If your dog doesn’t have any four-legged siblings to play with at home, you may want to consider arranging a playdate with another furry pal. Dog playdates are enriching activities for a few different reasons: they offer opportunities for physical exercise, mental stimulation, socialization, and fun!
That said, not all dogs are created equal. You’ll want to do some planning and take the proper precautions to ensure your dog’s playdate is a success. Read on for some expert suggestions on planning the perfect playdate for your pup.
Step 1: Consider Your Dog’s Preferences.
You’re planning this whole thing for Fido’s benefit, so it’s only logical that you first consider his personality and play styles.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Does your dog have experience playing with other pets?
Does your dog have a history of getting aggressive, possessive, or territorial around other dogs?
Does your dog tend to stay cautious when first introduced to new situations, or does he like to jump right in?
Can your dog handle roughhousing, or does he need a gentler playmate?
- Is your dog trained to follow basic commands?
Once you have a good idea of how your dog likes to play, you can start thinking about a potential match for his playdate.
Step 2: Choose Your Dog’s Playmate.
You and your best friend may be a perfect match, but are your dogs? A dog being familiar to you doesn’t necessarily make that dog a good choice as your pup’s playmate.
Be intentional when selecting a playmate for your pooch—don’t just schedule a playdate with the first dog that pops into mind. Look for the following:
Similar personality and play styles. If one dog wants to take his time getting comfortable with his surroundings and the other dog wants to jump right into a wrestling match, things may not go so well.
Similar size, age, and energy levels. Even if both dogs have similar play styles, you’ll want to avoid any potential injuries or tense situations if things get out of hand.
- A dog that’s relatively calm, friendly, trained, and socialized. (Make sure this also applies to your dog, too!)
Whether your pup’s playmate is a friend or family member’s dog, or a dog he met at the dog park, it’s important to make sure the two doggos are compatible.
Step 3: Choose a Neutral Location.
It may seem convenient to simply schedule a puppy playdate in your own backyard, but you may want to think again.
Anytime you introduce your dog to another pet, it’s important to do so in a neutral location—especially one or both dogs have tendencies to get territorial. It can be hard to predict how Fido will react when there’s suddenly another dog on his turf, so it’s best to avoid tense situations as much as possible.
Sometimes, it can be as simple as walking together in a neutral location and then going to one person’s home once the dogs are acquainted; sometimes the entire playdate needs to be on neutral ground in order to go smoothly. Talk to the other dog owner in question to figure out the best course of action based on each of your dog’s personalities and histories.
If you can’t or don’t want to hang out at home, research dog-friendly venues in your area: a public park, dog park, or beach, for example. Wherever you choose to go, make sure there’s access to plenty of water and shade.
Step 4: Don’t Force It.
As excited as you may be about your dog making a new friend, remember to take it slow. Let the dogs decide if they want to play or spend more time getting acquainted… or whether they even like each other in the first place.
Let the doggos choose how they want to play. Don’t intervene by trying to get them to play a certain way or by tossing toys into this mix. (In fact, it’s probably a good idea to avoid favorite toys altogether at first, since this could result in some possessive behavior.)
That said, it’s important to keep a close eye on things and intervene when things are getting dicey. This could mean taking away a toy or object that they’re fighting over, or using commands such as “drop it” and “come here” if Fido’s getting a bit too riled up and needs a break.
Step 5: Quit While You’re Ahead.
If one dog is still going strong but the other is getting a bit too tuckered out, it’s probably time to press pause. If the energetic dog isn’t picking up on cues that the other one needs a break, you could end up in a tense situation.
Things can change quickly, so don’t lose focus on your dog—no matter how good your conversation with the other dog owner may be. If you notice any signs that your dog is feeling anxious or uncomfortable, it’s probably time to end the playdate. After all, you want the association with the experience to be positive overall.
Keep your dog calm and stress-free with Pet Honesty’s Premium Hemp Calming Chews. These gentle, non-sedating soft chews use a blend of natural ingredients including hemp, melatonin, and chamomile to soothe your pooch during potentially stressful situations.