Pets bring people together. There’s nothing that bonds you better than a much loved animal, and our fur-babies often make great ice-breakers. A wonderful part of being a pet-parent is sharing that with other like-minded folk. The humble puppy play-date is great for all involved, as a social outlet for you and your pet.
While it’s an excellent opportunity to introduce your dog to others in a supervised environment, a smooth and stress-free play date does require preparation. We’ve put together a few of our best tips on planning a meet-up that is all about maximum fun and minimum fights.
Finding The Perfect Match:
First up, you have to find another dog for your play-date! While you may already have other pet-parent friends, this isn’t always the case. To open yourself up to great social opportunities with like-minded people, touch base with friends, family, neighbours and co-workers, explore options on meet-up apps and websites or enquire at your local vet, dog trainer or puppy preschool. There are often lots of other pet owners in the same position, so get out there and make that puuuuur-fect new pal.
You Know Your Pet Best:
Pre- play date, you need to think about your pet’s boundaries and how they generally fare around other dogs. It’s important to follow your instincts and to know your own pup’s temperament and energy levels enough that you can find a suitable match. It can be slightly awkward to navigate, but ultimately you need to trust your judgement and feel comfortable saying no if you don’t think your dog and theirs are going to be a match made in heaven. It’s all about what is best for your fur-baby, right?!
If you’ve got a really young pooch, then check in with your vet for advice on the best way to socialise puppies who aren’t fully vaccinated. Don’t be shy about asking potential play date pet-owners about their dog’s vaccinations. You need to be confident that they’re worm and flea-free with all the necessary shots.
Location, Location, Location:
It can be a good idea to host a puppy play date at a neutral location at first. A dog may get uncomfortable if they feel their territory is being taken over, so easing into it at another location can be a great start. Check out our directory of pet-friendly places in your local area below:
If you are going to host at your home, remove your pet’s food, treats and toys. This will ensure they won’t be as threatened by another dog coming into their space. Neutral toys can be helpful in providing something to play with. But make sure neither dog has guarding issues before you bring them out.
On The Day:
Let the dogs greet each other and get acquainted as they want to. You need to use proper protocol here, keeping them on-leash until you’re satisfied they are safe and comfortable. Supervision is essential – but don’t force any interactions or manage the play. Instead, observe their body language and look for any warning signs in your dog’s behaviour. Don’t feel like you have to continue the play date if these red flags present themselves.
Make sure your dogs can take breaks and have plenty of water and shade. It’s a good idea to practice recall before the play date, so you’re confident your pup will respond quickly. Most of all, make sure YOU relax! With the nerves that come with making sure your pooch has a great play-date, you can end up holding onto tension. Your pet is attuned to your moods and will sense any nervous energy. Project the cool, calm and collected demeanour you want them to adopt, and watch them follow suit!