Dogs are social animals and are often referred to as pack animals due to their social nature. Regular interaction with other dogs and human beings is essential for the development of a happy and healthy dog. Playdates cultivate confidence and the well-being of your dog. It helps reinforces appropriate play behaviors’ in a safe environment. Isolated dogs who only interact with their own family tend to be high strung and very vocal around other animals and people. Playdates are an outlet for excessive energy that ensures your dog is less likely to display destructive behaviors such as self-mutilation or rummaging through the trash. The release of pent up energy makes your dog more focused during the day and attentive to you.
Are playdates for your dog?
Not all dogs may appropriately interact with other dogs. Playdates are an exciting social life for a dog who is new to the scene. First, honestly evaluate your dog and the social situation you are considering before socializing your dog with other pets.
If your dog is aggressive, extremely submissive, or afraid of other dogs, subjecting him/ her to a playdate would be inappropriate. Instead, opt first to take the proper steps with a trainer or dog behaviorist to establish the root of the behavior inconsistency and manage it.
Geriatric dogs should not be socialized in big groups nor with extremely active or stressful playdates. Inactive dogs simply enjoy a walk in the park or around the block to keep him happy. Watching other dogs play while relaxing outdoors with his owner is another brilliant way to keep him entertained.
Young puppies must be vaccinated appropriately and have a clean bill of health from a certified vet before socializing with new dogs. Start slowly with just another puppy before taking him to a busy park. A friendly playdate at home with a friend’s dog is an excellent start for a puppy.
Healthy and active dogs are more viable for the active and busy social engagements that playdates offer. Ensure your dog is well behaved and obedient before introducing him to these social engagements. Playdates are the perfect means to entertain and exercise your energetic and well-behaved dog.
Why should you take your dog out on a play date?
Dog owners love spending time with their furry friends so much so that they think their dogs only want to spend time with just them. Dog owners need to realize that dogs need to interact with each other and not just with them. Being social animals, dogs want to expand their circle and meet new dogs.
Here are reasons why you should take your dog on playdates:
Learn social skills
Exposing your dog to other dogs obliges him to communicate with more than just barking. It encourages the use of their body language to communicate, which is a healthy and smart progression in behavior. They learn to be around other dogs and to play fair. Playdates teach your dog to be more approachable and more accepting of other people who enter your household.
Learn to share
A dog is either the alpha or omega in their household. But when under the same roof with several other dogs, these roles shift. The alpha dog who hogs his toys learns to share because he is no longer in charge. Sharing toys helps manage strong independent tendencies in dogs and allows them to be more open when playing. As a result, play dates relieve owners from the pressure and need to train their dogs and letting their nature take care of such a discipline.
Reinforces appropriate behavior
During playtime, it is acceptable for dogs to bite and nip at each other. However, biting becomes a problem when a dog is bitten too hard that he stops playing for a while before engaging again in the fun and games. This teaches the “offender” a harsh lesson that biting hard is not acceptable, and they should be gentler. Interrupting playtime, in turn, helps adjust any poor behavior at home that involves too much aggression. Doggy play dates aide in changing behavior that is inappropriate and reinforces good ones.
Things to consider before having a doggie play date
Mandatory vaccination shots
When planning for a playdate, it is crucial to ensure all pets involved have had their proper vaccines before the playdate. For young pups, by the fourth month, most of them will have had all their shots. In case one of the puppies or dogs isn’t vaccinated, consider having the playdate in a secured area rather than the public domain. Ensure the other dog owners know that your dog’s vaccinations are up to date, and he is healthy, and hopefully, they should respond to their dogs’ health and vaccination status.
Playmates should be similar in size to your dog. A Doberman, for example, is a sweet dog, and so is a Chihuahua, but due to sheer size, the bigger dog may unintentionally hurt the smaller dog. Disregarding how friendly and fun-loving both dogs may be, the size of the dog dramatically affects their interaction.
Temperament generally refers to your dog’s mental characteristics or personality. If your dog is confident and assertive, brave, and curious, pairing him with a shy dog afraid of noise and movement wouldn’t be the greatest idea. Pairing dogs with fairly the same temperament ensures they all enjoy and look forward to future socialization.
The age difference between dogs intending to be socialized shouldn’t be too vast. An energized puppy would drive a mature dog crazy with games. Some senior dogs may tolerate the young puppy but may snap at him when he’s had enough. It is essential, though, to introduce your dog to older and younger dogs.
What types of doggy dates are there?
