Professional dog walking versus Doggy DayCare: what’s the difference?

Professional dog walking versus Doggy DayCare: what’s the difference?

This is a question that we get asked frequently by first-time dog owners enquiring about our services, so we thought it would be worth writing a short post outlining some of the differences between having a professional dog walker, versus using a ‘doggy daycare’.

The first thing to state at the outset here is that, as stated in our previous blogpost, when properly-managed and ethically run, both dog walkers and doggy daycares can offer huge benefits to you and your dog. However not every dog that is suitable for dog walking flourishes in a doggy daycare environment, and vice versa. At the end of the day, it is up to owners to make informed choices about their dog’s care, based on their assessment of their own dog’s needs. However, to help you in this process, we have outlined some of the key differences between doggy care and dog walking environments, to ensure that you are able to make a decision that is right for you and your dog.

One thing that it is important to be clear about is that professional dog walkers are not the same thing as a doggy daycare. Indeed, whilst all professional dog walkers in Newcastle are required to have a daycare licence (this is something you should ask about with all new walkers), dog walkers and day care providers offer two very distinct services, and it is important to be clear about the differences between them before making a decision about what you need.

The first difference between professional dog walkers, and a doggy daycare, is one of scale. Doggy daycares are usually based around housing large numbers of dogs in an enclosed area or building where, much like a nursery, clients pay for their dog to be looked after for a set number of hours during the day. Ratios for staff to dog numbers are set by DEFRA at 1 staff member per 10 dogs, which means in practice that a single doggy daycare can have up to 50 dogs in one space at any one time!

If you are looking to take your dog to a daycare, then be sure to take a look around beforehand, and make sure that the DEFRA ratios are being adhered to, and that you are comfortable with the number of other dogs yours will be around for the day. You should also ask about opportunities for your dog to rest during the day. All licensed daycares are required to provide opportunity for ‘down time’ for their dogs, as 8 hours in an enclosed environment with lots of other dogs is a lot of interaction, so it is important to make sure that your dog will have as much time for relaxation, as they do for play, whilst at a daycare.

By contrast, properly licensed dog walkers operate on a much more intimate scale. Dog walkers that are licensed in Newcastle upon Tyne are only allowed to walk a maximum of 6 dogs at any one time in public, which means that the staff to dog ratio is much lower than at a daycare facility, and the number of dogs that yours will interact with in a day will be more limited.

The benefits of this are twofold; firstly, dog walkers that adhere to these licensing limits are able to build a much more intimate knowledge of your dog’s behaviours and personality, and should be able to report back any changes or concerns that they notice during their walks. Secondly, and most importantly, from our perspective at Jess Fox & Hound, smaller packs of dogs means an ability to match dogs that are appropriate in size and play together and opportunities for regulated, structured play between hounds, which is the key to positive socialisation for your dog.

An added bonus if your dog is walked regularly in the same pack, is that they may make ‘friends’ with other dogs whilst you are away. Certainly clients whose dogs are walked at Jess Fox & Hound regularly report that their dogs go wild with excitement when they encounter ‘strange’ dogs in the park, only to find out from their owners that they’re part of the same Jess Fox & Hound pack…

A final, and perhaps obvious, difference between dog walkers and doggy daycare is that dog walkers walk for their profession!

Some doggy daycares do offer walking services, however these are usually charged as ‘extra’ to clients, and operate on a very limited basis, which means that the majority of dogs in a doggy daycare don’t leave the premises for most of the day. For some dogs (e.g. very young puppies, or elderly or disabled dogs), this is absolutely fine, however for others, no walks whilst at daycare means owners have to take them out at the end of the work day…

Obviously, with a professional dog walker, getting your dog walked is never an issue! And with a range of services, from our 1 hour Adventure Walks, to Full Day Adventurers, here at Jess Fox & Hound we likely have a walk, and a service, to suit you!

However, with dog walking comes one obvious downside to the professional dog walking world…the weather! Dog walkers walk in ALL weather, come storm, snow or shine, which means that, as long as they’re willing to embrace the weather, your dog will too. There’s nothing better than seeing a bunch of dogs thrashing their way through the long grass, or rolling in the snow, and the mental and physical stimulation they get from experiencing the world in all its elements is ideal. However as owners, this may mean getting a dog returned to you that definitely looks as though it’s spent the day outdoors too…Although at Jess Fox & Hound dogs are towelled down, or rinsed, after every walk, the mud fearful amongst you should take heed…as we always say “a muddy dog is a happy dog”, so if your dog does come home smelling a bit like a bog otter, be assured that this means they’ve definitely had the very best of days….