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Photo by Hans Surfer

How To Find Playmates For Your Havanese

The Havanese is an extremely social dog and positive play time experiences are critical to its development and well-being. If you’re one of the estimated 30% of American (dog owner) homes with two or more dogs play time is likely not an issue. For the remaining 70% of us, finding playmates take some effort.

It is important to find playmates that are well-suited to your dog in terms of size and temperament. The forums are rife with Havanese owners chronicling terrible experiences often involving larger, more aggressive breeds.

meetup-logo-havaneseThe ideal playmates in the mind of many owners, are other Havanese dogs. One way to meet other Havanese dogs in your area is to look on www.meetup.com, a website where groups of every ilk form, organize, communicate, and disseminate their information.

In my case there is a Havanese Meet Up group with 91 members. They hold two free play dates (meet ups) every month at a nearby dog park.

If there is not a Meetup group near you, why not start one?

The responsibilities are nominal; you form your group online, decide where and when you want to meet, and people come! You’ll want to spread the word through the forums, breed clubs, social media such as Facebook, or flyers in local pet stores – but people go to the website looking for these activities so the chances are there is some pent-up demand in your area.

It’s worth noting that you do not have to form a breed-specific group. There are many groups formed based on size, such as toy breeds or dogs under 15-20 pounds, you decide.

Below is a video from the Havanese MeetUp group I attend with my Hav.

The Meetup group that I attend holds their play dates at a dog park. There is a significant percentage of dog owners that will not take their dog to a dog park. As laudable as the concept of an off leash dog park is, there are a number of attendant risks;

  • Sick or unhealthy dogs that are not completely and properly vaccinated.
  • Aggressive dogs.
  • The formation of packs in the instinctive urge to form a rank order. Any time three or more dogs a simple they will form a pecking order. In some cases it will be quick and imperceptible, in other cases there may be vocalization and mouthing that can escalate.

The dog park discussion is protracted and for another day, but if you’re uncomfortable with dog parks, you can as I have, make contacts and meet with your Havanese elsewhere, such as homes, other parks, and dog activity centers such as K-9 Fun Zone.

Breed Forums

Screencap from Havanese Talk showing activity announcements.
Screencap from Havanese Talk showing activity announcements.

Havanese breed forums such as Havanese Forum and Havanese Talk beyond their general utility, are a good way to connect with owners in your geographic area. You’ll often see playdates, picnics, and even birthday parties planned.

Ask Your Breeder

You might have littermates nearby and not even know it. They likely keep in touch with previous buyers and can match you up geographically as well.

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and Instagram are great places to let it be known you’re furkid is looking for playdates.

Ask Your Groomer

They know the Havanese and certainly the other toy breeds in the area. Make a little notice with your phone number on tear-off strips.

Doggy Day Care

Many dog day care facilities accommodate dogs just for play and socialization. They should ask for proof that your dog is fully vaccinated. If they don’t ask you, they didn’t ask anyone else – so be careful.

Dog Play Facilities

In some areas of the country, particularly urban, dedicated dog activity facilities have sprung up to meet the need of people just like you. Use The Google!

Pet Store Play Times

May larger pet retailers such as Petco and PetSmart offer in-store play or socialization classes. You’ll want to be extremely careful as they rarely enforce their proof of vaccination requirements and you may find yourself in very close proximity to other larger, more aggressive breeds.


With all the caveats about using craigslist carefully, I was able to find the most wonderful playmate for Rory. His name is Romeo and he’s a three-year-old fixed male Havanese with a sweet personality. As an added bonus he lives just a few minutes away and his owner brings him faithfully every Tuesday for a play date. He’s a little bigger and a little stronger, but they play really well together and neither one tries to dominate the other. The two Havs seem to really love each other and their time together as you can see in this video.

Local Dog Walkers

Often they have clients just like you, looking for social interaction and play time for their dogs. Best off, they know who is a match in terms of size, temperament, and energy level.

About Gary Fujioka, Sr.

Gary Fujioka, Sr. is a lifelong dog owner, first time Havanese owner. He is a proud father and grandfather, online presence management consultant, software developer, writer, musician, CEO of The Pathmark Group of Companies, and publisher of Havanese World.

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