By Emily Gantt
Published: 09/15/2021, edited: 09/15/2021
Organizing a playdate for your pup can be a fun and rewarding experience. Still, when you start trying to schedule multiple playdates at once, it can get overwhelming — especially when you're already juggling work, home life, and a new puppy.
That's where we come in! We will explain how to organize multiple playdates (without pulling your hair out) so your fur-baby can get the socialization they need.
Playdates are vital for creating a well-adjusted puppy, especially during the puppy's critical socialization period. The critical socialization period lasts from when a puppy is 3 weeks old to 16 weeks old.
This period is crucial because it shapes how your puppy interprets and interacts with the world and those in it. Puppies who are undersocialized during this critical period may become fearful or aggressive towards unfamiliar people or animals.
The idea behind socialization is to create positive experiences with other dogs and people to build your dog's confidence and improve their behavior. Repeated positive interactions with people and animals will decrease fear, aggression, and territorial tendencies. Basically, the more positive encounters your dog has with other dogs and humans, the better off your dog will be.
So now that we've covered why having consistent playdates is essential, let's discuss how to organize multiple puppy playdates.
Step 1: Have your puppy vaccinated
The first step to preparing your dog for multiple playdates is to have them vaccinated. Exposing your dog to multiple pets can put them at risk of catching parvo, distemper, or other common puppy viruses.
Ask your vet which vaccines your pup needs and have them vaccinated before your playdate. You may also want to consult with your vet about dewormer and flea meds for your puppy since parasites can easily pass between dogs.
Step 2: Find other pet parents in your area
Arguably, the most challenging part of organizing multiple puppy playdates is finding pet parents in your area that are willing to meet for a playdate. Ideally, you already have pet parent friends with social dogs, though this isn't always the case.
If you don't have friends with dogs, try posting in local Facebook groups that you're looking for dog parents to plan a playdate with. You may be surprised at how many pet parents are open to the idea!
Step 3: Study your dog's temperament and play style
Studying your dog's temperament and play style is so important when planning a puppy playdate. Rough players aren't going to get along well with shy puppies and vice versa.
You want the puppy playdate to be a fun and relaxing experience for all parties, and that isn't going to happen if your rowdy doggo scares your friend's shy pooch. Ask your fellow pet parents about their puppy's play style and make sure it is compatible with your pup's before committing to a playdate.
Step 4: Check your schedule
Scheduling multiple playdates can be difficult, especially if you and the other pet parent work full-time jobs. If you work a set schedule, try to figure out times and dates that work for everyone. If your schedules still conflict, you may need to ask your employer for those dates off a few weeks in advance.
It might seem like a hassle to ask off work for multiple playdates, but remember, the critical socialization period is time you can’t get back. Your well-adjusted pup will thank you later!
Step 5: Pick a place
After you've decided on dates and times that work for both parties, it's time to determine a playdate location. Picking a location may seem like an easy feat, but there are some things to consider when doing so.
Some dogs are territorial over their home, so for these dogs, it might be best to meet in a neutral place like a fenced-in dog park. On the other hand, a skittish dog might do better in a home setting rather than a lively dog park.
If you choose to have a puppy playdate at your home, make sure you do some puppy-proofing beforehand — this means mending holes in your fencing and placing cords and small objects out of the puppies' reach. For more information, check out our guide on puppy-proofing your home and backyard.
Step 6: See how the dogs interact
No matter how much planning you do, there's no telling how dogs will react to one another until it's time for the playdate. Watch your dog closely when introducing other people and pets, and remove your dog immediately if you sense tension or aggression.
Be patient and don't force the dogs to interact with one another — some pups prefer to get a feel for other dogs by sniffing them out first.
Fights can break out in an instant, so keep your eyes on Fido and Fifi during their interactions. Focus more on the dogs than your conversation with the other pet parents — we promise it will make for a much more "pawsitive" experience.
Last but not least, have fun and enjoy your time with your fellow pet lovers! For more ideas, check out our guide on organizing pup playdates!
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