How To Plan Fun Play Dates For Dogs
Playtime! What doggie doesn’t enjoy running around and having a ball with their favourite toys and their best pal – that’s you! To take your pup’s playtime to the next level, planning a fun play date with another dog is sure to get their tail wagging with joy.
Not only does it give your dog a chance to run around with other dogs and keep them well-socialised, but they’ll also get a pawsome physical and mental workout too.
Planning a play date for your dog is especially fun if your furry friend doesn’t have other pups to play with at home. However, there are a few things to consider when planning your dog’s pawfect play date to ensure they’re having heaps of fun and staying safe too.
Keep reading for our top tips for organising fun play dates for your dog.
Why are play dates for dogs important?
The element of fun and, of course, play in play date interactions will undoubtedly boost your dog’s health both physically and mentally. Social enrichment and stimulation are the key elements of what goes into training a dog into a friendly and disciplined canine companion.
Although at first play dates can be daunting for your dog, to soothe any nerves, we recommend Yappy's calming supplements, which are veterinarian-formulated calming aids, packed full of natural ingredients to help with anxiety.
When can my dog start having play dates?
One of the most popular questions new dog owners ask is when they can start introducing their puppy to other furry friends.
While this topic is often debated, dogs should generally start socialising within the first three months of their lives, provided they’ve had their puppy vaccinations and are meeting other dogs and people in safe, healthy environments. The earlier you can start planning play dates for your pup, the better as it’s a great way to ensure your pooch is well-socialised.
Planning a fun play date for your dog in 6 simple steps
1. Recognise your dog’s style of play
Nobody knows your dog better than you, so you’ll know how they like to play. The first thing to consider when setting up a play date for your dog is understanding their likes and dislikes and how they behave around other pooches. If they’re particularly nervous, aggressive, or anything other than welcoming to other pooches, then it’s important to work on this behaviour before bringing other doggies into the mix.
If your dog likes to play chase and they’re paired with a pooch who prefers to wrestle, then you may want to re-think their play partner.
If you’re trying to socialise a puppy then you might not be aware of their playing style just yet but don’t worry – pups that are similar in size and age are likely to play well together, especially as they’re less stuck in their ways than older pooches!
2. Choose your dog’s pawfect match
Picking the pawfect match for your dog is super important to the success of their playdate. While it may seem easy to simply invite along your best pal and their dog, sadly this doesn’t mean that your pooches will automatically get along. If the two dogs have completely different personalities and styles of play, this may not be the best decision.
Instead, consider what kind of pooch your dog would play well with. This could be a dog your pooch has previously met at the park, or it could be the dog of a friend, family, or co-worker.
Picking a dog that has a similar energy level to your pup, and is similar in age, breed, and size is a good place to start.
3. Choose a dog-friendly space
Now it’s time to pick a location for your dog’s play date. While you may want to keep things local and host the meetup at your home, this isn’t always the best option as some pups are territorial on their own turf, and your dog may act out on a first meeting. To avoid this, aim for a neutral but safe environment like a quiet dog park.
As many dog parks are enclosed spaces, or large enough for a good run around, they’re a fantastic place to host a play date for your pup. Plus, it means that your dog can safely enjoy off-lead play.
Speaking of which – it’s important to make sure that you know if all dogs present are confident on or off the lead. And, if you’re on the market for the right lead and collar for your dog, then be sure to browse our range of stylish and practical leads and collars to find the pawfect accessory for your pooch. We also have lots of fun bandanas if your pup is a true fashionista!
4. Playtime! Let the dogs lead the way
It’s time for the play date to commence! When introducing your dog to a new furry friend, it’s important to take things slowly and avoid forcing either dog into a situation they’re not comfortable with. It’s wise to start the dogs on their leads at first as they sniff and greet each other. Then, when they’re comfortable, they can be let off their leads.
Watch the dogs closely but let them lead their play session - they may want to launch into a full-on acrobatic play session, chase each at full speed, or simply sniff each other and their surroundings.
This relaxed approach will help the dogs feel more at ease with the situation and they should soon be happily playing together and having fun.
5. Keep an eye on your dog’s body language
Hopefully, choosing the pawfect play partner and location will mean your dog’s play date goes smoothly. However, you can’t always predict how well a play date will go.
It’s important to keep a close eye on your dog’s body language as they play and look out for any signs of aggression. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if dogs are playing or fighting, but some signs of aggression include baring teeth and growling. If you notice your dog growing tired or getting agitated, then there’s no harm in keeping the play session short and sweet.
When the play date is over, give your pup some praise and cuddles for playing well – you could even reward them with a few yummy dog treats.
If your dog is particularly nervous, then you can help keep your canine calm with Yappy’s calming soft bites. These gentle chews can be eaten like a treat and contain a blend of natural ingredients, which work together to relieve anxiety and promote calm and relaxed behaviour.
6. Don’t furget the essentials
When planning a play date for dogs in the park, taking along some doggy treats never goes amiss! You could pack your pup’s favourite treats in their very own treat tin and stash them in a doggie tote bag that’s emblazoned with their own face – how cute! Just don’t forget to ask other owners if you’re allowed to give their dogs some treats too.
Yappy to help
We hope this blog post has made you feel more confident when it comes to planning fun play dates for your dog. For more guidance, make sure to check out our helpful post on how to teach dogs to play together.