Dogs are generally social animals. They often like to get together with other dogs to play. This is good for their psychological well-being, and it typically involves running around, so they get exercise, too. Here are some tips for planning “playdates” for your dog.
First, assess your dog’s overall personality. He or she is surely a “type.” Just like with people, dogs have their types. Is yours slow and serious? Fun and frisky? Dominating and strong-willed? Meek and shy? The better you know what type of dog you have, the more likely you are to match it up with another dog who “makes sense” as their new friend. Do consider your dog’s age and size, too, because it’s best to match them up with other dogs who are about the same age, size and personality. A tiny teacup poodle and a giant Saint Bernard wouldn’t make sense for a playdate. Two terriers, though, would. So plan accordingly.
Next, pick a neutral spot for the playdate. Rather than encroach on one dog’s turf, it’s better for them to meet on neutral ground. Typically, communities have dog parks for this very purpose. Fenced in areas (such as tennis courts) work well, too.
Also, once your dog is at their playdate with another dog, see how they’re either getting along well… or not. If the two just don’t seem to “hit it off” together, don’t feel like you’ve failed! Just agree with the other dog owner that your dogs aren’t that into each other and that’s okay. Just like with human dating, some dog playdates go really well and the dogs want to see each other again, while others decide after the first date to move on.
Finally, even though you, as an owner, want to involve yourself on your dog’s playdate, this is really a time for the dog to do their own thing, choosing what it wants to do when it wants to do it. Therefore, let your dog play at their own pace, interacting with other dogs naturally rather than being forced. Don’t be a helicopter dog parent.