Wednesday, March 31, 2010
By Suzanne Alicie
You can take your dog for a run or enjoy a game of fetch in the backyard to provide him with much needed play and exercise, so why would you go to the trouble of arranging play dates for your dog? Don’t you have enough to do with kids, work and home? Keep reading to find out the importance of play dates for your dog.
Imagine that you are walking your dog in the park; suddenly he sees another dog and goes crazy pulling on the leash, barking and dragging you along as he runs after this other dog. This can lead to reluctance to take your dog anywhere he may encounter other dogs. The fear that your dog will attack another dog or even a person can lead you to feel much safer playing with and exercising your dog at home.
This is where play dates come in. Dogs are social animals, and many of their behaviors that may seem threatening are simply their pack nature. Dogs are either submissive or dominant, and in any group of canines there will emerge a natural alpha dog. By setting up play dates and allowing your dog to indulge in the sniffing and romping that is normal for him, you are allowing him to be a dog.
Dogs need to be socialized not only with other animals, but with other humans as well. A dog who is isolated and only interacts with their own family will tend to be more high strung and vocal when he encounters other people or animals.
Early socialization helps puppies grow up to be amiable and cooperative around other dogs and people. If your dog is already grown and hasn’t socialized with other dogs and people very much, it is important to start slowly to socialize him. Arrange to meet a friend to walk your two dogs together at the park. If your friend’s dog is used to other dogs and not afraid, it will be better for your dog to adjust to.
Muzzle your dog to prevent any accidental damage should he become frightened or aggressive. When you meet your friend, allow the dogs to do their doggie thing. Give them time to sniff and become accustomed to one another before beginning your walk. Don’t despair if your dog growls or even cowers from the other dog in the beginning. He is simply reacting to the other dog and after a few moments will take his behavior cues from his new friend. This is why it is important to introduce your dog to another dog that has been socialized. Bringing two un-socialized dogs together can be chaos.
As your dog becomes more accustomed to his new doggie friend, find a few more people that you know with dogs to join you on your walks. Over time your dog will grow to look forward to the time he gets to spend with his canine friends. You will be able to remove the muzzle and in certain situations even unleash the dogs and allow them to run and play together. These play dates make for dogs who aren’t timid or aggressive with new dogs or new people that they encounter.
Your dog will thrive and be much happier if he is allowed to play with other canines. While interaction with people is important, dogs need time to be pack animals, to find their place within their circle of friends, and to learn more about being a dog as well as a pet.
Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie