Doggie Play Dates!

PlaydatesDo you sometimes feel a bit anxious in a crowd of people? Is your idea of a good time an evening shared with one or two close friends, rather than in a large group at a party? There are a lot of people like that. Truth is, there are some dogs like that too. Either they find it overwhelming to be around a bunch of other dogs, or they just plain ole don’t enjoy it. We’ve seen dogs come to Holiday Barn Pet Resorts doggy day care for the first time and simply sit by the gate, or by the attendant, without making any effort to play with the other dogs. When we tell their owners, they are disappointed and fear that something is wrong with their dog.

It’s Not Uncommon for Dogs to Dislike the Company of Other Dogs

It’s not all that uncommon for a dog not to enjoy the company of other dogs. Or maybe they enjoy the camaraderie for a little while, but find it a bit too much for a whole day. That’s perfectly normal. Just like us, dogs have different personalities. Your dog may be very well-socialized, pleasant around other dogs and people, but just not interested in playing with a bunch of other dogs. He’s an introvert, and that’s okay. He may not be the best fit for Daycare. Your dog may be better suited for one-on-one play dates.

It’s so much easier to drop your dog off to Holiday Barn Day Care than to try to put together a play date… we agree! But it would be well worth the effort to help your introverted little furchild find a good friend and be able to enjoy the benefits of some healthy playtime. How do you go about doing that? How do you find playmates?

How to Have a Succesful Dog Play Date

Before you start looking, there are a number of things to keep in mind in order to make sure your dog has a successful play date:

      1) Look for playmates similar in size to your dog. Your chihuahua wouldn’t make the best playmate for your best friend’s Doberman, no matter how sweet and fun-loving both dogs are. Larger dogs can unwillingly hurt smaller dogs when at play.
      2) Temperament. What is temperament? It’s your dog’s mental characteristics, or “personality”, if you will. Your dog’s personality may be one of confidence and assertiveness. He is probably brave and curious. Pair that with a dog who is “shy”, perhaps fearful of noise and movement, and you don’t have very good compatibility. Opposites don’t attract in a dog world!
      3) Age. A wild and crazy puppy doesn’t know how to play appropriately with a calm, mature adult dog. A 1-year-old lab would drive your 10-year-old Golden Retriever crazy! Some seniors might tolerate the shenanigans of a young pup for a while, but may snap at him when he’s had enough.
      4) Likewise, find similar energy levels. Some dogs are wound tighter than a drum no matter how old they are! Take a Jack Russel for example. Most Jack’s run and play like pups well into old age. Many in the terrier group are like that. Your laid-back hound would find a wild terrier more annoying than fun.
      5) Breed play styles. Believe it or not, many breeds have specific play styles that do not mix all that well with other breeds. For example, herding breeds like Border Collies and Aussies are wired to do more chasing and herding-type of play. The sporting group, like labs and golden retrievers, prefer full body contact like wrestling.
      6) Health and Vaccinations. Make sure your dog’s playmates are up-to-date on vaccinations and are healthy. This can be kind-of a sticky topic to address with your play mates owner, but an important one, none the less. You can start by assuring them that your dog is up to date on vaccinations, and hopefully their response will be to let you know the same about their dog. If you see any signs of sickness…like a runny nose, foul odor, etc., you may want to rethink that particular playmate.

How to Find a Date for Your Dog

So now you know what to look for, but how to we actually find playmates?

      1) Your neighborhood. While out walking your dog, pay attention to other neighborhood dogs. Look for dogs similar in the size and age of your dog so that they may have comparable energy levels. Then strike up a conversation with their owners. They may love the idea of a play date!
      2) Does your co-worker have pictures of their dog pinned all over their cubicle? In fact, you probably talk “dog” often but have never explored the possibility of meeting for a playdate. Just ask! An after-work “yappy-hour” may be just what you and your dogs need!
      3) Your dog groomer and Veterinarian could be great resources in helping you find a playmate for your pup. He/she works with many local dogs and could possibly make a good recommendation based on personality types and temperament.
      4) Thinking of asking some friends over for a cookout? Ask them to bring their dog. They would probably welcome the idea (I personally love it when a friend asks me to come over and bring my dog), and playful pups are great entertainment!
      5) Our Holiday Barn Pet Resort Daycare Manager may know of the perfect playmate for your dog. She probably knows of other doggie moms and dads whose pup didn’t enjoy group play, but would most certainly appreciate some one-on-one playtime.

Make introductions slowly, and carefully monitor all of your dog’s playtimes. Make sure the play is appropriate and mutually fun for both playmates. No mounting, no body-slamming, no raised hackles, and no snapping. Learn how to recognize when your dog has had enough and limit the amount of time he spends playing. Dogs will play until they are utterly depleted, physically and mentally. Without proper rest, they can become injured, or even “cranky” (aka, aggressive).

After your dog has had several successful interactions during play dates, don’t be afraid to try sending him to doggie daycare again. Sometimes all your dog needs is to realize that playing with other dogs is nothing to be feared but is actually fun. Play builds confidence and other social skills. During play, your dog has learned how to handle new social situations, he has developed better doggie communication skills, learned to share toys, and interact appropriately. As his confidence improves, he may be more inclined to play in a group.

The Best Play Dates Happen at Holiday Barn

What’s the ultimate play date? That’s right… Holiday Barn Pet Resorts dog day camp in Richmond, VA! We will take care of finding the best group for your dog to play in, based on many of the characteristics discussed above: size, temperament, energy levels and play styles. All of our guests must be current on vaccinations, and their health is closely monitored while under our care. We make sure our “Campers” get the perfect balance of play and rest – playing for two hours and then resting for two hours, giving them plenty of time to “reboot”, desensitize, and cool down. Our staff will work with you and your dog to assure the best possible solution to your dog’s need for play.

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