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Paw Off: Dog Walker versus Doggy Day Care

By Colleen Williams
October 3, 2018 • 3 min. read
dog walking

If you’re a working (or traveling) dog parent, you may grapple with the feelings of guilt daily as you say goodbye to your best furry friend, those puppy dog eyes shining up at you as you give a final pat. How can you “abandon” such a cute face? Many pet parents arrange for a little extra help in their day – in the form of a walker, sitter, or doggy daycare – to make sure their dog is taken care of while they’re away. There are two common options – dog walker and doggy daycare –  and we wanted to break down what the advantages of each option are; which one is truly more beneficial, hiring a dog walker or dropping off Spot at daycare?

The Pros & Cons of a Dog Walker

“I’d rather hire a sitter to check on my dog midday,” says vet tech Karen. “We had dogs brought in all the time that had been attacked by other dogs at daycares. No thanks! My dog will remain with me or safely at home where I can protect her since I know she won’t fight back.” While it’s not the case for all, many pet parents simply feel safer hiring a dog walker overtaking their pup to a daycare. Here are our pros and cons:

  •    PRO: Dogs are creatures of habit, so allowing them to stay in their own home throughout the day might actually be their preference.
  •    PRO: For dogs who are shy or frightened easily, the one-on-one attention of a dog walker helps them to build some confidence and social skills. In fact, any dog with special needs would benefit from a walker’s attention.
  •    PRO: Safety first! While dogs can still get into mishaps and injury with a walker, the likelihood is lower than if they’re at a doggy daycare. This also goes for pups who can be reactive, aggressive, or simply don’t like other dogs.
  •    PRO: That one-on-one time is beneficial for all dogs – not only do they feel special and loved, they have the undivided attention of someone they’ve bonded with. Did you know that services like Rover do research on their walkers and that they accept less than 20% of potential sitters? That way you can relax knowing your pup is in good hands.
  •    PRO: Pet parents can simply go to work for the day and not worry about dropping off their dog at a specific location.
  •    CON: It can be lonely! Dogs still will spend most of the day alone, with a walker coming in the middle of the day.
  •    CON: While the exercise is great for your dog, some dogs need much more stimulation to really burn off some energy. This can be remedied by picking a walker who could take your crazy canine for a run or by booking longer sessions to get the zoomies out.

The Pros & Cons of Doggy Day Care

As Rover says, “One type of doggy daycare does not fit all dogs, and not every dog thrives in the daycare environment.” While most of us think of independent businesses that have an open room for daycare, you can also choose in-home daycare with a single dedicated sitter should your dog have special needs or is reactive. So how does the traditional daycare stack up against hiring a dog walker? Here are the pluses and minuses:

  •    PRO: If your dog likes playing with other dogs, doggy daycare could be very enjoyable and stimulating! Many pet parents notice that their dogs come home tired after a day with lots of interaction, and a tired dog is a good dog.
  •    PRO: For dogs that have separation anxiety, doggy daycare nips that anxiety in the bud. By acting as a distraction, your dog won’t even think twice about you not being there.
  •    PRO: Prevents boredom with lots of furry friend interaction, and no access to your shoes!
  •    CON: You usually have to drop off your pup at doggy daycare (some businesses have pick up and drop off services), so factoring in its convenience will be necessary. Can you make it there in the morning and at night before they close?
  •    CON: Standalone doggy daycares can be understaffed and under-trained, should an emergency (or fight) happen.
  •    CON: Just like a kid going to school, dogs can bring home all kinds of yucky germs from daycare. Make sure your pup is vaccinated and if he/she gets sick, don’t expose other dogs to it.

Best of Both

Some pet parents have found that alternating days with their walker and their daycare works great for a dog that has varying needs. Not only are you preventing boredom and encouraging socialization, but your dog also gets a few days of relaxation and one-on-one time at home with a dog walker. Rover offers both dog walking and in-home daycare. 

This post is brought to you in partnership with Rover. Founded in 2011 with headquarters based in Seattle, WA, Rover is the nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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