Puppy Playtime at Petco is Free! What You Need to Know

Socializing with other dogs and people is important for your puppy’s development.

Petco is encouraging people to bring their puppies in with their free playtime incentive, so that they can learn to play with others and mix with people.

  • Playtime is usually for 30 minutes.
  • It is a supervised environment.
  • Important social skills are gained.
  • Puppy Playtime is usually on Saturday and Sunday at 1 pm.
  • Your puppy will learn to play and mix well.
  • Make sure your puppy has had their vaccinations.

It would be best to check your local Petco to ensure that branch is participating, but most realize the value of these free puppy playtimes.

If a puppy is isolated at home, they will miss out on learning valuable social skills, such as not biting or nipping others. They learn that they cannot do whatever they want; the ‘pack’ (as in other dogs and owners) will not allow a rampant puppy to misbehave.

This experience is valuable to an 8 week to six-month-old puppy who is still learning about life skills.

Petco has a Petco Positive Dog Trainer onsite to oversee the playtime, and they can smooth out any disrupting incidences.


Puppy Playtime is Fun Time for Young Pups.

So what is puppy playtime, what does it achieve?

Your puppy will be meeting other puppies their age and learning how to interact with them appropriately.

Puppies can be a bit rough on others they meet before they learn that biting hard or playing too rough is unacceptable. Petco provides a special, secure area where you and your puppy can get to know others.

During this time, a Positive Dog Trainer is on-site to watch over the playtime. They can step in and stop your puppy from being bullied.

They also advise owners on how to stop certain behavior without resorting to harsh punishment techniques.


It’s Very Good for a Puppy’s Socialization

Your puppy won’t always remain small, they can grow into a much larger dog, and if they still have uncontrolled behavior, then it is a more serious issue.

A full-grown dog who has behavior issues can severely injure another dog or person.

Puppy socialization should be fun, it shouldn’t overstimulate your puppy, and shouldn’t cause fear or withdrawal. Let your puppy get to know other pets at their own pace.

Some puppies are quite timid and may hide and watch the other pups during the first few visits. That is fine; let them watch on until they feel confident to step out and join in the fun.

The more visits you make with your puppy to Petco Playtime, the more confident your puppy will become, and they will learn more skills about meeting strangers. 


3-17 Weeks Old Is Important for Socialization

Puppies have a ‘critical socialization period’ which is approximately between 3 -17 weeks of age. What they learn through experience will shape their behavior well into adulthood.

Puppy school is usually targeting pups between the age of 8 – 18 weeks to take advantage of this window of opportunity to enable puppies to learn crucial life lessons. A puppy should be with it’s mom and then settling into its new home before then.

A puppy needs to interact with other people and pets, not just the ones at home.

They need to learn to contain their excitement when meeting others. They need to learn not to jump up on people.

Once a puppy learns how to behave with others, you can feel confident taking them out with you to your friends’ homes who may or may not have pets.

You can take your pet to the park without having to continually apologize for your puppy’s behavior.

You can take them to the beach, knowing that they will respond to your calls to come back.

Having a service like Petco’s puppy playtime is an ideal opportunity to get out with your puppy and teach them about how to get on with their peers.

So why not make the most of this free service?


Scientific Reasons You Should Socialize your Puppy.

Your young puppy is inherently a pack animal, which they get from their ancient wolf ancestors. They are happiest in a group where they can socialize with other members, they are protected and have the advantage when hunting to work together to bring down large prey.

Being a pack member was and still is a very important function of dogs today.

  • Socialization reduces fear and anxiety for your puppy.
  • Exposure to a variety of situations and environments when they are young builds up their confidence.
  • It helps with bonding between puppy and owner (they rely on you to be near when experiencing something new until they are confident on their own). You and your family become your puppies pack.
  • It is easier to go places with a dog that trusts people and other dogs. They are more outgoing and can be trusted with small children and pets that they meet.
  • Veterinary visits are easier if your dog regularly meets people and gets handled by others. They won’t fear the vet, and handling will be easy.


Reasons It’s Effective Socialization & Training

  • Social gatherings keep a young puppy fit. They play till they drop almost. At Petco Playtime the groups of people and animals are smaller to allow your puppy to play and feel safe within the group.
  • At a group like Petco Playtime, your puppy starts to learn about controlled puppy play and bite inhibition. A puppy that is a bully will be removed from the group for a few minutes, and then returned. They will soon get the message if it happens a few times. They don’t want to miss the fun so they will start to behave.
  • Interaction with other dogs and humans helps your puppy to develop roles in the hierarchy. In your pack (aka family), you need to be the top dog, not your puppy! This is essential so that they listen to you and you can control them. A dog that won’t listen or obey is a social nightmare.


Other Free Areas to Socialize Your Puppy

There are many areas in your neighborhood that you can get out with your puppy for a bit of socializing.

  • A few dog owners can get together at a home, and while the puppies or dogs play, you can enjoy a coffee while overseeing the play.
  • Parks are ideal to stroll around with your puppy on a leash. They are contained by the leash, which protects them from running out onto a road,  yet they can still meet and greet other people and pets.
  • A dog-friendly park offers a fenced area for puppies and dogs to play. You will just need to watch out for the larger dogs as their play can get a bit rough, and your puppy could be hurt. Avoid a large crowd and going when it is a quieter time is best at the beginning.
  • Dog-friendly beaches are always a great place to meet other puppies and dogs on neutral ground. If you are a bit unsure, just keep your little pup on a leash. They need to be trained to come back to you when you call if you let them free to mingle.
  • Puppy playschool is an ideal way to meet and greet others. Many large pet product super shops offer a free puppy school which is very similar to the free Petco Playtime.
  • A quiet stroll around your neighborhood is a great way to meet other puppy owners and allows your pup to make new friends.
  • Vet-organized puppy schools may not be free, but they are often inexpensive and your puppy will learn a lot, so they are worth checking out.
  • Be the instigator of a ‘take your dog to work for a day’ with your workplace. What a great experience for your puppy and it’s free!

Always be on the alert when your puppy is mixing with a lot of adult dogs, and be prepared to whip in and lift your puppy out of harm’s way if the play gets rough.

While an adult dog will not mean to hurt a small pup, they can get excited during play and accidentally hurt a smaller dog.



With Petco offering free playtime for your pet, it would be crazy not to take advantage of this and take your puppy along for a bit of a social outing.

Puppies are usually outgoing and enjoy meeting new pets and people. Plus you have the advantage of introducing them to new places such as car parks, shops, sidewalks, and of course, people of all sizes, both young and old. They also get to meet people with beards, glasses, hats, facial hair, etc.

Going out into the community you have the opportunity to get your puppy used to new sounds such as motorbikes, scooters, traffic noise, and they get used to riding in your car.

People talking, children fighting or yelling. All these things are part of life, so your puppy needs to adapt to them.

Use the free playtime on offer at Petco to your advantage. The benefits will be wide-ranging for your puppy, who will learn so much more about life than just staying confined to your back yard.

Writer: Jean Brewer

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