Dogs are social animals that need lots of companionship and enrichment. But have you ever gotten the feeling that your dog needs a furry friend of his own kind? Another dog to play with that gets their language and mannerisms. Well, we have good news for you. You don’t have to go out and get a second dog. Instead, you can arrange a playdate!
But before you head off to find another doggie friend, there is a right and wrong way to do it. Today we are going to give you 10 tips for a successful playdate for your dog. Trust us. You are going to want to pay close attention to this.
#1 Basic Training
The best tip for a puppy play date is to teach your dog basic commands. It’s a good idea for all dogs in the playdate to know things like sit, stay, some, and leave it. These simple commands could relieve a lot of tension when your dogs are meeting for the first time. And they will prove to be handy in every playdate. At the very least, it will give your dog a step in the right direction of social behavior and appropriate play behavior.
#2 Understand Your Dog’s Body Language
All too often, pet parents don’t understand how dogs play and signs of distress. They might mistake casual play with aggression. Or, on the opposite end, dog owners might have an unruly dog that takes things too far for comfort. If you introduce your dog to new friends, you need to know dog body language. With it, early socialization will be a breeze.
A few common body languages to look for are:
- Stiff movements: typically a sign of an uncomfortable puppy. As long as your dog relaxes after a few minutes, all is fine.
- Licking lips: Dogs who excessively lick their lips are uncomfortable and are considered high bite risk.
- Suddenly stopping: If your dog suddenly stops all movements and becomes ridged, it is tensing for a possible fight. Your dog isn’t ok with the situation and is defensive.
- Raised hackles: People often mistake raised hair on the back as aggressive behavior. But that isn’t always so. It could result from overexcitement, but it is aggression if combined with growling or stiffness.
Not all dogs behave in the same ways. So all owners need to know their dogs and see signs of vulnerability before it gets too far. And it’s equally important to know your dog’s play styles and dislikes. Knowing these will help you gauge if the playdate is going well.
#3 Find Similar Dog Friends
Not every dog will love all dogs. It is perfectly normal for your dog to be picky about its friends, and you should be too. For the best fit, new friends should be about the same age and size as your dog. You don’t want a large adult dog with a tiny puppy because that would be intimidating. And if the female dogs are unfixed, it helps to have a dog of the same gender to prevent accidents when they come of age.
Another aspect to consider is choosing a dog with a similar energy level to yours. A hyper dog won’t be much fun to docile older dogs, and vice versa. We know what you are thinking. This seems like an impossible task to find another dog with that much in common. But we assure you it’s possible to find the perfect match.
#4 Neutral Location
Next on our 10 Tips For A Successful Playdate For Your Dog is about location. You don’t want your dog to meet a new dog on one another’s territory. It could make the dogs protective and unwilling to play nicely. But you also don’t want to do it in high distraction areas like the dog park.
The best place for the first few playdates is a fenced-in yard where neither dog has been before. This could be a relative’s backyard, a fenced-in park with no one around, or a tennis court. New places are the key here. These areas will give your dog somewhere safe to explore and still interact with the new dog. And they are large enough for big dogs to play without overcrowding.
#5 Watch The Dogs Carefully
Dog fights can happen in the blink of an eye. You will need to keep a close eye on the dogs at all times. That means no cell phone, walking away, or talking too much with the other pet owners. All it takes is for a moment of inattention to miss the signs that something is going wrong.
And this rule isn’t just for the first few playdates. It isn’t uncommon for dogs to suddenly not like each other anymore. Even dogs that grow up in the same house can have bad days or decide they can’t stand each other anymore. So any time you have a doggie play date, you and the dog’s owner should never let them leave your sight.
#6 Don’t Be Afraid To Leave Early
The best tip we can give you today is don’t be afraid to call off a date early. Not every meet-up will be the perfect match, even if you do everything right. And trying to force a friendship will only stress the dogs, and owners, even more. So if things aren’t going well, it’s ok to walk away.
#7 Don’t Helicopter
We know, we know. We just got done saying not to keep your eyes off of your dog. But that doesn’t mean you need to be right between the dogs. Instead, back off but stay close by. Sometimes when owners get too close, it will make dogs nervous. Let them have a little space to play and get to know each other.
#8 Don’t Bring Toys (At Least At First)
10 tips for a successful playdate for your dog should always include talking about toys. Dog’s can be notoriously possessive of toys. They don’t like to share their toys with strangers, and it could lead to fights. One dog might hog the toys and growl any time the other comes near. You will find that dogs are like three-year-old human toddlers, yes, even senior dogs. Everything is theirs, even if they weren’t playing with it.
So until you know if the dogs get along, you shouldn’t introduce toys. And when you feel it is time, introduce them slowly. But never bring in favorite toys. Keep a watch that no one is getting possessive or left out. When used correctly, toys are a great way to dispel energy and prevent other fights.
#9 Take Breaks From Play
Dog’s need a break from playing more regularly than you think, especially if they hit it off and play hard. So don’t forget to bring water and pull your dog aside for a drink every 10-15 minutes. That way, both dogs are refreshed, take a small break, and then get back to playing.
These breaks aren’t just for hydration, though. It also prevents your dog from getting overly excited. The more excitement your dog has isn’t always a good thing. In some cases, a tired dog could lead to stress and irritability. So take plenty of breaks to give your dog time to relax and cool down. And don’t forget a few treats and praise to encourage more good behavior.
A good way to prevent irritability is to keep the first few dates short to avoid the same things. Start with 20-30 minute playdates, then slowly add 10 minutes until the date is as long as you’d like them to be.
#10 Burn Off Energy First
If you have an overly energetic dog, you might want to take them for a quick walk first. These walks will burn excess energy and help calm the first meet and greet down a bit. If your dog is too excited, it could cause miscommunication with a new dog that is unsure. And two dogs that have too much energy to burn could be a recipe for disaster.
So Where Do I Find Another Dog For A Playdate?
These puppy play dates don’t happen by accident. And it might take several meet and greets before you find the perfect match for your new puppy. And there is nothing wrong with that. But you might be wondering where you sign up for these dates. Is there a club no one told you about? Here are a few of the best places to find a new dog friend.
- The dog park
- A dog training class
- Local want ads
- Facebook groups for dogs in your city (maybe even for your specific breed)
- Your vet’s office
- Co-workers, neighbors, family, or a friend’s dog
- The groomer
- Doggy Daycare and boarding facilities
- On walks
- Or any other case of dog interactions
Don’t be afraid to speak up and talk to other fellow dog owners. Chances are they love the idea as much as you do.
Now You Are Ready For Your Date!
With these 10 tips for a successful playdate for your dog, you are fully prepared. Your dog will feel your confidence and become a confident dog as well. Other owners will also love your curiosity and knowledge to make a date go well. And soon, your dog will have a best friend.
Below is a Pinterest-friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Doodle Board!