Us humans love spending time with our best friends, and dogs are no different.
In fact, it’s really important for dogs to be, well, a dog! This means lots of time spent amongst their four-legged friends, playing, sniffing and generally having a good time – so why not set up a doggy playdate so they can do just that?
- What is a dog playdate?
- Are playdates good for dogs?
- How to introduce dogs for a playdate
- What to do for a doggy playdate?
- How long should a dog playdate be?
- How to find dog playdates
Just like we send our children for playdates with their friends, dog playdates are a great way for our fur babies to make friends, blow off some steam and generally have a good time!
Playdates are a great opportunity to socialise your dog and reinforce positive play behaviour with the help of lots of treats. They are also a great way to teach dogs how to coexist together, when they’re not necessarily playing but just hanging out. This will lead to a more well-rounded, chilled-out dog in the future.
However, it’s worth noting that playdates are a good idea but only as long you set yourselves up for success first. When picking a potential playmate for your dog, it’s important to choose a pup that’s a similar age, size and temperament to your own so they are evenly matched.
For example, a bad match would be two dogs with vast size differences, or a very young dog and a very old dog. As well as this, some dogs can get mouthy when they play and, if matched with a dog that doesn’t enjoy that play style, it could be a recipe for disaster.
While play styles won’t be as set in stone for puppies, it’s generally a good idea to be aware of how your pup likes to have fun and match them with a similar dog – for example, if their preferred play style is wrestling, match them with a dog that does a good impression of a WWE star!
It’s also important to make sure both dogs are up to date with their vaccines – especially if they’re a young pup getting introduced to the big wide world of other dogs.
Now you’ve chosen your dog’s new best friend, it’s time to schedule the playdate.
When you’re planning out where to meet, it’s a good idea to choose a neutral location to avoid any chances of territorial behaviour – so a quiet local park or dog-friendly beach is an ideal option, as is a bookable dog field where they’ll have plenty of space to run wild.
It’s also best to leave any toys or balls at home until you know how each dog will react – this is to reduce the opportunity for resource guarding which would spell an end to the playdate.
When you’re introducing the dogs, let them take the lead. They’ll sniff each other out in their own time and will feel far more relaxed if they can take it at their own pace rather than being forced together.
And when your dogs are in the thick of the puppy playdate, you’ll need to actively supervise them to keep an eye out for any troublesome behaviour. Relaxed, loose and bouncy play is the aim; if either dog is showing any tense body language or defensive behaviour such as pinned ears, low-pitched growling or sharp movements, it’s time to take five or even end the playdate altogether.
There are so many great dog playdate ideas, but here are some of our favourites:
- Water fun – great for a hot day, you can bring out the paddling pool or fill up some water pistols to add some extra fun to an already great playdate.
- Scavenger hunt – hide some extra-stinky treats for your pups to sniff out. Not only will they get a delicious reward, but sniffing helps calm them down too.
- Agility course – get their brains and bodies working with a series of jumps, hoops and weaves made from household items. This activity can also help build confidence too!
- Walkies – it’s old but gold – nothing beats a good W-A-L-K where your two pup pals can follow a trail and sniff out some scents together. Check our guide to the UK’s best dog walks for inspiration
How long a dog playdate should be depends a lot on the dogs playing!
For very young pups who are at the beginning of their socialisation, even a few minutes of play is enough. As you will be actively supervising your dogs, it’s best to keep it short but sweet, with both dogs having some quality playtime and having fun throughout.
If your dogs are getting a bit overexcited or a little tired, make sure you have some fresh water and a shady spot where they can enjoy a bit of a breather.
The easiest way to find dog playdates is to talk to other local dog owners. Whether that’s family and friends, people you see when dog walking, or other dog owners at training or obedience sessions, introduce yourself and your dog and set up some playdates!
Enjoy a holiday with your dog
Speaking of dog-friendly holidays, we have a wide range of pet-friendly holiday cottages that are the perfect setting for spending some quality time with your four-legged best friend. Whether you’re bringing your dog’s best pal along for the ride or making some memories just the two of you, take a look at our full collection of dog-friendly cottages in the UK by clicking the button below.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.