Dog Daycare or Dog Walker? Which One Is Best for Your Dog?
Should you hire a professional dog walker or take your pooch to doggy daycare? The answer depends on you and your dog.
If you work long hours or travel frequently, you may find yourself needing a caregiver for your pet. Most pet owners in this situation realize they have two options: putting their dog in doggy daycare or hiring a professional dog walker to come to their house and let their dog out a few times each day. The choice between these two is ultimately up to your pet and your personal circumstances.
Here's how to decide:
Is Dog Daycare Right for You?
Does your dog like playing with other dogs? Does he require a lot of stimulation during the day? Will it be convenient for you to drop off your dog and pick him up from daycare? These are some questions that will help you determine if doggy daycare is the best option for you. If you found yourself nodding yes to any of these questions, you and your dog might be better suited for a daycare situation.
Dog daycare has become an increasingly popular option for dogs over the years (see 8 Dog Boarding Secrets for more information). It provides dogs the opportunity to play and interact with other dogs and people during the day. It helps socialize your pet and prevents boredom by giving him something to do all day long.
"For our dog, daycare was definitely the clear choice," says Emily Hardin of Los Angeles. "We have a French bulldog who tends to have separation anxiety when we leave the house, so we wanted a constant distraction. If we know we're going to be gone for more than four hours, we always drop him off at daycare. He loves it! He plays until we pick him up and then is so exhausted the rest of the night."
Even if you don't need to use a daycare on a day-to-day basis, you may want to consider boarding your dog at one if you travel often or even just for vacation.
"I always choose to board my dog when I travel," says Miki Reilly-Howe of Cincinnati. "We have a unique daycare solution in Cincinnati that offers kennel-free boarding and daycare, which means my dog, Amber, is able to sleep on a couch or bed, just like she would at home. This was a significant deciding factor for me," she says.
Is a Dog Walker Right for You?
Ask yourself these questions: Does your dog prefer the comfort of his own home? Does he become overstimulated easily? Does he require more one-on-one attention than other dogs? If you answered yes, your dog might be better suited to a dog walker.
"I decided to hire a dog walker for my dog, Jeremy," says Marjorie Cunningham of Wall, New Jersey. "He has special needs and doesn't always get along with other dogs, so a professional dog walker just seemed like the obvious choice."
Hiring a professional dog walker is a great option for your pet. There's more opportunity for interaction between your dog walker and your pet. Additionally, if your dog doesn't get along with other dogs or becomes overstimulated easily, he might be more relaxed in his own home and neighborhood. It's also easier for many pet owners who find it hard to drop their pets off and pick them up at a daycare location.
"My dog walker is top-notch," says Jessica Burlin of Delray, Florida. "She comes bearing toys and treats and I know my dog will get some serious playtime and fun while I'm gone. He also gets the comfort and security of staying in his own home."
Can You Have the Best of Both Worlds?
Do you feel like you just can't make the decision between the perks of a daycare and a dog walker? You don't have to -- just choose both. Send your pup to daycare once or twice a week and have a dog walker come the rest of the week. That way, your pooch gets all the interaction of a daycare to prevent boredom and encourage socialization, along with a few days of relaxation and one-on-one time at home with a dog walker.
For more ideas, check out the 10 Things to Look for in a Pet Sitter.
Do you use a dog walker or doggy daycare? Let us know why this option works for you in the comments!
Rebecca Desfosse is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, family and pet care topics.