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Best practices for dog socialisation (dog playdates)

Planning a Safe and Happy Dog Playdate

Healthy dog socialisation starts at an early age, but is important for all dogs, young or old. Socialisation sets the groundwork for easy interaction and play as they grow older.

There's a few important things to keep in mind when it comes to dogs playing together...

Top 4 Dog Playdate Elements

1. The Dog
Consider finding another dog close to the same age, weight, size, and overall temperament as your dog. It’s good to note, however, that even big dogs like Great Danes can be gentle giants so this rule doesn’t always apply.

2. Location
In the dog world, meeting on neutral territory is key. The location you choose should be a place you’ve never (or rarely) taken your dog to. Dogs are territorial and if it is a place they feel is their own, they can get possessive, which could escalate to aggression or even a fight.

3. Exercise First
Before any dog playdate, make sure you exercise your pet (e.g. a ten minute walk for example) so he is at ease and less excitable when he encounters new dogs.

4. Leash or No Leash?
This rule depends on the situation. On some occasions, it’s best to have a leash, while you can relax the rules a bit for others. If you’re walking to a park to meet up, a leash should be used. When meeting the other dog, the leash should be loose, not tight. Your dog may feel a little threatened initially and a taut leash can enhance this feeling. Keeping a loose leash, while walking alongside, is a good way to introduce other walking companions.

Going to an off-leash dog park with your dog wearing a leash is a bad idea. Imagine it from your dog’s point of view: strange dogs are rushing toward you and you can't move about as you please. Keeping your dog on a leash causes increased anxiety, which other dogs can sense too. If you're uncomfortable with bringing your pup to a dog park unleashed, it may be best to go to another location instead.

Other Elements to Consider for a Dog Playdate

5. Water Breaks
Playing about can make your dog thirsty! Remember to keep your pet well hydrated and let them take a break occasionally.

6. Responsible Supervision
Remember, you are here to supervise your dog. Play can occasionally escalate to a fight, so keep a look out for rigid, focused movements. If possible, read up on  canine body language before going.

7. Toys or No Toys?
Base this decision on your dog’s demeanor when it comes to toys. If your dog gets possessive with a toy, keep the toys at home. Let them play first and get to know each other before introducing a toy or other cherished item.

Keep the Playdates Going

Schedule future playdates regularly. When dogs stop interacting with each other, they can lose some of their new skills. Enlist the help of online social networks or local pet forums, where you can schedule group outings. Your dog will cherish all of the time spent exercising and interacting with you and with his newfound mates.

Thankyou for reading,

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