Learn everything you need to know about having a successful, fun-filled puppy play date!
Many dog parents find that their four-legged companions crave the attention and friendship of other dogs. Not only are dog play dates exciting and fun, but they also help your dog to get their energy out so that they are content and mellow at home. If you have a young puppy, puppy play dates are also important for proper socialization and training purposes.
There are a few things to remember when arranging doggy play dates. If you don’t follow a few simple tips and strategies for choosing whom to play with, where to play, and for how long, what should be a fun-filled hour can turn into quite the stressful disaster!
Get the treat pack of your dog's dreams… Includes one package each of:
Treat Me Crunchy Beef Delight
Treat Me Chicken Jerky Recipe
Treat Me Crunchy Turkey Treats
Treat Me Chilean Blue Sea Mussels
Treat Me Beef Liver
Don’t worry- we’ve put together a simple list of tips for successful dog play dates for you to look over and use as a reference.
How To Have A Dog Play Date
Here are 9 things to think about before and during your dog play date.
#1 What Kind Of Play Does Your Dog Love?
Be familiar with how your dog likes to play. Do they prefer to run around as much as possible? Are they a rough-and-tumbler type of player? Do they like light, low-key play or intense play? It is important to understand how your dog likes to play so that you can pair them with a similar partner. If you take your shy, quiet, sweet-tempered dog that likes to play gently on a date with a super intense dog who likes to wrestle, your dog probably won’t have fun. Watching your dog struggle socially is also stressful for you as a pet parent.
Be sensitive about the sizes of the dogs you are thinking of bringing together. In most cases, it best to pair your dog with other dogs in a similar size group. Your dog will be less likely to hurt or get hurt by another dog this way.
There may be exceptions to this rule. For example, it is probably safe to pair a large, very mellow with a smaller dog.
#3 Play Somewhere Neutral
Dogs are more likely to behave amicably in a neutral environment. Choose a location that is fully fenced, dog-friendly and safe. If you bring another dog to your home for a play date, there is a chance your dog could feel territorial and defensive. This is not always the case, however. Some dogs are just fine with friends coming over to play. You know your dog best.
If you do choose to invite other dogs over, try to introduce them somewhere neutral first to see how they get along.
#4 Be Flexible About Expectations
No matter how much you plan, some play dates just aren’t going to work out. Be flexible and okay with leaving early or ending time together if the dogs aren’t doing well together. Always be sensitive to your dog and don’t make them stay around another dog that is making them afraid, anxious, or unhappy.
#5 No Helicopter Parenting
It can be tempting to try and control everything that happens during a play date, but unless someone is getting hurt, try to refrain from stepping in. Let the dogs set the pace. They may want to take their time in getting to know each other, or they might begin wrestling right away. Don’t be a helicopter parent.
Don’t micro-manage the dogs, but don’t ignore them either. When dogs are at play, the mood can change very quickly so you want to stay focused on them and mindful of how they’re doing. It’s fine to talk to your people friends and spend time catching up, but don’t forget that the play date is first for the dogs and then for you.
#7 Study & Understand Dog Body Language
You should be very familiar with dog body language if you are taking your pet on play dates. Some dogs are extremely vocal and rowdy when they play and this is not always a sign that things are going badly. Know what is appropriate and inappropriate play and watch for body language to tell you if things are going awry.
#8 Provide Plenty Of Water
Bring some clean water to keep your doggy hydrated. Plenty of water will also help your dog to play longer and get all their energy out versus becoming tired quickly from dehydration.
#9 Use Toys Wisely
Toys can add some extra fun to a play date, but can also spur aggression for some dogs. If you notice either dog attacking the other for getting close to the toy, it might be best to take it away. However it both dogs are playing happily, toys add a fun dimension to time together.
If you use these strategies before and during your play dates, they can be some of the most fun experiences with your dog. If you have a dog that is particularly shy and prefers human company, don’t feel bad! He just thinks you’re cooler than other dogs!
What has helped you have successful play dates? Did we leave out any important points?