Dogs may be known as man’s best friend, but dogs deserve best friends of their own, too. NoVA is a great place for your dog to socialize with others and get some much-needed playtime. Check out the following steps to organize the doggy playdate of your pup’s dreams.
Pick the Perfect Play Partner
When looking for a playmate for your pup, keep in mind play compatibility. Try to choose a dog that is similar in age and size to your own, suggests Be Chewy. That way neither dog gets overwhelmed. Knowing the personality of your dog helps. If you don’t have a second dog in mind, don’t worry. There’s plenty of ways to help your dog meet other canines.
An easy place to start is on your phone: You can make friends for yourself and your dog with the Pawdates app. Narrow the choices by area, age, gender, and breed to find the best match for your dog with just a few swipes. Posting on Nextdoor and to Facebook groups are great ways to find potential pup pals virtually.
If you’d prefer to find your doggy date in the wild, you can ask your pet-loving network (dog-owning friends and professionals at your go-to pet care spots) to start. Or, let your dog meet friends organically at one of NoVA’s dog parks and connect with their owners to set up future playdates.
For more structured playtime options for your pet, consider joining a canine sports club like Alexandria’s Frolick Dogs. It hosts events that are ideal for socializing, including playgroups based on size and age.
Choose a Location Your Pet Will Love
Luckily, NoVA is filled with dog-friendly places that owners and pets alike will enjoy. Choosing neutral ground for the dogs to meet is important. Why not try a public dog park? Try one of Northern Virginia Magazine’s reader-voted favorites, like off-leash options Baron Cameron Dog Park or Fredericksburg Dog Park. Or consider one with a water feature like Arlington’s James Hunter Park so the pups can keep cool.
Keep an eye out for dog events at your favorite spots. Reston Town Center, for instance, hosts a pop-up off-leash play area on Wednesday evenings called Pups in the Pavillion. For a playdate that is more for the owners than the dogs, you can tote the pups along to one of NoVA’s many dog-friendly bars and restaurants.
During the Playdate: Active Dog Parenting
When you get to the doggy date, try to set the two dogs up for success. Carefully introduce them to each other before letting them loose to play on their terms. Be wary of introducing toys into the mix, in case it brings out the possessive side of your puppy, advises the American Kennel Club.
To prioritize the safety of the dogs, make sure to always keep a close eye on your canine friends, The Daily Wag recommends. Look out for body language to make sure your dog is having fun and be cognizant of signs of stress. If the two dogs are playing unsafely or not hitting it off, it may be best to end the date early and try again another day, or with another pup. If tails are wagging and they do hit it, it might be time to schedule the next one.
Feature image by Marina/stock.adobe.com
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