Puppylove and doggie dates

Oct 6, 2009 at 5:37 a.m. ET

Cute, cuddly and completely adorable, even the smartest, most lovable puppies have a lot to learn about the world and their surroundings.

Marley & Me puppies

From the time they are first born, puppies have their littermates and mommas to keep them company and enjoy the world around them. As the puppies grow old enough and strong enough to join families of their own, they need a little help in preparing for on adventures of their own. Showing your new pet warm, loving care and introducing new people, places and things are both critical to the most cohesive development of a puppy's disposition.

Enhancing Your Puppy's Social Circles…

As with young children, socializing your new puppy can be just as important as proper housebreaking and disciplined training sessions. Before you have any uncomfortable run-ins at the vet's office, make efforts to introduce your pet to other pooches. Taking your puppy on play dates with other dogs can really impact his or her character while also building a pleasant social routine for both of you.

Taking your little pup for a walk through the park makes a great first start at seeing how your new family member will react to other pets and unknown people. Before socializing your puppy with other dogs and people, be sure that he or she has received all puppy shots. Consistency in socializing the young pet with an assortment of different people and pets, will aid your pup's best traits in shining through. Something as simple as bringing your new puppy into town one day will add the element of new and unexplored territory, mixed with unfamiliar people and maybe even a few unfamiliar pets.

Depending on your dog's breed and interests, playing Frisbee, having a catch with a tennis ball or chasing each other around grassy areas provide enjoyable means of getting a healthy dose of exercise. By incorporating other people, gentle children and other dogs into the equation, your young pup will reap the biggest benefit in outgrowing timidity and shyness while learning to play nice with others.

If friends have a new puppy or even a dog that's been with the family for many years, consider getting together with them at a neutral location like a park, or host a small get-together at one of your homes to socialize the pets. Keep them under close supervision, but allow them to explore the area and get to know one another. No matter how young or old pets and people might be, socializing your new puppy with a variety of friendly strangers will tremendously improve his or her social behavior and general temperament.

When Puppy Love Sneaks Up…

Perhaps a bit cliché from all the exposure in the movies, singles often express an interest in members of the opposite sex who clearly love animals. Allowing two pets to become close companions can be positive for their dispositions and overall happiness.

Should two singles meet, both walking their own pet, a mutual double date for owners and pets could be a great icebreaker! While guardians get to know each other, pets may enjoy the new company, whether walking along side-by-side or frolicking in the park. Below are a few date ideas for anyone tickled by puppy love!

Fun Double Dates for Pet-Lovers:

  • A walk or a gentle jog in the park
  • A trip to a dog-friendly restaurant or bakery
  • An adorable photo session with a disposable camera
  • A trip to a pet-friendly beach
  • A casual roller-blading excursion
  • Visit a pet boutique or pet-friendly store that allows you to shop together