If you’re a responsible dog owner, you’ve likely heard about dog walkers and pet sitters. But if you had to hire one today do you know the difference between a dog walker vs. pet sitter?
Are they the same thing with different names? And, more importantly, what is the best choice for you and your dog?
We’ve laid out all the facts here so you can learn the differences between a dog walker and pet sitter, what situations they serve best and when you need one.
What is a dog walker?
A dog walker is a person you hire to come into your home and take your dog for a walk.
Some dog walkers even offer options to provide on-leash training.
Since the dog walker is entering your home, they also can be asked to fill up your dog’s food or water bowls and give your dog medication.
Their main job, however, is walking your dog and ensuring your pup gets the amount of exercise he needs.
When do you need a dog walker?
Are you out of the house most of the day? Or just too busy to give your energetic dog the exercise he needs?
Perhaps you have a new puppy that you don’t want to see cooped up all day or who is still potty-training and can’t hold it all day?
If so, you need to hire someone who can check in on your dog once or twice a day and provide the social interaction your dog needs.
Being left alone for too long isn’t suitable for your pet, especially if they are prone to anxiety. The same goes for puppies. If they’re left on their own for too long, they’re more likely to develop nasty habits like chewing on furniture or incessant barking.
What about using my neighbor’s kid?
While it’s great to give your next-door neighbor a break and help the kid earn a little spending money.
If your dog is calm and well behaved, only needs a walk in the afternoon and a water refresh, maybe it’s safe to use a hobby dog walker. It’s likely a cheaper option, and it can help build some neighborhood goodwill.
But if your dog is wild on the leash, always pulls and refuses to obey commands, or if your dog weighs more than 50 pounds, you can’t depend on an amateur.
What if something comes up? Sometimes pre-teens and teenagers aren’t responsible. What if they get held up after school, or worse, forget about taking care of your dog?
It’s difficult, if not impossible, for you to find a last-minute substitute. But if you work with a dog-walking service, they will always have a backup in case your dog walker gets sick or has an emergency.
You also need to think about your dog’s health and safety. Most dog walkers know pet CPR and first aid, which hopefully will never need to be used. But if there is a medical emergency, you want the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have someone there who knows how to respond. The same is true if you need someone to give your dog his daily pills or insulin shot.
What is a pet sitter?
They will feed your dog, give him medication, and spend time with him. While staying overnight is generally a separate service, that is something pet sitters are hired to do.
A pet sitter also can come to your home multiple times per day to care for your dog. The service is much more comprehensive.
When do I need to hire one?
They are particularly recommended if you are going away overnight, for a few days, or even a more extended vacation. If your dog is happy on their own in the house at night, then there’s no reason to hire someone to stay over.
A pet sitter will come in and look after your per just as you would. They will even open and close blinds to give your house that “lived in” look.
Pet sitting is also recommended if you work long hours and have an older or ill pet that needs to go outside more often.
In the pet sitter vs. dog walker debate, a pet sitter will be a better option, since they focus more on overall care, rather than just taking the dog for a walk. This way, you’ll get peace of mind while your dog gets the attention he needs.
What about boarding?
Are you going on vacation? Boarding your dog might be the right choice for you. Using a boarding facility is particularly useful for puppies and young dogs, who just aren’t suited to being alone long periods.
Boarding provides food, walks, and a safe space, without enabling them to endanger themselves or your furniture! In some cases, the facilities also offer a doggy daycare service, so your dog also has the chance to play with other pups.
For many dog owners, boarding is the automatic choice for when they go away, as they know that there will be someone on hand to provide care should their pooch need it.
Boarding kennels aren’t suitable for all dogs. If your pooch gets anxious or nervous, boarding puts them in a high-stress situation.
Dog walker vs. pet sitter: Making the right choice for your dog
Although boarding can be stressful for your dog, so can being at home alone when a stranger enters.
Boarding usually offers nearly 24-hour supervision and the chance to interact with other dogs. Most kennels also provide a video service so you can check in on your dog when you’re away.
The most significant advantage to pet sitting is your dog gets to stay in the comfort of his own home. He also receives the individualized playtime and specific care that he needs.
If you are worried about your dog being alone overnight, you can book a pet sitter to provide that service. If you live in a multi-pet home, using a pet sitter means your dog doesn’t have to be separated from his other furry or feathery companions.
The bottom line, you know your dog’s temperament and personality. Make the choice between a dog walker vs. pet sitter that will provide the best care for your pup.