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How to Find the Right Playmate for Your Dog

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Tell me if you have been in this situation before. You walk with your dog, and another puppy comes by and wants to play with your pooch, but your pet is ignoring him? And then, a minute later, your dog wags his tail in excitement with another puppy. Well, in a way, dogs are just like us. We do not want to be friends with everyone, right?

There is a saying, “You cannot make everyone happy, you are not an ice cream”. Even the most social dogs out there are not friends with everyone. Maybe a Golden Retriever or some extremely sociable Siberian Husky.

Yet, most of the time, dogs pick their friends. Yes, canines are social creatures. They thrive on interaction and playtime. But they do not want to play with just any other dog.

Why Does Your Dog Need a Playmate?

Have you ever felt like your dog is using a dating app? And you swipe left or right for potential playmates at the park? Well, finding a perfect pup friend for your dog can sometimes be a challenge. Each dog has its preference. And then some breeds play a certain way.

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For example, terrier breeds play rougher than other dogs. They love to wrestle. They love to bite each other during play. And in most cases, it is harmless. But some dog owners will not love it when your terrier pup plays like that with his French Bulldog, for example.

Finding a good playmate for your puppy is essential for raising a happy and devoted pup. Just think of the smile your dog puts on his face after playing with a new dog.

I’ve seen it on Milo’s face hundreds of times. And I still cannot get enough of it. His smile means everything to me. Here are three reasons why your dog needs a play buddy:

  • Playing with other dogs provides physical activity and exercise that you cannot simply cannot offer. There is no other way to deliver the same exercise as playing. Milo is more tired after 10 minutes of playing with another dog than after three hours of hiking. True story!
  • Playing provides mental stimulation as well. And I can say, it is the best mental stimulation that your puppy can get. That is the reason why dogs feel exhausted after playing for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Last, but not least, dogs that play more, behave better. Playing with the right puppy buddy improves your dog’s behavior. Your dog learns how to behave in public. And knows when to initiate play, how to initiate play, how to stop play, and more. Instead of a reactive dog, you get a calm and friendly puppy

What is the Perfect Match for Your Dog?

I touched briefly before that some terrier breeds play differently than other dogs. I remember Milo as a young puppy. He and his BFF, another Jack Russell, female, would look like a UFC fight to others. Luckily, me and the other owner knew the terrier’s personality. We understood how our puppies play.

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For example, when Milo plays roughly with another dog, sometimes, I have to explain to them. And when some large dogs throw Milo under them, I know it is part of their play style. Here is an example, he played with a Boxer once, and that Boxer just used his legs to bounce Milo over and over again.

Now, let’s talk about some factors that you should consider when looking for a good play match.

  • Size is one of the biggest factors. Yet, here is the fun part. Small dogs love playing with large dogs and vice versa. For example, Milo’s favorite playdates are big and fluffy dogs. And they love his personality and energy as well. Nevertheless, you should rarely pair a Shih Tzu with a Rottweiler. Their size will come into play sooner rather than later
  • Age is another factor. Young puppies are more interested in play than older dogs. Milo completely ignores puppies under 8 months. They run around him, try to invite him to play, and do everything in their power to engage, but he is just calm and chill. Modern dog playgrounds often have separate sections for puppies and adult dogs. Thank God for that
  • Energy level – I’ve seen Milo play with French Bulldogs when he was a little puppy. And they could match his energy. But not all. Milo, like any other terrier, is a hyperactive puppy. He can go rounds and rounds. But if the other dog cannot match the energy, the play date becomes boring for both puppies
  • Playstyle – Again, I touched on this before. Some dogs love chasing. Milo doesn’t. Even though his instinct is to chase. But when I pair him with dogs that love to be chased or to chase him, he just stands still. And the play date ends right there. That doesn’t mean Milo doesn’t have the energy, but he just prefers a different way of playing. Other dogs love fetching. They can fetch a tree and play tug together

How to Find the Perfect Match?

If you made it this far, you are probably wondering, with so many factors, how do I find the right playmate for my dog? Well, I can tell you it is not easy. The good news is there are simple ways to do it. But you have to be willing to provide your dog with a suitable partner.

The first way you can find a playmate is by reaching out to friends and neighbors. If you live in a neighborhood with plenty of apartments, someone has to own a dog. Even if there are only houses. Talk to your friends, friends of friends, friends of relatives. And if you find someone you might think will work wonderfully, schedule a playdate.

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Now let’s talk about the modern way. With the rise of Tinder and similar dating apps, finding a partner online has become a different norm for relationships. Well, the same can be said for doggy apps. There are several apps that help you find a suitable dog friend. You can also check local dog forums.

The last option is visiting local dog parks and playgrounds. Personally, I am against dog parks. Why? Because often, there will be too many dogs for your puppy to feel comfortable. Dog parks are a disaster waiting to happen.

You can never know everything about every dog inside. Sometimes, pet parents bring their dogs with zoomies to the park. And that spells catastrophe. Playgrounds, on the other hand, can be beneficial.

Try visiting some local dog parks and playgrounds. See if your dog meshes with someone. And then schedule a play date at a different location.

Scheduling that First Playdate

I talked about how you can find the perfect playdate for your puppy. But sometimes, theory and practice do not work. What might work in theory, will not work in real life. Same with humans. Two people might be the perfect match on paper, but when they start dating, they do not click.

So, what can you do to make playdates and meetings more successful? Here are some tips:

  • Meet at a neutral location, one that neither dog considers to be its territory. Even the friendliest dogs can have some territorial instincts
  • Work on neutrality. Before allowing the dogs to sniff, you can walk for a few minutes side by side at a small distance. As you walk, lower the distance
  • Always meet other dogs from a side position. Do not let dogs approach each other directly. Why? Because that triggers aggression. When dogs meet from the side, they do not feel threatened by the other puppy
  • Pay attention to your dog’s body language. If you notice a dog feels uncomfortable, go back to a neutral position. Work on neutrality for a while, and then let the two sniff again
  • Most importantly, always, always supervise the entire playdate. You can even interrupt the playdate by calling your dog to come and then allowing him to go play again

Final Words

Hopefully, you learned something new about how to schedule a play date for your puppy. The next time, we can talk more in-depth about the different play styles.

But I want you to be able to identify the way your puppy plays and find a perfect match. If you want to read more about dog behavior and training, or see how I compare breeds, take a look at my blog. And leave comments for any suggestions!

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