Puppy Playdates

Life must be lived as play.
- Plato

02-12-14(2)
Brittany Graham Photography

A tired pup is a good pup. One of the best ways to tire out a dog is to let another dog tire him out for you. Dog people like other dog people. Which means, at one point or another, a friend of yours has come up with the fantastic idea of coming over and bringing their dog with them. Immediately you are all for it and can only see the positives. Then, after you solidify a date, the questions start. How is their dog going to react to a new home? How will my dog react to having another canine in his home? What kind of boundaries and rules do they set up for their dog?

The best way to start off a play date is for all of you to go on a Piloted walk right away (no manic pups running rampant on retractables). This solidifies that you accept the other dog and owner as “pack” and therefore your dog will too. This also allows time for both dogs to get used to each other’s scent. The more the scent is familiar the less exciting and foreign it is. Even if your dogs have played together before, it’s never a bad idea to go on a walk before. Again, you’re re-familiarizing your dogs to each other. Don’t allow the dogs to play together until they both are calm. If you decide to go on a walk, have one dog enter the house and wait calmly. The second dog must be calm before entering the house. When you feel that you have control over the situation with both dogs in it, they can then interact with each other.

02-12-14
Brittany Graham Photography

You are Pilot, which means you have to protect your pup if you need to. If you feel that the other “playmate” is behaving in a way that is making you or your dog uncomfortable, claim your dog.  Use the same body language outlined in The PAW Method at the dog park or during a doggie play date. Place yourself between your dog and the visiting dog with strong body language to communicate your ownership of your own dog. It is also best to remove any high value toys that may be around (i.e. rawhides, antlers). These toys can bring out some resource guarding tendencies in either dog, even if you haven’t been aware of them.

As far as rules go, think of the saying “my house, my rules”. Dogs that come to visit me, have to abide by the same rules that my own dog does. I use my body language to let the visiting dog know what is allowed and what is not. The same thing goes for my two legged visitors. If I feel as though my dog needs a break but the other owner wants to let them continue to play, I’m not afraid to use gentle confident body language to make my point. By standing up straight and placing myself in between both dogs, I’m saying, “No, not right now”, not only with my voice but with my body too, but in a gentle way. Your pup is looking to you for direction and protection as you are their Pilot. That means being smart with what you allow and how you react to certain situations. Having a “doggy play date” has so many benefits. The best part is, after your dog’s friend leaves, they will be looking forward to some catching up on some sleep.

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