Activities For A Sociable Dog

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Introduction

Like people, some dogs are considerably more social than others. But while we have the freedom to choose where and when to spend our time, let alone who to spend it with, dogs are at the constant mercy of our choices, leaving many of them significantly short of the social interaction they may be seeking, or in some cases, would simply benefit from for the sake of socialization or experience. While the options may sometimes seem limited, there are usually more than enough places where both you and your dog can be social, you just have to know where to look.

Doggy Classes

Popular
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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
30 - 60 min
Items needed
Internet accessible Device
Leash
Harness
Treats
Dog Waste bags
Activity description
Getting your dog out in the world and socializing with others doesn't necessarily have to be purely about socializing. There are plenty of ways to work towards a greater goal WHILE getting in some good time getting to know other people and other dogs. Doggy classes are the perfect opportunity to work on skills training, behavior, exercise, and everything else under the sun while providing the perfect scenario to get your dog better adjusted to those around them, or just to make some new friends. There are classes on everything from improving obedience to doggy yoga, so you can kill two birds with one bone!
Step
1
Assess your dog's needs and likes
As everyone knows, not all dogs are the same, and neither are their skills and needs, so step one is determining where you can find the appropriate crossover between your dog's interests and abilities. For instance, it probably wouldn't be the wisest to sign your 12-year-old dog for agility lessons! Figure out what your dog truly enjoys and where their comfort level lies and start searching for classes that will suit them best. Group classes will provide socialization regardless, so concentrate on what your dog will do best with first. Search the internet and stop in local pet shops for information about what kinds of clinics and classes are offered nearby.
Step
2
Attend and beyond
Of course, the second step after finding an event is going! But don't stop there. Be mindful of how your dog reacts when socializing and how they prefer to spend their time (being active, passive, just sniffing around or seeking playmates) and make mental or physical notes to use in the future. Talk to other people in the class about where they go for other classes and how they choose to socialize their pets. Not everyone is guaranteed to have a good answer, but those that do could provide you some great ideas on other classes or events to attend. If nothing else, a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly class will at least give you and your dog a fair dose of friends and new faces, which is much more consistent than just trying to find random events when they're made available.
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Dog-friendly Events

Popular
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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
20 - 120 min
Items needed
Internet accessible device
Dog-friendly transport
Treats
Dog Waste bags
Activity description
Many people seem to think that the dog parks and local trails are the only places to regularly run into other dogs or socialize, but there is an entire world of dog-friendly events waiting for you online. Numerous websites from the generic local Facebook events page to specialized dog-centric websites regularly feature activities in which both dogs and owners can socialize with others outside of your normal friend group, which means you'll likely have to learn to be outgoing - which isn't hard since everyone there will also have dogs and that's one supremely easy topic of conversation. Most of them are cheap if not free, range from indoor to outdoor and year-round, some are even centered around other interests such as food, and others yet are simply human-oriented events that are dog-friendly, leaving a ton of opportunities to find something suitable for both you and your pet.
Step
1
Find an event
If you have a computer, phone, or tablet with Internet access, you need little more. If you don't, try the local library! The easiest way to find things is just doing a search for "dog-friendly events near me" or "dog-friendly events in _________" and entering your city or zip code. Most city and state travel websites are a great place to start, but there are at least 2 to 3 websites dedicated to listing this type of information, and many even cover events outside of the United States. Social media sites are also a great place to go, as are websites based on social events for people, as many of them will be tagged as dog-friendly. Plus, you may not know it, but many places also have dog-friendly event days even if their spaces aren't normally accessible for dogs. For instance, most MLB ballparks have a "Pups in the Park" or "Bark at the Park" day where dog owners can bring their dogs to the game!
Step
2
Attend and network
Saying you need to attend the event is a little unnecessary, but you never know, sometimes people need a reminder. The most important aspect of this step is socializing and networking. Outside of making new friends, canine or human, most events of this type are usually full of people with an interest in finding more. Many of them may have resources you may not even know about and will open that many more doors for you and your pooch to explore.
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Doggy Birthday Bash

Popular
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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
30 - 120 min
Items needed
Treats
Toys
Dog-appropriate baked goods
Party hats
Dog waste bags
Activity description
It may sound ridiculous, but throwing your dog a birthday bash, an anniversary party or even just a puppy playdate can be a great way for both owners and dogs to socialize. It takes little to organize, can be done inside if there's bad weather or outside if it's nice, is relatively cheap if everyone pitches in, and can go for several hours as long as long as all partygoers behave (humans included). Plus, you can determine the party size, the activities planned, food, and drinks, so like any other event, can be repeated without getting boring! You can even develop themes if you want to keep everything fresh instead of only having the same old stale birthday parties.
Step
1
Planning
The first thing you'll need to determine is where to have the event. If you have a yard of your own or a decently-sized house or apartment, you're likely already set. If you don't, poll your friends and see if they're interested and if so, if they'd be willing to host (given your help, of course). Once you have a space, you can determine the size of the guest list, but we recommend leaving the final decision of whoever is hosting if it's not yourself for the sake of politeness. Once you've gotten a guest list together, think about the sizes and abilities of your friends' dogs and the space you'll be working in and come up with an activity or two that will help keep both dogs and humans entertained. Dog races, agility courses, tug-of-war, and plain old ball-chasing are great ways to get both people and animals involved and have fun with the competition in the process.
Step
2
Fill out the day
Once you've gotten a guest list and activities together, send invites out and gauge who is available and when. Once you start hearing back, feel free to poll them for additional ideas, times, and dates as there may be things you've overlooked or timing that works better for certain owners or dogs. See if friends are willing to donate a package of treats or toys for the day, so you're not left to shoulder all of the expenses. Make sure to have enough fresh water on hand for both humans and canines, as well as other desired drinks. Consider making foods side-by-side, like preparing people cupcakes and dog cupcakes (yes, they do exist and your dogs will probably love them). Try to have enough to do to keep everyone entertained over the desired period of time, dogs included, but also build in some time just for socializing (usually the beginning is better so any unfamiliar dogs can adjust to each other before other activities).
Step
3
Party!
Party! Like a party for kids, having a bunch of dog parents all in one place means everyone can watch out for everyone else's dogs and humans, so if anything gets out of control, there are numerous people to handle any potential mishaps. Otherwise, you now have at least a couple hours to let your dogs socialize naturally, get them involved in activities, and socialize with your friends, a win-win-win for all parties involved! (pun intended).
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More Fun Ideas...

Volunteer For Animal Therapy

If your dog is easy-going and friendly with all types of people and other dogs, they might be a great candidate for animal therapy. While animal therapy and AAA are similar, animal therapy dogs need to be certified and therefore need to pass through multiple stages of training and testing. But once they do, the door will open to more approved activities you can both do to bring health and joy to others!

Animal Assisted Activities

Many hospitals and nursing homes have policies that allow scheduled visits for well-behaved and social animals and they're a great way to spread the joy you get from your pet with others. Visits are usually kept pretty short but they will certainly bring a smile to the faces of people who need them most and your social dog will most certainly enjoy the extra petting and attention!

Dog Park

Yes, this one is a no-brainer, but it deserves to be on the list! Dog parks are often one of the first and best places to get your dog some social time with both old friends and new friends, human and canine.

Conclusion

While there are certainly more social activities for people to do on a regular basis, many often forget that the number of dog-friendly events and businesses are increasing by the day. With enough research, most owners can easily find a great event or activity that will be suitable for both human and dog, which will not only broaden both of your horizons to the outside world, but will also provide that many more opportunities to enjoy something exciting and new together in a fun and social setting.