Which is Right for Your Dog?
As a pet parent, finding the best care for your furry friend can be a daunting task. The 2 most popular options are dog daycare and Professional dog walking services. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and it ultimately depends on the needs of your dog and your family lifestyle. I hope this article helps you figure out the best fit or combination of fits for you and your pup.
- Socialization: Dog daycare provides a great opportunity for your dog to socialize with other dogs.. This is especially important if you don’t have a lot of opportunities to socialize your dog. Especially young dogs as socialization plays a crucial role in their development.
- Relief from Boredom: Some Dogs who are left alone for extended periods can get bored and lonely, which can lead to destructive behaviour. Daycare can provide a change of scenery and activities to keep your dog mentally stimulated and entertained while you’re away.
- Supervision: Most dog daycare facilities have staff that supervise the dogs and ensure their safety. This can give you peace of mind knowing that your dog is being looked after and cared for.
- Spread of Illness: With multiple dogs coming and going, there is always a risk of infectious diseases spreading. Even with good cleaning practices, it can be difficult to completely eliminate the risk of disease transmission. This is especially concerning for dogs that haven’t been fully vaccinated or have weaker immune systems, and it can also put human family members at risk if the illness is transmissible to humans.
- General health and vaccines – Most if not all daycares require a dog must be spayed or neutered before attending doggie daycare for obvious reasons, this could pressure you into getting the procedure done earlier than recommended. They also require all vaccines which is totally reasonable to hopefully reduce the spread of illness but we find many people are reluctant to “over-vaccinate” their dog.
- Overstimulation or Anxiety: Some dogs may find the daycare environment overwhelming or overstimulating, leading to anxiety or even behavioural issues. While many daycare facilities do their best to ensure a calm and structured environment, there are always some dogs that may struggle with the noise and activity levels and are unable to settle. This can result in a negative experience for both the dog and their owner. Some pet parents are shocked that their dog does not come home exhausted from their day but instead their pup is bouncing off the walls. The example I always use is “imagine going to a concert and getting home and trying to go to sleep” Dogs’ brains like ours need time to wind down from a busy and stimulating day.
- Lack of Personalized Human Attention: In a busy daycare environment, it can be difficult to give each dog individual attention. While most facilities try to maintain a good ratio of staff to dogs, there are limits to how much attention each dog can receive. This can also lead to issues with dogs who spend 5 days a week in daycare, they lose their dog to human interaction and the bond with people resulting in becoming more bonded to dogs and part of the day care pack.
- Drop off and pick up – for some clients this can be an issue, if they have trains to catch or sometimes asked to stay late. For good reason dog day cares like child day cares have a drop off and pick up time, if the staff have to stay late to wait for you to pick up their dog there are often higher fee’s or you can’t pick them up till the next day.
- Hours of operation – They do vary but most Doggie Day cares in our area are not open on weekends and weekday hours are limited to 7 – 6ish, so if you need evening care they are not typically available.
- Flexibility: Dog walking services can offer greater flexibility in terms of scheduling and frequency of walks. While daycare typically operates on a set schedule, a dog walker can work with you to create a schedule that meets your dog’s needs and fits your busy lifestyle. This can be especially beneficial for owners who have unpredictable work schedules or who need occasional dog walking services instead of a regular daycare arrangement. With a dog walker, you can also choose the length and frequency of walks based on your dog’s activity level and preferences.
- Fresh Air – Getting out in the fresh air and a walk around the neighbourhood for sniffs and leg stretches is something all dogs and humans need in the day, that connection with nature is so important to physical and mental well-being.
- One-on-One Attention: Dog walking services can provide your dog with one-on-one attention and care during their walk, which can be especially beneficial for dogs who prefer individual attention or who have difficulty socializing with other dogs. A dog walker can focus solely on your dog’s needs, providing personalized care and attention during their walk. They can reinforce the training you are doing at home and work with them on their walking skills. This can also be a good option for dogs who are anxious or uncomfortable in group settings, as a dog walker can provide a calmer and more controlled environment for them to exercise and explore.
- Tailored Exercise: Dog walking services can provide tailored exercise for your dog. While daycare can be great for socialization and playing with other dogs, a dog walker can provide exercise that is tailored to your dog’s individual needs. For example, if your dog has joint problems or is recovering from an injury, a dog walker can provide a low-impact walk that won’t exacerbate their condition. Similarly, if your dog is high-energy and needs a more vigorous exercise routine, a dog walker can provide a longer or more intense walk to help them burn off excess energy. With dog walking services, you have the flexibility to create a customized exercise plan that meets your dog’s unique needs.
- Availability – Most Professional Dog Walking companies are available 365 days a year providing you with coverage whenever you need them during their operating hours. This can be beneficial if you and your family are out for a long day on the weekend or on a holiday.
- Limited Socialization: Unlike daycare, dog walking services do not provide as much opportunity for socialization with other dogs. While a dog walker may encounter other dogs on their walk, the interactions are typically brief and may not provide the same level of socialization that daycare can offer. This can be a disadvantage for dogs who enjoy playing and interacting with other dogs and need regular socialization to maintain their social skills and behaviour.
- Cost: Dog walking services can be more expensive than daycare due to the small human to dog ratio. Unlike daycare, where multiple dogs can be cared for by a single caretaker, dog walking services typically involve a one-on-one interaction between the dog and the walker. Also, dog walkers are diving to your home providing more convenience for you, yet more cost in travel time and mileage to them and the company.
- Service Area: Depending on the dog walking company, their service area may be limited. If you live outside of the company’s service area, you may not be able to use their services. This can be a disadvantage for dog owners who live in more remote areas or on the outskirts of a city. Even if a company does offer services in your area, there may be additional fees or travel charges that can add to the overall cost. In contrast, most dog daycares have a fixed location and are generally more accessible to a wider range of pet owners.
Some pet parents may find combining dog daycare and regular walks throughout the week allows them to have the best of both worlds. Dogs can have the opportunity to socialize with other dogs and expend their energy at daycare while also receiving the individual attention and exercise they need during walks without getting over stimulated.
Ultimately, the best choice for your dog depends on their individual needs and your lifestyle. It’s important to carefully consider the pros and cons of each option to make an informed decision that will benefit your furry friend.
Morag is the owner and founder of York Regions most trusted premier in-home pet care and dog walking companies. In 2000 she saw a need for an alternative to kennels, catteries for family pets in the area and has always believed that pets are much happier and less stressed staying in their own familiar environment. Morag and her team are all certified in Pet 1st Aid and CPR, she also offers continuous training to her team members through online and hands on pet care and pet behaviour and care courses. Morag has earned her certificate in Professional Pet Sitting, Professional Dog Walking and Canine Attendant training. She has lived in the Newmarket/Aurora area since 1991 is a wife, a mother of 2 adult children and a grandmother of 2 delightful little balls of energy. She has also been owned by fish, birds, mice, rats, cats, dogs, gerbils and guinea pigs and is an advocate for all living creatures. In her spare time she likes to be involved in her community and events travelling, reading and cooking.