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How to find pup friends for your large dog to socialize with

The world has no shortage of dogs, but it can be surprisingly tricky to find a friend for your colossal canine to play with, especially if you’re still learning how to socialize a dog. Although it stems from misconceptions, many people, unfortunately, give large breeds a bad rap, which can spread unnecessary fear and apprehension. Once you find a friend who’s willing to give it a shot, socializing dogs will be just as fun as it is educational.

Learning about socializing dogs begins with small interactions with other people and pups, but once you’re past that stage, it’s time to teach your large dog how to actually interact with others. These are a few ways you might be able to locate and meet up with other pet parents whose pups could use some playtime. It’s worth a shot!

Take a trip to the dog park

Where do dogs typically meet friends? At the dog park, of course! This can be a fantastic way to let your pup say hi to some new acquaintances in a controlled environment. And you can meet their owners, too! If your furry friend seems to take a liking to another dog, try asking their owner if they’d agree to meet up at the dog park again sometime.

If this seems like too big of a leap for your newly socialized large dog, don’t worry! Try walking your dog around the dog park instead of letting him inside. This way, he can approach the fence at his own speed and meet other dogs through a protective barrier. No one’s space will be violated, and no one will get hurt should any issue arise.

A Malinois and a Border Collie run with a large rope toy
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Browse Meetup’s website has been helping people, well, meet up for years, and there’s a reason why it’s still around today. You can use keywords and your location to browse for groups of all kinds, including meetups for your large-breed dog. Each group operates differently, but you can use this site to RSVP for meetups and to meet other dog owners with similar goals for their furry friends.

Try the Nextdoor app

If you’re looking for a walking buddy or someone to meet nearby, an app like Nextdoor that connects you with your neighbors might be your best bet. This handy program has a feature called Pet Directory that lets you browse local pets as well as add a profile for your own dog. This is handy in case of an emergency since it will help your neighbors identify your large furry friend, but it can be used for making friends, too.

When you make your dog’s profile, you’ll need to include his name, a picture, his address, and any distinguishing features your pet has. When you’re ready to reach out to a new friend, use the directory and the app’s messaging feature to do so.

Try out BarkHappy

Trust us, this is the app you’ve been looking for. BarkHappy describes itself as a “location based social discovery app for dog owners,” which basically means it helps you connect with anything — and anyone — dog related in your area. You can find meetups, pet-friendly businesses, and even other pet parents with this app, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for a new friend for your pup. As always, be safe when meeting up with anyone you engage with online!

A big group of dogs--mostly Golden Retrievers--runs through a field
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Take a class with your dog

If your large dog is still learning how to interact with other people and pets, you may benefit from a socialization class. Typically, you and your dog will meet up with other dogs and owners on a weekly basis to practice socialization skills. Of course, you’ll need to put in daily work at home, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your dog is learning to become the best buddy he can be.

Here’s the best part: While you’re attending classes, you’re giving your dog a chance to make friends. It won’t be tricky to get in touch with your pup’s friend’s owners if they’re right there in class with you, so there’s no reason not to give it a shot.

Search Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups is another way that folks from across the world are connecting with one another. Simply type in something like “dog meetups in California” to see what pops up. Even if there isn’t a group that gives you exactly what you’re looking for, it’s a great way to connect with other dog owners. You never know whom you may meet or what other helpful resources you may come across.

If none of these methods works for you, you can always go old school by asking around. Your vet or groomer may know of a meetup group or even just a nice person who could use a walking buddy for themselves and their dog. There’s no telling who or what might come your way no matter where you start your search. Just remember to be smart and safe!

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Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
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