As much as we wish, we can’t just put two dogs together and expect them to become friends and share endless, adorable play sessions. Pay attention to the compatibility aspects in order to connect your dog with the right playmates.
No matter how much we think a pair of dogs would be great together, ultimately the dogs will decide whether they will be BFFs or even just friends. We can maximize the likelihood that a beautiful friendship will flourish by keeping the following considerations in mind.
1. Do they have compatible play styles? Sure, most dogs love to play, but they may not play in the same way. There are dogs who like to chase and run back and forth endlessly. engage in a rough game of wrestle; or play stalking games. Some dogs are much calmer in their game, preferring to gently slap their paws at each other or hop close to each other while others beat each other, both while running and wrestling.
Get the barge in your inbox!
Sign up for our newsletter and stay up to date.
No style of play is better than the other, but the dogs must be compatible. They don’t necessarily have to have the same favorite style of play as long as there is one they enjoy mutually. What you don’t want is one dog trying to chase while the other dog is trying to wrestle. Game sessions only go well when the playmates are trying to play the same game and they are both enjoying it.
2. Do their sizes adequately match? Dogs certainly don’t have to be the same size to be good friends and play friends, but there are some benefits to being in the same general area. If the size of the dogs is a good match, there is less chance of injury. It can also make it easier for dogs to play without having to make it easy for a much smaller play partner. Dogs of similar size can play without holding back.
Even so, some of the best dog lovers in the world vary greatly in size, with the larger dog being an expert at reaching the level of the smaller dog. Watching a small dog run over the back of a large dog or how a large dog plays with a small dog while lying down is a lot of fun – as long as both dogs are having fun and not endangering each other.
3. How old are you? Dogs don’t have to be the same or even close to old to have fun playing together, but age still matters. The balance between exuberance, endurance and energy is always a plus, and age influences these factors. The biggest problem with dogs of very different ages is that younger dogs often want to play much longer, even when an older dog has had enough. It’s not uncommon for an old dog to be excited to play – at least for a few minutes.
Mating an older dog with a boy who wants to play morning, noon, and evening can cause problems. At the very least, the young dog can get sad and disappointed, maybe even temporarily, to start a future game with the older dog. Or worse, the younger dog may refuse to give up; This can upset the older dog who can get aggressive to let the pesky, stubborn younger dog know that such youthful rudeness will not be tolerated. Many pairs of dogs of different ages get along wonderfully, but it’s important to protect a senior from a boy who won’t take no for an answer and a younger dog from an older dog who tells her to put him in one knocking off possibly scary path.
4. Do both owners have similar views about the game? A good dog game session isn’t just about the dogs. Owners also play a role in success. Decisions need to be made when dogs play together, and it is best if the owners of both dogs have the same attitude towards them. Is it okay if treats are available? How about some toys? Do the owners agree on what constitutes an appropriate game? What behaviors do the dogs cause their people to step in and ask the dogs to rest? What behaviors cause one of the owners to try to redirect the dogs to another activity? Do both owners agree that they must be careful and monitor the game, or do they think ignoring the dogs is a better strategy? Or, heavenly, do you think that whatever happens, the dogs “have to figure it out for themselves”?
5. Does the other dog play well? Dogs can play exuberantly and with great energy, but if both dogs are willing participants having a good time, that’s a good sign. On the other hand, if one dog finds the other dog scary or overwhelming, that’s not okay. Dogs who are relentless, pushy, or rude don’t play well, and they aren’t the best playmates. Even if she is not afraid, it makes sense to protect a dog from bad play. Not only can this lead to no fun situations, but it can also teach a dog that such behavior is an acceptable way of playing.
6. Does the other dog have bad habits that your dog should not break? As social animals, our dogs also learn from each other while playing. Like children who play with an unruly friend after a while, dogs pick up bad habits from other dogs. Such contagious behavior can include barking from passers-by, growling at a fence and falling on a dog on the other side, digging, and howling. Sometimes people are quick to assume that their puppy picked up unhappy behavior from a playmate, even though the dog likely developed such behavior on its own. However, there is no doubt that dogs can acquire unhappy habits from other dogs. Therefore, it is a smart idea to choose playmates who do not exhibit these behaviors.
7. Does your dog like the other dog? Is the other dog one that your dog is interested in and wants to play with? The heart wants what the heart wants, and one of the best reasons to choose a play partner for your dog is that your dog loves the other dog. As long as there are no red flags, why not choose dog play dates that will make your dog the happiest, most ardent and enthusiastic player?
May your dog have many happy hours of play with dogs that are a perfect match. Let the games begin!
Memory: Collars and, to a lesser extent, harnesses can cause problems with active dog play. Teeth and buckles get caught or markings twist and before you know it both dogs freak out – unable to separate and possibly harm themselves or the other dog in a life or death battle. Chain and prong collars are the worst culprits (and I’m against using these two types of collars anyway), but entanglements can occur with all types. The risk can be offset by investing in a tear-away collar or simply removing the collars at game time.