cute messy dog

If you live in an area where cold temperatures, snow and ice are the norm for winter weather, then the warmer days of spring are a welcome sight. Additionally, if you and your pooch enjoy socializing with your friends outdoors, then you are likely looking forward to being released from the confines of your home as warmer weather approaches.  And you can be sure that your canine companion is just as excited to head out the door to play as you are.  Here are a few ideas to get both you and your pet out and socializing once again.

- The Dog Park:  If your area has a local dog park, this is the ideal spot for frequent exercise.  You can enjoy nature while your pet has a chance to stretch his legs and burn off some energy.  You can even turn it into a play date by scheduling time with your dog-loving friends to meet up at the same time.  That will give you a chance to catch up with your friends while your dogs burn off energy together.

- Pet Friendly Parks and Trails:  You can also coordinate with your friends to meet up for a hike at your local park or hiking trail.  Just be sure to respect leash policies and pick up after your dog and dispose of it properly.

- Family Vacation: A family vacation to a pet friendly destination is always a hit.  Many campgrounds are pet friendly and there are resorts that are not only pet friendly but also have doggie day care centers.  It’s a great way to travel with your dog while also offering opportunities for him to socialize with other dogs.

- Dog Party: If we humans can have parties, why not our dogs?  Throw a dog party in your backyard and invite your friends who have dogs.  You can have a fun, dog related theme and include dog friendly treats and games.  Again, it’s a great way to catch up with your friends while your dogs have a tail-wagging time playing with each other.

- Doggie Day Care:  If your schedule doesn’t allow you to take time away to go socialize with your dog, consider doggie day care at a facility managed by trained and caring staff members.  This will give your dog the opportunity to socialize with other dogs and will give you the peace of mind that your companion is being well taken care of.

Whichever of these activities you choose; there are some important considerations to keep in mind.  These factors are especially important outside of a professionally controlled setting like doggie day care.  An article entitled “Social Groups for Dogs” posted by Lynn Buzhardt, DVM on the VCA Hospitals website lists the following five considerations:

1. Health status verification. Make sure all dogs have updated immunizations for communicable canine diseases transmitted by coughing or close contact. Puppies should complete their initial series of immunizations before being exposed to other dogs. Dogs should also be free of fleas and intestinal parasites. Since this is difficult to enforce in dog parks, make sure your dog is vaccinated and has a good flea and intestinal parasite prevention program that will protect him from dogs that don’t.

2. Temperament assessment. Participating dogs should have compatible temperaments. There will usually be an alpha dog in the group, but even the “top dog” should be well behaved and not aggressive. Both you and your dog should feel safe in the group. It’s best for females to avoid social groups during their heat cycles.

3. Controlled dogs. Owners should have complete control of their dogs on leash and off. Dogs should respond to their owners’ voice commands and should respect their canine peers, especially when dogs of varying sizes are grouped together.

4. Compatible level of physical activity. Energetic dogs enjoy physically active companions. Couch potatoes prefer calmer friends. Find a group compatible with your dog’s level of physical activity.

5. Bio Breaks. Pet owners should pick up and dispose of animal waste promptly. When visiting friends or attending puppy classes, elimination etiquette is essential and dog parks are not latrines. Playtime makes dogs thirsty so find a source of fresh water or bring along bottled water and a collapsible water bowl.

So now that you have a few activity options, start counting down the days to warmer weather and start making your plans to head outside to play.  If you choose doggie day care, your friends at All About Paws are trained and ready to offer your dog a wonderful day in a safe and fun environment.  Give us a call!


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