Dog Behavior ProblemsDog Training Tips & Advice

Make Socialization Fun: Plan A Safe Puppy Playdate

Safe playdate for your puppy

Make socializing safe and fun for your puppy

Puppies should be exposed to, and allowed to play with other healthy, vaccinated puppies and dogs (as long as everyone plays nicely). Puppy playdates are a great way to let your pup socialize and learn to properly interact with its fellow canine buddies. When puppies don’t interact with other puppies, they never learn social cues from other dogs, which can lead to fear or dog-aggression as the pup grows into adulthood.

However, make sure you take your puppy out for positive experiences at the right time and in the right places. Having the right vaccinations is vital to your pup’s health. Although specifics vary, depending on your vet and region of the country, most vets recommend a core set of vaccinations be given two to four weeks apart. A common schedule is canine parvovirus, adenovirus-2, parainfluenza and canine distemper at 8, 12 and 16 weeks.

Allow your puppy to have positive experiences at the veterinarianSeveral days after puppies have completed their first set of vaccinations, they can socialize with other well-cared-for puppies, and go to small public gatherings. However, it would be wise to wait until after 12 to 16 weeks of age and the completion of the final vaccinations before taking puppies to a larger public place, such as a dog park or dog show.

Puppy socialization class is a wonderful way to have your pup interact with lots of other puppies. You can make friends at these classes and set up home playdates with other new pups or dogs. The guidance of an experienced trainer will help you learn the proper ways to socialize your puppy so that he becomes a well-rounded individual.

It’s best to introduce the dogs while on-leash or on opposite sides of a fence or barrier before allowing them to interact, especially if you don’t know the other dog well. However, there are some things you must be aware of when introducing dogs on-leash. You may not be aware of this but your feelings and reactions will have a lot to do with how dogs choose to interact. If you are stressed or nervous about a dog coming to meet yours, your dog may think something is wrong and react accordingly. If you are tense and holding the leash tightly, this tells your dog that the situation is one he should be worried about as well. So learn how to read your dog and relax so he can meet other dogs without an incorrect preconceived idea.

Try not to take puppies away from their mother and siblings too earlyAlthough new and different experiences are important to a puppy’s development, it’s also important not to overwhelm the little guy or gal. Let your pup stand back, observe and move at its own pace. While one puppy may find a specific new experience exciting, another may start out with a nervous perception, and may need extra time to adjust.

The most important thing to keep in mind when setting up puppy playdates is that the experiences are best kept positive when all dogs are matched by age, size and personality type. The key aspect of a playdate is that you have plenty of supervision and make certain you allow for rest or nap time. If you are unsure about what types of puppies should be allowed to play with yours, the best thing you could do with your puppy is get him into puppy classes. At Highland Canine Training LLC, we offer several puppy and obedience classes with experienced trainers who understand the importance of correct socialization. If you are interested in any of our classes or have any questions, please call us at 1.866.200.2207 or email us at

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