Part 2 – Walker or Boarder

Dow Walker, Dog Boarding, Therapy

Many people are put off of having a dog because they require a lot of commitment and they don’t feel they have the right lifestyle for them. They have to go out to work and are out of the house for several hours a day, or like to go on regular holidays abroad and know they can’t take a dog with them.

My dogs have always been there with a wagging tail and a cuddle to comfort me in the low points of my life, or have sat with me after a stressful day at work and helped me to relax without judging me for the mood I’ve come home in. They’re like little furry anti-depressants so I find it a real shame that some people deny themselves the company of a dog because of their lifestyle when there are so many services available now that would allow them to share their lives with one.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that there are circumstances when people really shouldn’t have a dog but it shouldn’t have to be because you spend more than four hours a day earning a living or enjoy a family holiday in a different country.

This week I thought we’d take a look at what services are available to you and help you to decide which one is more suited to your needs.
As someone who has worked in doggy daycares, been a dog walker and done some pet sitting or boarding I wanted to be completely honest with the pro’s and con’s of each service.

Dog Walkers – These basically come to your home, pick up your dog and take them for a walk. Most will offer half hour or hour long walks and some will offer longer ones with prices varying depending on the length of the walk.

When I started my business I was dubious about adding walking to my list of services. This is because dog walkers always get such bad press and are constantly being complained about on social media platforms, mainly because they tend to walk large numbers of dogs together with seemingly little or no control of them. The problem with dog walkers is that they don’t actually have to have any experience or qualifications to do the job, a love for dogs and the need to earn money appears to be all that is needed.
However if you do choose to hire a walker then they should be fully insured and DBS checked and have an insured vehicle with suitable crates/kennels fitted to transport the dogs safely and this insurance should state that they can transport dogs in that vehicle. Ideally you would also want them to be trained in canine first aid in case the worst happened while your dog was in their care.

Although it’s great to have the social aspect of larger group dog walks, I would always recommend that you choose a walker that follows their local authorities guidelines with regards to how many dogs they can walk at a time.

Usually a walker that ticks all of these boxes is more expensive than one that doesn’t as they have to cover their costs but they really are worth their weight in gold. You can use the walker that only charges £8 an hour but they wouldn’t usually have all of the above things in place and if they do they normally have to walk more dogs at a time to cover their costs meaning less attention is on your dog.

Doggy daycares – These are usually set up either in people’s homes, in industrial units or on farms and take care of your dog for a set amount of hours a day. Some allow you to drop the dog off and pick them up again and others collect the dog from your home at the beginning of the day and drop them back at the end.

All daycare centres should be licensed by the local council and should display their licence or at least have a copy available for you to see. This license proves that they have met all of the required government guidelines and recommendations to look after your dog including having qualified team members and being insured. They are also given a maximum limit on the amount of dogs that they can have on the premises. I absolutely love daycares if they are run properly and the dogs are actually watched and cared for during the day. Unfortunately I have heard of several daycares where the dogs are left to their own devices during the day while the team members are sitting watching the tv or doing other things. This just makes things harder for you as an owner because with no boundaries, dogs learn bad behaviours in relation to playing with other dogs and then don’t understand why they can’t act this way when they see another dog over the park.

Pet Sitters – these are people that come to your home to look after your dog in their own environment. They will usually charge you per hour and some will walk them, some won’t.
Some also offer a holiday service where they will stay at your house for however long you’re away to take care of your dog.
Again these don’t have to have any qualifications and don’t have to be licensed but personally I would be checking that they are insured, DBS checked and qualified in canine first aid at the very least.

Dog Boarders – These take care of your dogs while you’re away on holiday. There are a range of different boarders with some keeping dogs in outside kennels and others looking after your dog in their homes and they usually charge you either a daily or weekly rate depending on the length of time you’re away.

Like with the daycares, all boarders must be licensed with their local councils and should display the license for you to see. This license proves that they have met all of the required government guidelines and recommendations to look after your dog including having qualified team members and being insured. They are also limited on the amount of dogs they are allowed to care for at any one time.
You should be welcomed to see where your dog will be staying and most boarders will insist on having the dog for a day or night before you go away just to make sure they are happy in the environment and don’t get too stressed.

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to finding someone to care for your dog but the options are out there.
When I started out I asked people what sort of service they would want and tailored my business to suite them. My clients trust and the welfare of their dogs is my main priority and it should be the main priority of whoever you choose to use. If it’s not then it’s time to look around elsewhere.