One of the most important aspects of having a healthy pet is proper socialization.
Where to Start?
There are a number of ways to make sure your dog is comfortable interacting with humans and other dogs and to help him adjust to the world around him. That process is called socialization and it happens while spending one-on-one time with dogs, usually, at their age.
Puppy play dates are a great way to introduce your pooch to other pets and safely monitor their behavior and interactions in the process.
But how do you find another dog owner who is as interested in swapping puppy play time as you are? Here are a few ideas those of us here at The Barking Lot came up with.
A great place to begin your search for a play date could be as simple as asking the people you know – family, friends and neighbors.
These are people that you’re close to and who most likely know your pet. Spending time with the ones you love creates a special bonding experience that you may not have otherwise formed without your dogs around.
The dog park is great place to just sit and observe other dogs in a natural state. Not only is this an ideal way to strike up a conversation with other pet lovers, but an opportunity to find out which pup might also benefit from play time in a smaller setting.
Now that you’ve found a play mate, there are a few things you want to know before setting up the date.
How Does Your Dog’s Friend Play?
How exactly does the other dog play? Is your dog’s new friend shy or more apt to sniff around during lighter play? Or is he the rough and tumble sort of pup? Your goal is to ensure that your pet has a great experience this time around so that he associates that feeling with his next playdate.
Some pet parents may not know it but the age and sex of your puppy’s playmate matters. It’s important to introduce your dog to other dogs of the same sex and age, but be prepared to intervene if the two show a little aggression toward each other. Hierarchal disputes are common among most dogs but females are prone to more viscous fights than their male counterparts.
It’s best to keep an eye on your dog regardless, especially if things start to heat up.
What You Should Know Before a Playdate
You might think it’s a bit personal to ask if whether your potential puppy play mate has had their vaccinations, but it’s better to err on the side of caution.
Besides, the younger the dog, the more likely it is that he hasn’t had all of his shots – especially since experts recommend that socialization begins at about 8 weeks.
If the first attempt at a successful play date doesn’t go as planned, don’t give up! Remember this is all a part of the training process that your pet will go through.
If things get a little rough, separate the dogs, give them a break and try again. If all else fails, discontinue the date.
It’s always good to know as much about your dog’s potential puppy playmate as possible, that way you ensure the safety and well-being of each pup, while providing a positive experience that stays with them.