Meeting people is never easy, but it’s even harder when you’re trying to find friends for both you and your dog. After all, it’s good for your four-legged pal to interact with members of his or her own species, but everyone has to get along.

If it’s love at first site for the pooches but you don’t really get along with the owner, that’s going to be a pretty boring playdate for the humans. And it’s just as bad if you’re friendly with someone but the dogs spend the entire time barking and growling — or just have very different energy levels.

Still, just like dating, you can’t give up because it’s difficult, so here are several ways you can make doggy acquaintances and eventually find a few great friends for your dogs and you. Here are four ways to socialize your dog:

Head to the dog park

This one should be obvious, but it’s worth mentioning for the same reason you’d tell a friend to head to a bar to meet someone — generally speaking, the dogs (and people) who frequent dog parks play nicely and may be interested in hanging out. Plus, you get to see the dogs interact in a safe environment and get a built-in conversation starter.

Take a class

Obedience classes and other kinds of dog training workshops are great places to meet other owners and pups who may be interested in spending more time together with you. Even better, you’ll be able to get a sense of both the other dogs’ owners throughout the class and pick out the ones you’re interested in approaching.

Go to the pet store

Dogs have to eat, right? While most owners don’t bring their dogs with them to the pet store all of the time, many do it at least from time to time, so there’s a definite opportunity here to meet people and their pooches. Of all the options, though, this is probably the least natural, because most people going to the pet store aren’t looking to talk and hang out — they simply want to pick up what their dog needs and get home.

Join a rescue

Want to meet other people who love and have dogs? A rescue or other type of dog volunteer organization can be a wonderful way to meet like-minded people in an environment that’s conducive to getting to know each other. Just be careful about the canine part of this equation. While most rescue dogs are completely harmless, there are some that may be suffering from behavioral problems due to the tough life they’ve led, and you need to know what you’re getting your dog — and yourself — into.

Are there other places you can think of to make doggy friends? Where have you made your “dog” friends? Tell us your story in the comments.

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