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Dogs, Quick Tips

5 Essential Tips for a Successful Dog Play Date

The Paw Print

Essential Pet Blog

two dogs cuddling

Connection. Outside of food and shelter, it’s one of the basic necessities we crave as human beings; it’s just part of the way we’re wired. But have you ever looked at your dog and wondered if they miss playing with other dogs? Everyone knows proper socialization is vital to the well-being of our pets, and depending upon your pet’s temperament, he or she might really be craving a little bit of socialization. Whether your dog is an only-pup or has a fur-sibling or two, getting them out for a play date with another dog can be a really great experience. Puppy play dates can give your dog the kind of stimulation and interaction that, as a human, you simply can’t.

Before you call your friend who also owns a dog to schedule a get together, there are a few things to keep in mind. As great as a play date can be, there are hundreds of ways they can go wrong, too. Here are a few tips to help you avoid doggy play date disaster.

  1. Choose playmates wisely

Ultimately, staging a successful play date hinges upon choosing a great playmate for your dog. Size is probably the most important factor to consider. Even sweet, well-intentioned dogs can accidentally injure their playmates if they are miss-matched in size. You’ll also want to consider your dog’s temperament, age, and activity level, and try to find a playmate who is similar.

  1. Location, location, location

Although it might be more convenient to host a play date in your own home or at your friend’s home, we strongly advise against it. Finding a neutral location can help you avoid any issues with territorial behavior. If possible, choose a fenced area that will allow for off-leash play.

  1. First impressions matter

The greeting will set the tone for the whole play date, so it’s important to make it a positive one. Keep both dogs on the leash initially, until you are sure there won’t be any issues. After a few minutes of on-leash sniffing and greeting, you can remove the leashes.

  1. Keep all interactions supervised

You’ll want to keep a close eye on both dogs the whole time, so you can intervene if behaviors take an aggressive turn. Keep in mind that typical dog play can look like aggressive behavior, and you won’t want to break up the fun if it’s simply good natured rough housing. Keep your eyes out for growling, baring teeth, and bristling fur. You know your dog best, and if your gut is telling you that something is wrong, it’s best to break up the play date before it gets out of hand.

  1. Provide snacks and refreshments

Every good party (paw-ty?) has snacks and refreshments! As long as neither dog shows signs of food aggression, feel free to provide a special treat (as long as it’s okay with the other dog’s owner)- just make sure you are familiar with the foods to avoid feeding to dogs. Be sure to provide both dogs with free access to water.

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