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Doggy play dates: how to get them right

07 December 2018

Finding a friend for your canine companion can be great for their social skills and enhance their ability to adapt to new environments.

Here are some simple tips to organise the perfect doggy play date:

Where to look

The best place to start is within your circle of friends and family who have dogs. Since you’re familiar with this group, you’ll have plenty to do while your dog has fun with their new friend. If your pooch takes a liking to another dog in the park, organise your first playdate at the same park and take things from there.

Talk about feelings

Temperament is a critical factor in setting up a successful play date: it’s essential to gauge both dogs’ personalities. A calm dog is, for instance, unlikely to be comfortable with a hyperactive one. Age will also influence the way your dog interacts. For instance, while it’s good for your puppy to get accustomed to bigger, older dogs, it’s advisable to keep these interactions short, so neither of the dogs gets worn out.

The perfect venue

An outdoor play date is the safest option. Set up a space where dogs can rough and tumble to their heart’s content. Provide plenty of toys, such as balls or frisbees, for entertainment.

Avoid policing

Allow the dogs to get to know each other without trying to force the situation. If the first play date doesn't go well, don't give up – simply give it another go a few days later. You'll know it's not a perfect match after three dates.

Actively supervise by watching the dogs’ body language and intervene calmly if there’s a scuffle.

Encourage breaks between playing. Both pet parents should approach at the same time and call the dogs to sit (providing a treat will help) before they can return to playing.

Don’t come empty handed

Naturally, all that fun is likely to work up your fur kid’s appetite. Be prepared to provide plenty of food and water. It’s a good idea to chat to the other pet parent about their fur kid’s dietary needs and whether they mind you sharing your treats with their fur kid. Consider the day a success if your pooch falls soundly asleep afterwards.

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