Play Dates For Your Dog – Three Tips To Ensure Success

For our readers who have children, arranging play dates for your child is essential. You wouldn’t think of depriving them of the fun and opportunities for socialization and learning that come with interacting with other children.

The same goes for your dog!

Arranging a doggie play date for your pup is a wonderful opportunity to socialize him. You can plan to meet in your or your friend’s backyard or in a nearby dog park where your dogs can run and play to their hearts’ content. Here are a few tips to ensure success:

One – If both dogs are puppies, chances are they will get along just fine. But if one dog is less than welcoming, then a play date is probably not a good idea. Well matched dog play date partners are ideally close to the same size and age, so their energy levels are likely to be well matched. Also there is less chance of an injury in the rough and tumble tussle of dog play if both dogs are nearly the same size. 

Two – Even though it would likely be more convenient to meet at your home or your friend’s home for a first play date, finding a neutral place, where there will be no territorial issues is best. Ideally this should be fully fenced so the dogs can run and play off leash.

Three – Avoid the temptation to get lost in conversation with your friend as the play date is all about your dog. Watch them carefully, especially body language that might indictate fear or aggression and take appropriate action. If the dogs are not well matched, don’t be hesitant to end the play date early.

But even if you don’t have any dog loving friends that want to have play dates, you can still take advantage of the many dog friendly spaces that are becoming more and more common.

Many of the larger pet stores welcome dogs, incluing PetSmart, which provides poop bags and hand sanitizer in case of an accident. There are also many dog friendly restaurants, with many of them providing patio seating with water bowls and other conveniences for dog owners.

There are also some open-air shopping centers which welcome dogs as well as certain beaches.

But please be sure your dog is leashed and that he is trained to handle a public outing. And if you are unsure that a particular venue is dog friendly, call ahead before your arrival just to make sure. 

There is an ever growing list of apps that will assit you in finding places that your dog is welcome. One of these is Bring Fido, which is available as an app for both iPhone and Android. Bring Fido lets your search for dog friendly restaurants and hotels as well as events near you.

Play date anyone? 

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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