Of course your dog loves you - he follows you from room to room, he's always ready to accompany you on a walk, and if you're away even for just a few minutes, he greets you like a long-lost friend when you return. But as much as your dog loves you, chances are that your company doesn't meet all his social and emotional needs. As much he enjoys your companionship, he also craves the company of his own kind. In short, he needs one or more doggie playmates. "Finding playmates and setting up playdates before your dog is 16 weeks of age is critical to a dog's social development," says trainer Laura Sharkey, owner of Woofs! Dog Training Center, a training, daycare and boarding facility in Arlington, Virginia. "After the age of 16 weeks, playdates help to maintain and continue the development of social skills learned before 16 weeks. And at any time, playdates are useful for burning off energy! No one can exercise a dog like another dog can." Finding a playmate for your four-legged friend can be fairly easy. A progressive doggie daycare or a training center that holds puppy socialization events are two great ways to help your dog find a new pooch playmate. But just like with people, dogs don't get along equally well with all other dogs. When evaluating a potential playmate for your canine companion, keep the following factors in mind: Health status. Before you agree to a playdate with another dog, "make sure that you know that the other dog is vaccinated against parvovirus and distemper," says Sharkey. "Young dogs should not be around unknown puppies until they have had their first two rounds of shots, which they usually receive by the age of 10 weeks." Doggie daycares and obedience classes usually require that dogs be up-to-date on their shots, but if you're contemplating setting up a playdate for your dog with your neighbor's pooch, you need to know whether that dog is fully immunized. Size. If your dog is a Chihuahua, Maltese, Yorkshire Terrier or other toy breed, his playmates should be tiny, too. "Size becomes the most important factor when you are dealing with toy breeds because of the danger of inadvertent injury because of [the toy dog's] unnaturally small size," says Sharkey. Social smarts. Ideally, the dog you choose for your canine companion's playmate knows how to handle himself with other dogs. "Find out if the playmates are friendly!" urges Sharkey. "A good question to ask is 'does your dog play off leash with other dogs regularly?' Be careful introducing new dogs to each other, but be extra careful if the playmate does not regularly play with other dogs." Play style. Different dogs have different ways of playing. Some like to chase their buddies around the yard, others go in for herding and while still others like to body-slam or wrestle. Know how your dog likes to play, and make sure the other dog enjoys playing the same way. "Dogs need to be matched by play style," says Sharkey. "Do not let your dog get pounded by another dog, and do not let your dog bully another dog. Do not let them 'work it out' if they don't get along. If your dog is having a bad experience, stop the interaction and find a playmate that better matches you dog's temperament and play style!"