Summer is here and your pup is ready to mingle!
Your pawfect cutie might be missing quality time with other dogs and those afternoon walks aren’t cutting it.
But how do you plan for the best doggy playdate?
Aside from the first step, which is to pair your pooch with their favorite mate, you might be wondering about location, activities, and treats! If your dog already has a bestie they haven’t seen in awhile or they’re meeting another fur friend for the first time, there are a few things you can do to create a memorable experience.
Picking Your Guest
Does your dog have a buddy they’d love to hang out with –– but due to social distancing, they haven’t seen them in awhile?
Setting up a playdate is a great opportunity to help them reestablish their friendship.
But what if there’s a new dog you’d like your fur baby to get to know? Knowing your dog’s personality is especially important before introducing them to another pup.
Maybe your dog is very high energy, or they are a little more shy and timid.
Consider how they typically behave around other dogs during walks or playtime, and check-in with the other pet parent to discuss any personality differences before scheduling your playdate.
Also consider the dogs’ age differences, temperaments, socialization and if there are multiple dogs.
Picking the Place
The right environment can help set the tone for playdate fun.
If it’s their first time meeting try to choose a neutral location to avoid territorial aggression.
As you are thinking about locations, consider the following:
- If meeting at your home, introduce them on a leash, letting the guest dog(s) in first then introducing the resident dog(s)
- Do not let the dogs roam unsupervised, whether you choose your park, home or another location
- If you’re meeting at a park, make sure the park is dog-friendly and offers safe space for pups to play
- Be mindful of multiple pets in the home. If possible, try to separate them or go to a space where you can safely meet (a neighbor’s yard works as well).
Ideally, you want both dogs –– or multiple –– to feel as comfortable as possible, with room to anticipate all possible scenarios. Of course, anticipate the best! But also, stay mindful if this is a new encounter or if you dog hasn’t been around their friends in awhile.
Pro Tip: Consider locations with shaded areas or benches where you can take a break just in case your dog tires out or they just need a moment away from the fun.
Before it’s time for the pups to play, it’s a good idea to plan some fun games to make their time together as engaging as possible!
In a perfect world, your pup’s meetup will be naturally fun-filled, full of chasing, running, and endless play. But just in case they need something to get to the party started, having some games ready should help.
A few Ideas:
- Water games (think sprinklers or baby pool with toys)
- Scavenger Hunt
- Agility course
- Red Light, Green Light (for well-trained dogs)
Of course you can add some of their other favorites to the list as well.
A good playdate isn’t complete without nutritious, high-value treats! Not only will treats keep dogs ready to play, it’s also a great reward for good behavior during their time together.
Also, Redbarn’s Choppers are a meaty high-protein, low-fat treat that can be broken up into smaller bite-sized pieces as a quick reward.
Whichever treat you decide to take with you, make sure you have enough for everyone.
It also doesn’t hurt to have a long-lasting chew handy for the car ride back home (because who wouldn’t be sad when they have to leave their fur bestie behind?).
Supplies to Keep Handy
Before you head out with your pup (or pups), don’t forget the essentials!
It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re having fun, but on hot days, you’ll always want a fresh bowl of water close by for those much needed water breaks. Pack a small bowl along with some water to help prevent dehydration.
With more water, don’t forget about those potty breaks!
Carrying an extra set of waste baggies doesn’t hurt –– not only is good for the environment, and responsible pet parenting, but if your playdate is outdoors you never know what to expect.
Be sure to also have other necessary items readily available like toys, etc. As a rule of thumb, think about the items you typically take with you when you go out with your dog (leash, medicine, and treats).
Just Have Fun
As a pet parent, you want your dog to be happy and safe.
If you haven’t taken your dog out in a while or you’re nervous about letting them experience a playdate, it’s normal.
Remember, dogs can suffer from separation anxiety, just like humans. Spending time with other dogs will help with socialization and bonding.
But, if your dog, or their buddy, has any behavioral issues such as aggression or severe anxiety, consult your veterinarian or trainer before scheduling a playdate.