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5 Questions to determine the best care for your dog

Stephanie St. Martin, Care.Com Contributor

Chewed shoes. Gnawed furniture. Pillows ripped to shreds. These signs may mean a “destructive dog,” but pet experts agree that this bad behavior usually is a signal of something else: lack of exercise. Yes, even dogs get cabin fever.

Woman hugging dog

Experts say that dogs are naturally curious (which explains why every tree needs to be sniffed) and daily exercise not only helps them physically, but more importantly, mentally.

When it comes to finding the best care for our dogs, daily activity is a must. So the decision between hiring a dog walker or taking Rover to doggie day care is an important one. These five questions will help you find the right care for your canine.

dog leashHow much exercise does your dog need?

Depending on your dog’s breed, he may not need to go on long walks or runs. (Some dogs, like the English bulldog, aren’t built for running.) If a one-hour walk around the park is ideal, a dog walker is your answer. But, if you think he needs more stimulation, check out local day cares.

Another sign: energy level. There are some dogs that are naturally calm; others seem more wound up. The more excited your dog seems, the more exercise he needs to release that energy.

Is weather an issue?

The post office may operate in the wind, rain, snow and sleet, but that doesn’t mean your dog walker will be up for a long walk. Other than a quick trip outside to let your dog take care of his business, a rainy day may call for a different routine. Ask your dog walker if on bad weather days they could “pet sit” and play with your dog indoors. Some dog walkers might even know of indoor spaces to let dogs run off some steam.

Then, for those active pups, you might want to consider a doggie day care for winter or when you see a long week of rain approaching.

Does your dog socialize?

Unfortunately, not all dogs will get along with others. If you are interested in day care, ask how they keep the peace. Talk to the manager about your dog’s personality and see what measures she’d take to make him feel at home.

If your dog is more of a lone wolf, a dog walker can be great. Be sure you hire someone who is trained on how to handle dogs if other dogs approach. Plus, if your dog is the only one being walked, he’ll have undivided attention.

Social butterflies can do well in both settings. If you want to accomplish socialization with a dog walker, find one that takes out a group of dogs.

Do you have more needs?

Grooming. Boarding. Walking. Pet sitting. The demands are constant. As a good pet parent, you may want to find an all-in-one stop so your dog can be used to the routine. Your choices: Find a dog walker who will also perform occasional pet sitting and a trip to the groomer or a day care that can board and groom.

What is your budget?

Now it comes down to the funds. Admittedly, an hourly dog walker is going to be less expensive than a day care. So you will have to weigh the benefits of both. Compare prices of Pet Care services in your zip code and see the hourly rates of dog walkers near you.


Many of us consider our dogs our kids, and we’ll go to great lengths to make sure they are happy. Whether it’s finding the perfect day care or dog walker, the demands of pet parenting are endless. Want to know what type of pet parent you are? Take this fun quiz.

More tips for pet owners

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Expert tips for apartment life with a dog
Common home remedies for your dog

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