Making new friends can be a challenge; this can be even more intimidating when you’re trying to find canine friends for your dog. We’ll help you out by providing a few sources for connections and some practical advice to consider before you head to the dog park.
Before you enter into any situation where your pet is interacting with other animals, make sure their vaccinations are up to date and that you have a current pet insurance policy. It’s always a good idea to bring your dog insurance information with you on the go – it’s almost as important as the leash!
If you’re looking to make pet friends, you don’t have to go it alone. There are great resources out there for finding a play group. To get started, touch base with your pet’s supporters:
-Ask your vet.
-Ask your pet’s trainer.
-Did you adopt your pet at a shelter? Give them a call or check their website.
You can also look for leads in the places where you go for pet-related and community-oriented activities:
-Check with your local pet supply store to see if they organize or know of any groups.
-Look at the bulletin boards in community centers for dog- or cat-friendly events.
-The pet insurance company blogs are full of advice for dog lovers who are looking for ways to give their pup an even happier life.
And don’t forget that the best resources may be the people you already know. Ask your friends who have pets if they have any ideas: Even if your dogs are radically different sizes or incompatible playmates, your network may have more ideas for getting social with your dog.
There are a couple of great apps out there to help pet owners connect. Meetup.com has a variety of groups available, many of which are geared specifically toward specific breeds or areas of interest (canine and human).
While cat cafes have popped up in most major American cities, most don’t allow you to bring your own pet. Meanwhile, dog-friendly apps abound:
-Twindog offers to connect shy pups and their owners for free.
-If you prefer a more organic experience, check out Sniffspot. They’ll help you locate the best dog-friendly locations in your area and even let you book a safe space for your pup (and friends) to play.
-If you’re interested in meeting up outside the local parks system, browse dog-friendly establishments on BringFido.
One of our favorite cities for dog lovers is Madison, Wisconsin. Dane County’s dog parks and pet advice are well-researched and wildly helpful. Be sure to read up on their safety recommendations and make sure you have pet health insurance before heading to one of the Madison’s pet-friendly parks.
This may be where most people think to start, but Facebook groups based on your interests (which, of course, include your pet) are a great place to find connections. Facebook and Eventbrite are great sites to check for pop-up events where dogs are welcome.
Local shelters and rescues may be hosting fundraisers where pet owners can gather (and bring their pups). Follow their accounts online or sign up for their newsletters to stay in the loop.
If you’re a big fan of pet accounts on Instagram or other image-sharing sites, consider amping up your own pet portraits with local hashtags. Pretty much every city and town has a variation of #dogsof followed by the name of the city or town. It’s a great way to search for and identify other passionate pet owners near you.
When it comes to dog meetup groups, we recommend erring on the side of asking too many questions. Don’t hesitate to contact the organizer to ask any questions you may have about the event in advance:
-Are there specific vaccination requirements?
-Are there dog insurance requirements for canine attendees?
-Is there any entrance fee?
Wherever you’re headed, we also advocate for treating every party like it’s BYOB (bring your own bowl). Have water and food, bags for waste, and a leash or lead as needed.
If you’re headed to a restaurant with an outdoor patio where there will be other pets, make sure you have an exit strategy in case your pet gets anxious or uncomfortable. The same goes for if you’re headed to a pop-up bar or an indoor event.
Make sure you’re ready for the weather. If the weather is cold or rainy, be sure to bring a towel or blanket to help dry your dog off so they don’t get or stay wet for too long.
Always bring documentation. You never know what could happen, so it’s a good idea to have your pet’s vaccination record and pet insurance information handy.
Bivvy pet insurance is an affordable way to keep your pet covered before you leave home.
If you’re thinking about planning a meetup event, we recommend getting to know the local pet community first. Attend a couple of events to make sure you know what’s necessary (and to find our what kinds of meetups other might be interested in).
Whether you’re interested in organizing a hike, a barbeque, or a doggy yoga class at the local community center, make sure you do your due diligence. Find out if the location has requirements around dog insurance, and communicate this information to your guests well in advance.
This will help you figure out whether or not you’ll need to reserve a space or take any other measures to get your pet meetup up and running.
One of the best parts of dog ownership is having a friend who wants to take you outside every day of the week (a few times a day). Your dog provides an easy excuse to make conversation with strangers. You don’t even need to worry about instigating the interaction – your dog may just do it for you!
If your pup is friendly, they’ll do some of the work of making dog dates by connecting with other pets. Be sure to give them the leeway and opportunities to make their own friends, even when they’re securely on-leash.