Dogs are very social animals, and the majority of them love to run around and play with others of their kind. If your dog seems keen, it’s a good idea to give him plenty of opportunities to romp and play with others. For an owner, however, the idea of finding new friends for your dog to play with might seem a bit daunting. What if they don’t get along? How do you go about finding other suitable dogs? Luckily, there are plenty of easy ways to not only find playmates, but to also make sure that the friendship is strong, healthy and enjoyable for all.
Firstly, it’s important to remember that not all dogs enjoy socialising. Just like humans can be introverted, so can dogs. Some dogs might also have experiences from their puppyhood that discourage them from wanting to hang out with other dogs. Forcing a dog into a friendship won’t be good for either dog, so observe your dog’s body language towards other dogs while out on walks or at the park before deciding whether your dog really wants a playmate.
Once you’ve established that you do want to go ahead with finding your dog a friend, the next question is – where to look? Local dog parks and dog day care centres are a great start, as these places are likely to have plenty of friendly and outgoing dogs for yours to meet. Doggy day care is even better, as professionals will monitor and match your dog with suitable playmates. If you have friends or family with a dog or two, this makes your job even easier – see if you can organise some playdates between the dogs. If you notice at the local dog park or dog day care centre that there are some particular dogs that you see often and your dog gets along with, this is a good sign for future interactions.
There are also some tips to fine-tune the perfectly compatible friendships for your dog. It’s a good idea to have dogs of a similar age play together, especially with puppies (who tend to love rough play-fighting games) and mature age dogs (who might prefer a more relaxed companion). While dogs of all ages get along, keep in mind which ages will provide the most appropriate play styles to keep your dog healthy and fit. Dogs of the opposite sex also seem to get along better than dogs of the same sex, as same sex dogs have a tendency to fight or see the other as “competition”. Finally, make sure you realise that size does play a factor – and that big dogs in rough-and-tumble play could easily harm smaller dogs.
Overall, the most important thing is to watch your dog’s behaviour, and notice who and what they get along with. Not all dogs will get along, and that’s fine! But there’re plenty of potential playmates out there for your dog – as long as both you and them are eager to look!