Dog day care: what are your choices?

From pet sitters and dog walkers to doggy day care centres, we round up the options for owners who need someone to look after their beloved pets during the daytime.

As pandemic restrictions have eased, many of us have been returning to our old routines. For some people, this means heading back to the office, going to the gym or resuming your favourite social activities.

While you might be welcoming the prospect of getting out and about more, there’s one important decision to make – who’s going to take care of your dog if you aren’t around? All dogs need attention and stimulation during the day (not to mention toilet breaks), and as a loving and responsible owner, you want to ensure that your precious pooch is left in safe hands. Let’s explore some of the options available for daytime doggy care.

Dog day care centres

One of the best options for taking care of your dog when you aren’t home is to put your pooch in a professional doggy day care facility. These are frequently run by experienced and passionate dog lovers, and their set-up is usually similar to a child’s nursery school, in that you can book your pet in for sessions that suit your needs. These could be half-days, full days, or sometimes even just a few short hours.

Doggy day care is usually lots of fun, as your precious pooch should get to play with other dogs (a vital part of their socialisation), enjoy plenty of exercise, and get the care and attention that they need when you are apart. If you think a day care facility might be the best option, ask around for local recommendations to help you find the right dog day care provider for your pet.

Hire a pet sitter

If you’d like your dog to have some fun and attention during the day, but you’d prefer not to use a day care facility, a pet sitter could be a great alternative. A pet sitter will either come to your home or take your dog to theirs – and will essentially treat your pet like their own for the time that they are together.

You won’t need to worry about walking, playtime or making sure they are fed, and better still, your doggy should get the one-to-one attention that they deserve. If you like the idea of a pet sitter, you could also consider joining a dog-sharing scheme such as

Ask family and friends

If you have a friend or family member available during the day, it can be tempting to ask them to take over doggy duty while you aren’t around. In some ways, this is ideal, since it’s likely your dog will already know them, and this can make it easier for them to settle in. You’ll also probably feel less anxious, knowing that they’re with someone they recognise and trust.

However, there are still a few things to consider, such as whether your dog will go to their house, or they’ll come to you? Does your chosen dog carer have any pets themselves – and does your dog get on with them? And is their home suitable for your dog, with a secure garden and somewhere to go to the toilet, and so on?

It’s a pretty big commitment for your friend or relative, so be sure to talk it over properly – and explain that if their circumstances change and it’s no longer a suitable arrangement, they should let you know as soon as possible, so that you can make alternative arrangements for your pet.

Find a dog walker

If all-day help isn’t a viable option, an alternative is to hire a dog walker who can drop in to take your pet out. Not least because, even if your dog has a bladder of steel, it’s not good for them to go all day without going to the toilet. Hiring a trusted dog walker is a great way to ensure that your pet gets to relieve themselves outdoors, plus it gives them some much-needed physical and mental stimulation to help prevent them from becoming too bored during the day.

This is important because when dogs are left alone, they can quickly become restless – and unfortunately, a bored dog is often a destructive dog. If your furry friend doesn’t burn off enough energy, you could find them developing undesirable behaviours such as excessive chewing, scratching or barking – simply for something to do. Choosing a dog walker to pop in during the day can help keep your pooch happy when you aren’t home.

There are a number of websites and apps listing local dog walkers in your area, but as with any dog care service, be sure to do your homework – it’s always a good idea to ask for recommendations, or seek references. After all, whoever takes care of your pet when you’re not around should ideally be as big a dog lover as you are!

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