Dog ownership comes with a unique set of challenges and responsibilities. Those of us who have “inside” dogs often have to structure our lives around them. Maybe we have to turn down that dinner invitation because we need to get home to let the dogs out. Or perhaps we limit our travel due to having to board the dogs while we’re away. Possibly the biggest challenge the bulk of us face however, is what we do with our dogs all day, five days a week, while we’re at work. We have several options, from doing nothing at all to sending our fur babies to all-day doggie day care. Each option has its own set of pros and cons.
Doggie Day Care – What to Do with Your Dog While You’re at Work
This is actually the most common solution, as many pet parents have conditioned their dogs to go all day with no accidents. There is really only one pro to this solution, but it’s a big one – it’s free. There are cons, however. Going more than 10 hours or so without urinating is not healthy for any dog. Your dog knows he’s not supposed to go in the house, so he will hold it as long as he can. This causes a great deal of stress, which can bring on other health problems. Most pet parents who use this option will also admit they at least occasionally have messes to clean up when they get home. And for those who always have messes, you’re likely sending your dog mixed signals about where he’s supposed to go, compromising his toilet training.
Indoor Potty or Paper Training
If you have small dogs, this option may a good one. We have trained our Yorkie to use a washable rug if he has to go while we’re away. We alternate two of them, so if he soils one it just goes right in the washer. Indoor dog potties are another option. The bigger your dogs are, however, the less practical this option becomes. You can expect to pay about $300 for a large indoor dog potty.
The next option is to install a doggie door so that your dog is free to go in and out as he pleases. There are downsides to the doggie door, however. First, they need to be installed correctly, and you must have the proper access to use them. If the only access to your fenced back yard is a sliding glass door, you’ll have to have some major installation work done cutting through an exterior wall. Another negative is that your dogs will be outside alone. In many areas, the threat of coyotes and hawks is too great for small dogs to be outside unattended. And I would constantly be afraid that my pup would go outside, but for some reason would be unable to get back in – especially in wintertime.
Dog walkers are becoming more popular these days, and are a reasonable solution to our doggie day care. In addition to providing your dog the opportunity to potty, dog walkers also provide your dog with some exercise and companionship during the long hours you are away. The downsides here are that you are allowing someone access to your home, and the cost can be prohibitive. In my area of the country you can expect to pay a minimum of $25 for a 30-minute walk.
Doggie Daycares provide all-day doggie day care that includes socialization and stimulation. They also tend to wear your dogs out, so they aren’t so rambunctious when you get home. Besides the obvious downside of cost (anywhere from $25 and up per day), your dog has to pass a socialization test to ensure he plays nicely with others. In most cases you will also need to drop off and pick up Fido every day.
Whatever option you choose, your doggie day care should be seriously considered. If you haven’t gotten a dog yet, ensuring its health and safety while you’re away should be paramount in your decision.
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