Woman walking two dogs

Dog Walker vs. Day Care – which is best?

If you’re out of the house for long periods during the day, it’s important to have care arranged for your dog. Ideally, dogs shouldn’t be left for more than 6-8 hours without a break, and puppies needs even more frequent checks. When evaluating the options for your pup’s care, there’s lots to take into consideration.

Pros & Cons

With every decision to be made, there are pros and cons on both sides of the coin. When it comes to dog walking, we advise using a reputable company, versus a one-man band. Ensure that your walker will have the chance to do a meet & greet with your pet prior to any walks, so that you can go over your dog’s needs and preferences and get a general feel for the walker.

Dog Walker Pros

  • Dog walkers can be flexible with their schedules and take your dog out according to your routines! This also usually means that you can book in additional walks when needed or rearrange care.
  • Your dog will enjoy structured walks in the great outdoors, focusing on getting exercise, using the bathroom, and having fun. Outdoor exploration instigates mental stimulation as well.
  • Walks can be tailored to your dog’s needs based on size, breed, or age. And they may end up tired enough to nap the day away! Breaking up their day with a walk will encourage restful downtime when they’re alone.

Dog Walker Cons

  • A walker will come for a short, set amount of time – meaning that your dog will be home alone for some period of time. If your dog has anxious or destructive behaviours, this alone time may not be ideal.
  • Your walker will need to have access for getting in your home while you’re out, so it’s important to ensure they’re trustworthy. Be sure to check your walker’s credentials and background before committing. We recommend going through a company as opposed to an individual dog-walker, as companies tend to carry out background checks and offer insurances.
  • Dog walkers are only responsible for your dog over the period they’re booked, so any issues on either side of a scheduled walk might go unnoticed and emergencies may be undetected.

We Love Pets is a welfare-first company, and as such, we don’t condone large day care centres – since they can be a stressful and dangerous environment for dogs. However, we know that some smaller day care services limit their numbers, assess dog’s personalities and temperaments, and take a safety-first approach to care. We strongly suggest doing your research into day care centres before committing!

Day Care Pros

  • Many people feel comfortable leaving their dogs in a day care centre because they know that someone will always be present to keep an eye on their dog, and there will be other dogs to keep them company.
  • Day care centres often have a schedule of activities, so you have an idea of what your dog will be doing during their day.
  • Day care settings offer opportunities for socialisation with a mix of other dogs, which can help build social skills and ease separation anxiety.

Day Care Cons

  • On the flip side, while socialising with other dogs is often a good thing, the large groups in day care centres may influence aggressive behaviours and bad habits. Where there are conflicting personalities and hierarchies, fights may break out – which poses a potential risk for your dog.
  • The staff to dog ratio is lower, so your dog won’t get as much one-on-one attention.
  • The high energy, high intensity atmosphere may be excellent for exercise and engagement but can also be overstimulating for many dogs.

Does my dog need full-time stimulation?

The short answer? No. While dogs love to play, they also need a lot of sleep. Both the downtime and training processes are essential for improving your dog’s speed, mental health, and physical fitness.

All dogs are different, but an average adult dog should get between 12-14 hours sleep every day, and puppies require a whopping 18-20 hours! Sleep-deprived dogs often display ‘naughty’ behaviours, such as destructive chewing, so it’s important to ensure they’re getting their shuteye.

How can a dog walk be tailored to your dog’s specific needs?

Dog walkers are able to customise walks based on a dog’s age, size, breed, and personality. Many walkers will pair similar dogs so that they enjoy socialisation whilst on a walk as well!

Different dogs have different walking needs, for example:

  • Puppies tend to need a couple of short walks during the day, as opposed to one long walk. Puppies get tired more quickly; not only are they new to exercise, but there are lots of new sights, sounds, and smells for them to process! Walks can also provide an opportunity for training, so walkers will often bring treats along to start teaching the basics.
  • Mature dogs may need shorter walks, potentially on low-strain trails and paths. If a dog has pre-existing health issues, such as breathing complications or joint pain, the walker can create a route that won’t push the dog too hard.
  • High-energy dogs usually need longer, more strenuous walks – or areas of large open green space where they can run off lead. Bringing along interactive toys or outdoor games can entertain a high-energy breed and wear them out physically and mentally.

Trained walkers are intuitive; they’ll match pace where your dog is comfortable, check for signs of exhaustion, thirst, or hunger, identify any stressful stimuli that the dog may encounter, and give your dog the attention and fuss they need!

Other care options

When a dog walker or day care setting isn’t the right fit, a pet sitter might be the answer!

Like dog walkers, pet sitters need to be trustworthy individuals as they’ll be accessing your home to care for your pet. Pet sitters care for your pet within your home, perhaps during the day when you’re out, or for longer periods of time if you’re away on holiday. They can maintain your pet’s routine, follow a feeding regimen, and get out for walks. Like day care centres, you can hire a pet sitter to stay with your pet all day – so they won’t be alone.

Pet sitters are often ideal for new or first-time puppy owners. Puppies require a lot of downtime, so while they don’t need constant companionship, they do need frequent bathroom outings. A pet sitter is ideal for making multiple visits during the span of a typical workday!

We Love Pets services

We Love Pets offers award-winning dog walking, home boarding, and pet sitting services across the UK. Each of our pet care professionals is DBS checked, fully insured, trained in first aid, and experienced in animal care. We know that your pets are part of the family, so it’s important to us that we hire the right people for their care!

Looking for pet care in your area? Find your nearest We Love Pets branch here. To get in touch, feel free to give us a call, send an email, or fill out the enquiry form to tell us more about your pet. Whatever your pet care needs, We Love Pets is happy to help!

Interested in a career with We Love Pets? Check out our dog walker, pet sitter, and host family job opportunities here!