You get what you pay for. And you may be hoping to pay your way out of a full time second job of caring for a new dog.
We never want to believe it, we always think we’re finding the better deal. We are always let down when we cut corners to save a few pennies.
Take your dog. Do you buy your dog the cheapest food money can buy? Did you shop for the least expensive vet? How long do the cheaper dog toys hold up? If you’re like most Americans, the answers are no, no, and not long. Why would you choose the least expensive option for your dog’s care needs?
As an owner of a doggie daycare, I am biased toward our business model. But before I was an owner, I was a customer. I was a customer of a doggie daycare and I was a customer of a dog walker. I have found that while you may save a little bit of money, your dog is the one that misses out.
What is doggie daycare? At Camp Run-A-Mutt it is several thousand feet outdoor and indoor play space. Our entire operation, except for feeding, is cage free. From the time that your dog enters our space, they are running, playing, lounging, finding their favorite spot in the sun or jumping in the pool. There are myriad breeds of dogs. Large and small, young and old, barky or quiet, rambunctious or chill, we have them all on any given day.
Doggie daycare allows your dog to interact with all shapes and sizes of dogs as well as different types of humans giving them an opportunity to develop their social skills without their parent. They learn how to share space and human attention with other dogs. In essence, they become a more independent dog. This helps with separation anxiety, leash aggression, and resource guarding.
|Camp Run-A-Mutt||Dog Walker|
|Hours upon hours of play||Up to 30 minutes of walking on a leash|
|Socialization with other dogs||May share their walk with other dogs|
|Cage Free||Home or leash bound|
|Yard and facility designed for play||Not so much|
|All dogs are temperament tested/vaccinated/spayed or neutered||Never know about other dogs on walks / parks|
|Consistent / Dependable Staff||Inconsistent Staff|
|Play until tired||Limited time for energy exertion|
|Ability to watch on Muttcams||Not able to watch|
|Call for updates any time of day||Only one update per day|
|Mental stimulation for anxious dogs||Dogs get anxious when visitors come and go|
|Trained Staff – CPR First Aid, dog behavior||High turnover inconsistent staff|
|Constant Supervision for Positive Reinforcement (recall, basic commands)||Limited interaction for reinforcement. Limited recall training on a leash|
|No strangers in your home for you and your dog to meet and give access to your home.||Stranger danger|
|$39 for a full day of play||$27 for a ½ day|
|No upcharge for feeding or medication||May charge extra|
|Guaranteed hours of operation 24/7 for boarding||Sporadic availability|
Now, while these are all great reasons to use doggie daycare over a dog walking service, it is not for every dog. Should your dog be injured or need surgery, they cannot attend daycare while they have stitches. You may need to use a dog walker during that time because your dog may not be permitted to run, jump, or go up stairs. Cage free doggie daycare is not an option.
Another example could be a senior dog. If you have a dog that is older and doesn’t really have a lot of energy to begin with, then taking them to a highly stimulating place such as ours might not be what your dog needs. Again, you will get what you pay for which usually maxes out at 30 minutes of activity. Maybe that’s all your dog needs, but that is seldom the case. It’s best to let your dog tell you.
In the end, you may find that a combination of the two services works for you. The best advice that I can give is to listen to your pup. If they are tearing up your home, driving your neighbors crazy with barking, or you cannot seem to find a way to burn all of that energy, you probably would see a greater benefit having them go to doggie daycare than having just a walk. I am sure that there are great dog walkers, but even the best of them can only offer your dog so much in a limited amount of time.
Like I said, you get what you pay for.
Sounds great! Please setup a few locations in Bay Area.
As a dog walker, I agree with a lot of this. Thank you for including the part about how "I am sure that there are great dog walkers…" because that's… something.
So yes, after seeing that AMAZING pup cam, I totally agree that a brick-and-mortar doggy daycare is wonderful! I can't offer a waterfall in the backyard… that's beautiful! At most I can turn on the hose and play the ukulele. And yes, if your dog can handle it, the socialization opportunities at a big place like Camp Run-A-Mutt is TREMENDOUS! But I hope no one gets the impression that the dog walker they're considering is a careless stranger who's probably going to bail on you.
I've had a full background check and my clients all know it, I have at least a dozen strong/enthusiastic/positive references, I ensure complete transparency of my actions through detailed communication, and I take FABULOUS dog photos (and as many as you want) – so "stranger danger" is reeeeeally laying it on thick. My clients and I get to know each other really well, as I'm the one who compiles detailed poop reports (when the owner asks). POOP REPORTS! You're no stranger after a week of those, let me tell you!
I got into walking dogs because 1) I love playing/walking/feeding/being silly with them, 2) it pays decently and allows me to flexible hours to work while also going to school, and 3) all of my clients are so nice to me because I strive to be excellent for them. And you know, if I wasn't in school for something else, I'd strongly consider working for a doggy day care!
I think dog walkers and doggy day care should work together. Sometimes it's best for the dog to get dropped off with a dozen new buddies and a caring staff – for sure! But don't assume that anyone has as much love for your dog as you do just because you paid more. My best advice: talk to the walker or the day care staff you're considering and get to know them! Let your dog meet the walker and/or let your dog walk the day care. See which they respond to better. They WILL respond better to the day care in most cases, but don't feel like a bad owner if you decide that your dog(s) are just fine with the friendly neighborhood dog walker!