You know that introducing your puppy to both new humans and new dogs is crucial to proper socialization. A puppy play date is a great way to help with that early socialization process.
There are some things, however, you should prepare for before having a puppy play date with a neighbor, family member, or friend’s dog. Both your puppy and their prospective playmate may be fantastic pooches, but there are still a few things you should ask the other owner ahead of time.
The answers to these questions will help you prepare and make sure your puppy’s play date will be safe and fun. Here’s are five things you should ask before inviting another pooch over to play.
1. Has Everyone Had Their Mandatory Vaccination Shots?
It may seem invasive, but it is important to make sure both parties have their proper vaccines before a puppy play date. Depending on your pup’s age, they may not have all of their vaccinations yet.
Most pups have all of their shots completed by four months, and the critical months for socializing start at eight weeks. Well, how are you supposed to set up a play date if they haven’t had all of their shots, you ask?
As long as your puppy and their playmate are in a secured area, such as your fenced backyard, and not a public area where they can be exposed to germs, such as a local dog park, your pup should be able to safely be socialized.
2. What’s Your Dog’s Play Style?
While it’s obvious that nearly all puppies are playful, that doesn’t mean they all like to play in the same way. Some puppies like to get physical and playfully nip. Others would rather cautiously sniff each other and engage in lighter play.
It’s important to ask a potential puppy play date partner what their puppy’s play style is. By no means do you want to limit your puppy to meeting dogs that are exactly like them, but you want to make sure you aren’t bringing a shy, timid, puppy into a situation where they’ll feel terrified of a highly energetic, physical puppy.
3. What’s Your Dog’s Age And Sex?
Introducing your puppy to other puppies is important, but it’s equally important to introduce them to older dogs and dogs of the opposite sex, as well.
If the dog you want to set up a play date with is the same sex and close in age with your pup, you may have to intervene if the two do not take to each other. Dogs of the same sex and age are more prone to aggression than dogs of the opposite sex.
4. Is Your Pup Spayed Or Neutered?
Most puppies can be spayed or neutered at eight weeks of age if they’re healthy. However, sometimes vets may recommend waiting a little longer in certain circumstances.
If neither of your dogs have had the spay or neuter procedure yet, watch closely in case you need to intervene if there’s mounting–or in the case of same sex pairs, aggression.
Or, to be completely safe, you can opt to have a puppy play date with a spayed or neutered puppy, instead.
5. What Kind Of Treats Does Your Pup Eat?
When first introducing two puppies or any two dogs on a play date, it’s important to be able to reward generously for healthy and fun interaction.
If the one dog seems to need a break from the other, lure your pup with treats and give the two a break for a while before reintroducing them. If they’re playing well together, be sure to reward them with treats, as long as neither of the dogs have a particular issue with guarding.
Having puppy play dates is a vital step in properly socializing your puppy. If you’ve asked all of these questions and you still feel like something is off about the play date, it is okay go with your instinct and opt out of the play date.
Just be sure to find a puppy playmate who works for your puppy to insure they grow into a happy, secure, and calm adult dog.
Have you ever had a puppy play date? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below!