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6 Questions to Ask Before Having a Puppy Playdate
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Making sure your puppy is properly socialized will play a big part in his development. Before you book your puppy play date, get the answers to the following questions.
Early socialization is essential for puppies, especially during the first three to six months when they are the most impressionable. Socializing your puppy is the best way to ensure that he grows up to be a well-adjusted adult dog, and puppy play dates are a great way to do it. Before you schedule that playdate, however, there are some important questions you should ask yourself and the other dog owner.
- Have both puppies had their shots?
It may not feel PC to ask another dog owner about their puppy’s vaccination status, but it is critical for the safety of both dogs. Most puppies are up to date on shots by the time they reach four months, but it is still important to check. If one or both puppies still need some of their shots, just keep them indoors and away from other dogs.
- What is the age and sex of the other puppy?
Puppies should be socialized to dogs of all ages, but it is always a good idea to check before you set a date just so you know what you’re getting into. It is especially important for your puppy to be vaccinated if he’s going to be playing with an adult dog. You should also check the sex because some dogs tend to be a little more aggressive around dogs of the same sex.
- Is the other dog spayed or neutered?
Unless you plan to breed your dog (and you should think carefully before you do), you should have the dog spayed or neutered around 6 months of age. If one of the dogs hasn’t been altered, you should be on the lookout for mounting behavior or aggression – be extra careful if neither dog has been altered. If you want to be as safe as possible, choose a spayed/neutered playmate for your puppy.
- What is the other puppy’s play style?
Some puppies are naturally more rambunctious while some tend to be a little reserved. Your puppy should have as many new experiences as possible while he is young, but you don’t want to put him in a situation where he will be frightened or anxious. Choose a playdate whose play style matches your puppy’s.
- What kind of toys and treats does the other puppy like?
When you are using puppy playdates as a tool for socialization, it is important to reward your puppy for positive interactions. Ask the other dog owner about favorite toys and treats so you can have some on hand to reward both puppies when they play together well.
- Where will you have the playdate?
Choosing the right location for a puppy playdate is just as important as choosing the right puppy. If your puppy has already had some socialization, he may be amenable to traveling to the other puppy’s home for a playdate. But if your puppy is still a little nervous, it may make him feel more comfortable to have a playdate in familiar territory. Keep in mind, however, that this could also go the opposite way – he might feel threatened to have another puppy come to his home. Take your puppy’s temperament into account and make the choice that is best for him.
Puppy playdates are fun for everyone involved, but they do come with some risks. Do what is best for your puppy and ask the six questions listed above before you set a date to make sure that everyone is safe.
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor’s degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.