We've been asked, "Why would a dog need a date?"
Dogs run in packs. They are at their core social creatures. If your dog is an “only child" it will enjoy quality time with other dogs. It needs that time to keep from going crazy. It may not seem like it if your big dog gets scared by large groups of dogs, but that is a sign it is still getting socialized.
Dog dates with one or two other dogs is a great stepping stone. It is less intimidating for your dog than going to an environment with a lot of other dogs. A social dog is a happy dog.
The added benefit for you is the chance to connect with other dog owners. New to the area and need a vet? Get a recommendation from someone. Crazy about a specific breed? Find others who share that love. Have a behavioral issue with your dog? Other owners have overcome the same hurdle and can share tips. It’s a rewarding and useful community to join. I've even known business people who forged relationships because of their dogs play time. Dog dates need to be as much fun for the owner as much as it is for the dog.
The kinds of dog dates vary greatly so you need to find one that works for you. Some are just 2 to 3 big dogs and owners; others are larger groups. You can meet at the dog park, the beach or at a dog-friendly restaurant.
Some groups for dog dates are open to all kinds of dogs; some are breed-specific. Activities range from playtime to hikes to simple walks. Find some open space, two dogs, and a tennis ball and you have the makings of a fun dog date. Bring a video camera for memories you can laugh at later (or upload to YouTube - make sure you send us the link to share with the Posse!).
There are lots of ways to connect with other dog owners to set up dates for your dog. Some websites, like Meetup.com, have dog groups. See if there are any in your area that you can join.
Ask your vet or pet-sitter if they know of any groups, or if you can put up a flyer in their office to connect with other owners. Look into local charities with a pet-related spin; that's a great way to meet other big dog owners.
Facebook has an application called Dogbook, where you can set up a profile page for your dog and connect to dogs that live nearby. From there, you can set up dates for the dogs. Of course, the easiest way is to seek out other owners yourself - ask a friend or neighbor if they would like to join you for walks.
Dog dates are a great experience for you and your dog. Try a few and see how they go. It’s a lot more fun to take your dog out for play when it becomes fun for you too.
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Photo credit: Laertes