Should You Choose Dog Daycare or a Dog Walker?

Does your dog need constant engagement or just a daily walk to stretch his legs?

While you’re at work, your dog spends his day alone in the house. Don’t feel bad—that’s the reality for many pet parents. However, there are things you can do for him to ensure he doesn’t have to spend too much time alone. You can put him in a day-long doggy daycare, or arrange for a professional dog walker to stop by your house and take him for a stroll. But which one would be the proper fit for your pooch’s needs (and your budget)? Well, that depends on him—his temperament, his exercise requirements and his social habits.

Before you decide if you’re going with a dog daycare or a dog walker, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

How Long Does Your Dog Spend Alone?

Time can drag on and on for some dogs, while others are quite content to sleep most of the day away. Most of us work an eight-hour day, not to mention the commuting time. Dogs can become bored and lonely, which can turn into separation anxiety or destructive behavior. If this sounds like your dog, he’ll be happier to spend his time in dog daycare, where he’ll have constant human supervision and canine friends to romp with all day long. But if you’re only working four or five hours a day or your dog doesn’t mind his alone time, having a dog walker come for an hour would suffice. It’s a nice break in the day for him to do his business and burn some energy.

Does Your Dog Play Well With Others?

There are dogs who don’t like to hang with other pooches…so daycare wouldn’t be the best option for them. This includes dogs who are reactive or have any aggressive tendencies toward other pooches. If your dog is too friendly or needs work on his social skills, he may need some training before entering daycare. A quality dog daycare facility will conduct a pre-assessment and a trial session before allowing your dog to stay for a full day. If he doesn’t get a passing grade in daycare, then a dog walker will happily take your pup out for his daily activity.

Is Your Dog Nervous?

When a group of dogs gets together, you know it’s going to be a fun time. They love to play, sniff out new friends and romp around. If your dog is the nervous type, dog daycare will overwhelm him. But this nervousness may be set off by a trigger. For example, small dogs can be nervous around big dogs due to the size difference. If that’s the case, find a daycare that separates dogs by size. On the other hand, if your pooch is generally nervous, the daycare environment will cause even more anxiety. Sound like your dog? Choose a dog walker over daycare—that way, your dog can enjoy the comforts of home and a human visit that affords him love and exercise.

Does Your Dog Get Into Trouble When Left Alone?

Some dogs will forget you’ve left the house 10 minutes after you shut the door, while others wait by the window for your return. Separation anxiety is a huge problem for these types of dogs. Your dog will constantly howl and bark, chew anything in site and leave you a little personal mess in the middle of the living room rug. It’s a bad situation for everyone—you, your dog and your neighbors who have to listen to his lonely anguish.  This is the perfect candidate for dog daycare, as he’ll be kept busy with other dogs. Dogs who can entertain themselves or like to sleep most of the day will be happy with a visit from a dog walker.

Meet the Author: Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic is the Editor of, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.

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