Puppy play dates can be one of the most fun things to do as a dog parent!
These play dates allow your puppy to have fun, burn energy, and gain necessary social skills. However, setting up a successful puppy play date with your dog’s new best friend will take some planning.
Choosing a puppy playmate that will be well suited for your puppy, especially for their first play date, is a must!
Finding a puppy who is around the same size and temperament would be ideal. For example, if you know your puppy loves to run and chase, try finding a puppy who also loves to run and chase!
Also, if you are unsure about your puppy’s play style, finding a puppy about the same age is always a good place to start because they can learn together!
Now, to find the right play date environment! It is best to schedule your puppy’s play date in a neutral place, like a park or a fully fenced area.
That way, the puppies can play without having the added factor or potential stress of having a new friend in their safe space. Having their play date in a neutral environment can also remove any potential guarding issues that your puppy may show.
Once you have found the perfect meeting place, you will need to ensure that you have the supplies and equipment needed to set up the space.
For example, to set each puppy up for success, we recommend setting up an xpen so that each dog can greet each other at the fence and then retreat away from the other puppy if they are overwhelmed.
Make sure you bring treats! Rewarding your puppy when they have positive interactions with the other puppy will help them feel more confident. With treats present, you can also reward your puppy for other behaviors, like responding to their name or coming when called! Continue to use treats to reward your puppy throughout the play date.
Once your puppies have interacted through the xpen and seem comfortable, you can open up the xpen and let them interact in the same space.
It is important to let your puppies go at their own pace; you should not force the interaction. Some puppies take a little longer to come out of their shell than others!
Once the puppies are comfortable, they will run and play in no time!
Watch the video below to see the progression of Tart the Aussie and Breaker the Keeshond’s play date!
Remember to keep your puppy play dates short and sweet! When puppies get too tired, they can become cranky and have less tolerance for their new playmate.
After puppy play dates, you would move on to the next step in puppy socialization, Puppy Classes!
Puppy class is a great way to socialize your pup with a small group of dogs. They also learn self-control by learning to focus on you during training while other dogs are present.