 9-11pm or later) 2. They can handle a group (have seating space) 3. If it's an outdoor space make sure there is a contingency for bad weather 4. Know what the parking situation is before and post ( is it metered parking? hours for meters? pay parking garage? street parking?)
For the online group posting 1. When you are suggesting a place, please post complete info - name, address, phone number of location, other known things like parking 2. Post price range, link to menu, coupons, etc. 3. Post if it is an age restricted location I.e. 21+
This will hopefully make sure that if someone is away from the computer and there are questions
At someone's house or apartment -
When you go to an event, someone has spent time, energy and a lot of the time some money especially if they are having it at their apartment or house. Be a good guest! Some of the things you need to pay close attention to are:
Smoking rules - Can you smoke inside and if not, where can you smoke. Also don't just discard your cigarette butts, put them where they belong
Pet rules - if they have dogs or cats in the house, make sure you don't stand with the door open and make sure you close it tightly if you go in or out. If it's ok to give the animals treats or anything
PDA rules - Unless you are going to an orgy, keep it in your pants. If you are doing something and someone else looks uncomfortable....stop! In some areas you can do more in a bar setting than in other areas. Know what is a no-no!
Potluck rules - The whole purpose of a Potluck is a gathering where everyone brings a dish to share. The rule of thumb is that whatever you bring should be enough for 4-6 people to each have a decent serving. Look at it like going out got a decent dinner. You would probably spend $15 plus for Chili's or Fudruckers, and you are getting a hellacious amount of food that you will have at, so spend accordingly. Nothing pisses off a host more than a mooch. If you want to come but can't financially afford to get something, talk to the host upfront/privately BEFORE the event about it. Heck if nothing else offer to do dishes, take out the trash or help clean up. Contribute how you can that will help the host!
Cleanliness rules - Be a good guest and you make sure you get invited back. Use common sense and common courtesy when at someone's place. Use coasters or a napkin to sit your drink on. Throw your cans, cups, plates, trash away. If you are using "real" plates, glasses, silverware, take them to the kitchen and as the host what they want done with them. You may like living in a cluttered place but that does not give you right to do it as someone else's place. Also ...... take a shower and wear clean clothes, clean gear unless it’s a sweat/piss event. then ask what you should wear.
R.S.V.P.'s - When an invite is given in any form and you plan on attending even if it's a "maybe" let the host know. If you can't make it don't just be a no show, let the house know what you are not able to make it. Don't just drop in unless you know that is ok ahead of time. If a set time is given for things to start try and be there on time or a little early. If you are running late
let someone know.
Public Gatherings - Some special things to remember here
PDA's - Use common sense. Most of the time if you are at someplace like a coffee shop or cafe you are in mixed company (gay/straight) so not an appropriate place for public displays of affection. If you are in a bar and it’s all good feel free to go to the accepted limits.
Puppy Regalia - Make sure with who over is organizing it - puppy gear, ears, tails, collars, etc are OK. Remember not everyone understands Puppy or all they know about it is what they saw on CSI. This is not a "Squick the Mundanes" game.
Support the business - Most the time outings take place at restaurants, coffee houses or something similar. Be prepared to buy something. These are businesses, if everyone came and didn't buy something the business would close it's doors. Also don't go and expect someone to cover you or worse yet, they order something and beg someone to pay for it for them. If someone is going to cover you, make arrangements prior - and pay that person back if that is what is supposed to happen!
Be a good customer - If it's at a bar, don't get stupid drunk so the rest of the group has to take care of you. If you have had too much to drink, give someone your keys. Also chances are the person that has organized the outing has a friendly relationship with staff at the business. If you are not sure if something is ok or not, ask! Also don't do things that annoy, hurt, injure your friends or other customers. Also know age limits! It’s it’s a 21+ event and you are not old enough, this can cause major problems for everyone if you sneak in.
Puppy gear - Make sure that your gear is acceptable for the event. Know what the rules are. In Saint Louis for example, if you wear a jock or thong you must have a 1” strip down the back side.
Don't make a scene! - Leave the drama for your mamma! If you come to an event and start shit, expect to be asked to leave and not allowed back! Groups work best with a 3 strikes rule before you will be asked not to return to a group event. Depending on the action or input from others involved, it can be a 6 month suspension from attending events to permanent. The exception is if anyone threatens another for any reason including threatening the individual, individual’s belongings or individual’s work or school career. This is cause for immediate suspension from any and all group events.
Hopefully this helps and will make for some fun events in the coming months!!
Just remember....it only takes one person not playing by the rules of common decency and etiquette to ruin that event and events in the future for everyone
This has been written in part for the Puppy 101 class at International Puppy Tampa 2012 by Christopher “Tyger”/”Woof” Roth. Please feel free to use this for your own group, event or contest. All I ask is that the proper credits are given.