Alice W. Leung


Doggie Playdate Case Study

Contextual Inquiry, User Research, Surveys

Researchers: L. Garel, N. Dozier, D. Hankes, A. Leung

Research Space


Dogs usually have to stay home while their owners work. This limits the amount of exercise they get during the day. In our experience, many dog owners who want to socialize while their dogs exercise have a difficult time finding other dogs for a play date.

What we want to fiind out

In this project, we aim to improve the physical and mental health of dogs by encouraging and facilitating doggie playdates. Specifically, we asked how can we improve the experience of finding a doggie play date?


Market Competition

Looking into what existing apps are already out there

This company aims to track a dog’s daily activity and sets its personalized fitness goals, which does not have the social interaction aspect for the dogs.


This company is a dating application which allows dog owners to connect and schedule a date with each other and their dogs. While this app has potential to schedule a playdate for the dogs, the target is more socialization for the owner rather than the dog.

Dog Meetup Groups

These meetup groups exist in multiple cities around the country; however, these are scheduled events not intended for impromptu doggie play dates.


Observation Findings

We observed how dogs interact with humans, how dogs interact with dogs, and their behaviors in a public setting.
Participant Information

Our team went to dog parks and doggie daycares. We observed dog owners, doggie daycare attendants, friends of dog owners, puppies, dogs and children (who came with adult dog owners). There were 16 dog owners and 25 dogs (various breeds and sizes).

Data Collection Methods

We used the AEIOU Framework to record activities. Each team member observed at least 1 dog owner. Observations lasted approximately 90 minutes.

Behaviorial Trends
  • Dog owners did not separate large dogs from small dogs
  • If there was a temperament concern, the dog owner either separated their dog until the dog calmed down or left the park.
  • Dog owners approached each other after their dogs began playing together.
  • Dog owners constantly watched their dogs.

Affinity Diagram

Interview Findings

Participant Information

We interviewed friends, family, and acquaintances who own dogs, and asked questions in-person and over the phone. There are 5 dog owners with 6 dogs (various breeds and owners).

Data Collection Methods

We created interview protocol to standardize questions, and interviewed approximately for 45 minutes. Notes recorded by typing on laptop or writing in notebook.

Dog Walking Habits
  • 2 participants walk their dogs daily. 1 participant walks her dogs 2-3 times a week. 1 participant walks his dogs once a week. All participants walk their dogs to a local park or around their neighborhoods.
  • Participants reported dog owners typically leave the dog park early because parks were empty.
  • Only 2 participants use doggie daycares at least once a week, and reported good experience because their dogs can socialize with other dogs while they are at work. They have, however, concern about the additional expense.
Current Meetup Patterns
  • Most participants have not setup any official social events for their dogs.
  • 2 participants unofficially setup social events for their dogs. They arranged a meetup to either bring other dog owners and their dogs to the house for play date, or hike at a local trail together. Facebook messages, phone, or texts are used to communicate the date, time, and location of the meetup.
  • For dog-to-dog interactions, the size of dogs is a major consideration because some dogs fear other dogs that are different size than themselves. Participants also reported their dogs did not like other dogs that are too aggressive, and they tried in the past to avoid them.

Needs & Desires
  • All participants want a service to help them plan, schedule, or invite others for a meetup.
  • Some participants also wish to have services for a doggie daycare pickup or to find lists of local people with similar breeds.

Survey Trends

Survey Findings

Summary Trends
  1. Dogs are more likely to be social with their dog owners and unfamiliar people, but not with other unfamiliar dog(s).
  2. Dog owners are more likely to exercise their dog(s) at least once a day, but agree that they should exercise their dog(s) more.
  3. How active a dog owner’s lifestyle is, has no effect on how often they exercise their dog(s).
  4. Dog owners are more likely to hang out with their friends and their dogs once a month or less because of their busy schedules.
  5. Dog owners would love to have an app that allows temperament, age, breeds, and interests filtering to find other dog owners for playdates.



We created 3 target audiences based on our observations, interviews, and surveys.
Active Aaron

Aaron is an active single man who loves adventure. Aaron's first priority is his dog and he brings his dog everywhere he goes - from hiking trips to visits to the beach. Aaron loves socializing with his dog and often finds himself going to dog meetups and on group walks.

He is a frequent visitor to his local dog park and will do whatever it takes to make his dog happy.

Professional Paul

Paul is a young, busy professional who lives in the city. He doesn't live very close to any dog parks, but regularly takes his dog for walks and runs. He doesn't have time to schedule play dates for his dog, but wishes there was a quicker way to do it.

Paul also regularly travels for work, and has to have the dog either stay with friends, or takes him to a kennel.

Retired Rita

Rita is an empty nester who walks her dog alone and wishes she had more ways of socializing her dog.

She wants to set up activities with other dog owners but is unable to figure out how to do this online.

Feature Matrix

Feature Matrix

A list of features from all our insights gained from user research
Highest priority features
  • Event search based on dog breed, size, temperament, and age
  • Ability to make profiles for dogs based on size
  • Calendar functionality to track dog’s play date schedule
  • Location-based search for doggie activities within your immediate area.



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