By Emily Gantt
Published: 09/20/2021, edited: 09/20/2021
Puppy playdates are a "furrific" way to socialize your dog and meet new pet parents too. Dog trainers encourage pet parents to have regular playdates, especially for puppies. The period between 6 to 16 weeks of age is called the critical socialization period. Dogs who are undersocialized during this critical period are at risk of developing fear or aggression toward other dogs or people.
Besides helping to create a more well-adjusted woofer, playdates also give dogs an outlet to release pent-up energy — which translates into fewer late-night wake-up calls for pet parents. While playdates should be a fun and relaxed time, there are some things you should consider when planning a puppy playdate. Let's discuss things you can do to keep your pup and yourself safe during neighborhood pup meet-ups.
It's important to have your pet vaccinated before committing to puppy playdates. Puppies can quickly spread diseases like parvo and distemper, which can be life-threatening for dogs with no immunity. Talk to your vet about your pup's vaccination schedule to make sure they are protected against these common but deadly canine contagions.
Spaying or neutering your pet will not only prevent unwanted pregnancies, but it can also help prevent same-sex aggression and territorial tendencies — 3 things you don't want on your neighborhood pup date! Most vets recommend having your puppy spayed or neutered at 8 weeks old, which is also during a dog's critical socialization period. Spaying and neutering early on can help prevent fights and undesirable behaviors like mounting during playdates.
You'll need to create an environment that's conducive to safe play. For some dogs, this means no toys, and for others, this means bring on the tennis balls. It all depends on your pup's temperament. Some dogs are extremely possessive over their toys, and the mere mention of a squeaky plush could send them in a frenzy. For these dogs, it's best to leave the toys at home.
Also, it's a good idea to keep the weather in mind during playdates. Dogs can easily overwork themselves during hot weather, so make sure all woofers have access to a fresh bowl of water.
Study your dog's play style before you arrange a neighborhood pup date. You'll want to match them with another dog that has a similar play style and temperament to yours. If your dog is a rough player, you won't want to schedule a playdate with a shy or skittish dog. Talk to your fellow pet parents about their dog's play style before meeting up to ensure your dogs are compatible.
Lastly, consider COVID-19 safety precautions when planning a neighborhood pup date. Outdoor playdates are preferable since the outdoors allows for better air circulation.
Maintain a 6-foot distance between you and the other pet parent, and wear masks if possible. Try to keep gatherings small, and sanitize your hands regularly if sharing dog toys. Avoid touching your face between hand washes since this can spread germs as well.
We hope this article inspires you to plan a pup date in your neighborhood. Remember to stay safe, mask up, and get your pup vaccinated. Most importantly, have fun!
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