Never having taken your canine to a doggie play date, you are probably wondering what kinds of playdates are there. Here is an enlightening view on types of doggie playdates:
Take your dog to the nearest dog park and even have a friend meet you with their dog. Dogs and their owners can enjoy and benefit from exercising together outdoors. Alternatively, you could just sit with your friend and simply watch people and their pets milling around you. Watching other pets and people familiarizes your dogs with new sounds, strangers, and smells.
It entails taking the leash off your dog to allow him to play around and being close enough to ensure playtime goes on safely. A supervised playdate assists you to interact with other dogs and their owners, familiarize yourself with appropriate play behavior, and determine your position on playdates. A majority of dog daycares offer this kind playdate to aide in socializing your dog.
Canine internet matchmaking sites
Yes! Shocking, isn’t it? There are online dating sites for dogs. These sites aide pet owners to match dogs depending on their breed, size, and energy level. They are quite similar to human dating sites. They have the owner’s profiles and the pet’s photo to help find the best match for playtime and friendships. Such sites include PlaydateApp.com, Matchpuppy.com, and Doggiesmatch.com, among others.
Meet up groups
Meetup.com provides a platform to find and establish dog playgroups around your locale. It helps you select the size, breed, dog-related social issues/events, and such vital details. The search engine also allows you to join groups tailored towards pet owners’ interests, such as if they enjoy hiking, are wine lovers, or single. It is an excellent way to learn about your dog breed characteristics, especially for first-time dog owners.
Tips on having a successful doggy play date
Know what your dog likes
Knowing your dog’s likes is the secret wand to fantastic playdates; understand what your dog likes and does not like. First, you should be aware of how your dog reacts to other canines and have an idea of how he wants to connect with other dogs. Puppies are easy to interact with as their play styles are flexible and fun compared to mature dogs. Adult dogs, on the other hand, have defined and rigid play behaviors; hence their matchup during playdates needs a bit of re-thinking every so often.
Choose play partners wisely
A great play pal is one close in size and age to your dog. Closeness in age and size eliminates the risk of one dog getting overwhelmed by the other dog’s energy levels or weight. The intensity of dog on dog play and games dictates there’s a high possibility of an accidental injury if one dog is still gentle but a giant compared to a smaller dog.
The best play date locations are safe for off the leash play. A neutral location means the site of the date should be fully fenced or a safe indoor spot large enough for all the spectrums of the game and that don’t belong to either dog to avoid territorial issues.
Often than not, despite finding the perfect location and play buddies, things may not go as planned. Either due to different play styles, lack of a “spark” or mismatched personalities, dogs may just not be into each other. When dogs aren’t excited about hanging out or aren’t playing appropriately, it is okay to end the play session. It may feel like a downer after putting in so much effort, but it does take time to find the right match.
Allow the dogs to set the pace
Tempting as it might be, do not try to stage-manage the fun. It’s essential to allow the canines to explore their environment and set a pace for their interaction by themselves. Take time to properly introduce the dogs to one another and let them initiate games without your interference. Acknowledge appropriate interactions and play with praise and doggy treats. Allow the pets to decode their new-made friends independently without your supervision or management.
Learn their body language
Dog play often sounds and looks a lot scarier than it is. Well-intentioned pet owners have sometimes interrupted fair play due to concern about the intensity because they do not understand what is happening. Therefore, pet owners need to learn and understand what the dogs are saying to each other as they play. A better understanding of proper and improper play will ensure the dogs are safe and maximize.
Have water breaks
Dog play is vigorous, and scheduled water breaks are vital. Have a clean water supply and a bowl. Proper hydration helps your dog to re-energize fast and keep him playing for longer. If possible, avoid carrying the one your dog uses at home to prevent resource guarding. This is just in case the other dogs want a sip from the same bowl at the same time. Sharing a water bowl during water breaks can be a great bonding experience for dogs.
Supplement playtime with toys
Spicing up play dates with toys is a great way to diversify the interaction between your dog and the others. Toys, however, shift the focus of the play. For some dogs, it is a welcomed accessory that adds dimension to the game, while for other dogs, it’s a prize to guard. Before tossing the toy, make sure all the dogs have a clue as to the game variation to avoid a dog hoarding toys for himself. If you notice one dog is going after another when he gets too close to the toy, then reclaim it to prevent escalating the aggression.
Some dogs are characteristically shy or introverted, but with time, they eventually come out of their shell. Don’t force him to play and try exposing your dog to a gentle, easy-going dog first before diving into a more engaging playdate.
Implementing these strategies during and before play dates will ensure your dog enjoys some of the most fun experiences. Socialization is vital for the well-being of your dog as it equips him with the ability to develop new skills to adapt to new experiences positively hence reducing stress.