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5 Tips for a Successful Doggy Play Date

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shutterstock_349217201How to Promote Good Health with Play Dates for Your Mini Schnauzer

Dogs are social animals, and your miniature schnauzer is no exception. A loving and attentive owner is all that most dogs need to fulfill their social needs. Unless you leave your dog alone for extended periods of time, he doesn’t really need to have a dog friend to be happy.

So what’s the point of dog play dates? For schnauzers, play dates fill a very important need, which is the need for exercise. Without a healthy diet and regular exercise, a miniature schnauzer can gain weight very quickly. Playing with another dog will bring out the puppy in your schnauzer, and playing is great exercise for your dog.

Health and safety concerns are common reasons that many pet owners avoid play dates. Some pet owners feels stressed when their dog interacts with other animals, but planning ahead will help to ensure that your pet’s play date is fun and drama-free. Here are 5 things that you can do to make sure your schnauzer’s play date is a fun experience for everyone involved.

  1. Choose Your Friends Wisely

Dog parks are not always a safe option for mini schnauzers become some dog parks are playgrounds for a lot of large breed dogs. Rottweilers are great dogs, but they are probably too big to be the best play companions for your mini schnauzer. That’s the beauty of a play date! You get the opportunity to protect your pet by choosing a companion that’s similar in size.

Size matters, but it’s not the only important thing to consider. Dogs of the opposite sex tend to make better playmates than dogs of the same sex. You may be surprised to learn that this rule still applies when one or both dogs is spayed or neutered.

When pairing dogs of the opposite sex, it can lead to a whole new set of problems if you are not careful. If your mini schnauzer is an unspayed female, you need to take into consideration her reproductive cycle when planning a play date. Avoid play dates when your female is in season or in the late stage of pregnancy. Finding the perfect playmate is a good start for planning a play date, so what’s next?

  1. The Mamas and the Papas

One way to prepare for a fun play date is to make sure your pup’s playmate has a responsible pet owner. You work hard to protect your schnauzer’s health, and you want to make sure that your dog’s playmate is healthy too! Talk to the pet owner about her dog’s vet care. Here are the things you need to know: Is the playmate current on his shots? Does he have fleas? Is the dog worm-free?

You may feel a little awkward, but if the pet owner is responsible, she will completely understand your concern. I like to take a non-confrontational approach. Instead of asking a bunch of questions, I have a conversation with the pet owner about my vet care protocol. Usually the conversation will naturally lead to the pet owner’s sharing her information as well.

  1. Location, Location, Location

Your pup is ready to party and you found a good playmate, so what’s next? You have to pick a place for your play date. The location of the first play date is incredibly important, and you need to pick an area that’s free of unplanned distractions. A backyard or a room in your home is a great choice; a park is not.

The problem with using your own home is that your schnauzer is the king of his castle. Your dog may be mild-mannered, but bringing a new dog into your home can bring out his inner beast.

There are a couple easy steps you can take to convert your living room or backyard into a more neutral area for a play date. Make sure you completely remove your dog’s food and treats from the area, and you also need to put away all the dog toys. That probably seems like a weird step to take for a play date, but toys are serious business to dogs. You can introduce toys after the dogs meet and settle down, and after you have a chance to assess their behavior.

  1. Keep Calm and Pet Your Dog

One of the most important things you can do to ensure a successful play date is relax. It’s only natural to feel excited, but don’t let your nerves get the best of you. If you are feeling anxious, your dog will sense it and will become anxious as well.

Mini schnauzers are protective of the people they love and can often be suspicious of new people. Your dog’s behavior will reflect your energy, and if you are concerned, your dog may think you feel threatened by his new playmate. If your dog’s protective instinct is triggered, he will be in no mood to play. So just remember the point of the play date; it’s to have fun!

  1. Don’t Forget the Leashes!

Leashes are essential when introducing your dog to his new playmate. Sniffing his playmate is your dog’s version of a handshake, and you need to give your dog and his playmate the freedom to check each other out. The leash is simply a precaution in case either of the dogs suddenly displays aggression. Once the dogs have enough time to get acquainted and show you that they are friendly, you can remove the leashes.

Don’t try to force an interaction between your dog and his new playmate. You want to take your cues from him, and he may not be comfortable enough to start playing right away. Respect your dog’s boundaries and those of his playmate, and let him and his new friend initiate contact and play.

It’s Time to Play!

Exercise is essential for your miniature schnauzer’s health and quality of life, and a doggy play date is a fun way for your dog to get a workout. Preparation and planning are important, especially for the first play date with a new dog. Your reward will be a happy dog when your schnauzer turns into a social butterfly!

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