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Private Dog Walks vs Group Dog Walks: Which is best?

There are endless choices when it comes to dog walking companies in Toronto. Most offer either group dog walks, private dog walks, or both.

Does your dog need private walks, or would they do better in a group?

Here’s an honest look at the pros and cons of both options.

What happens during a private dog walk?

Private dog walks (also known as solo dog walks or individual dog walks) are what most people imagine when they think of hiring a dog walker. Your pup will enjoy a neighbourhood stroll catered to their energy level, and keep their routine as if you had never left.

Your walker may arrive in a vehicle or on foot, but the walk will typically begin at your doorstep. Most private dog walks are on-leash, but some walkers may take your pup to an off-leash park with your permission.

Private Dog Walk Advantages

  • One-on-one attention: Your dog will have their walker’s full, uninterrupted attention for the duration of the walk. They will never be left unsupervised while the walker picks up or drops off other dogs.

  • Personalized service: The walk is customized to your dog’s energy levels and exercise needs. Your walker will make sure that all your dog’s unique needs are met before moving on to the next client. You’ll receive a more detailed, personalized visit report (GPS tracking may be included).

  • A consistent routine: Your dog will form a close bond with their walker, and keep a familiar and consistent walking route.

  • Stay in your neighbourhood: Your dog will never be put in a vehicle with other dogs – the walk starts at your doorstep.

  • Flexible timing: Private walks can be booked at any time (e.g. evenings, weekends, holidays) and don’t need to fit into a group outing schedule.

  • Flexible service: Indoor care, play and feeding are possible in addition to the walk.

Private Dog Walk Disadvantages

  • Higher cost: It can cost 1.5-2x more than a group walk.

  • Lower impact: A highly energetic dog may need more running and wrestling than private walks can offer.

  • Less socialization: Your dog may greet other pups along the way, but doggy socialization is not the main focus of private walks.

  • Subject to availability: Because most dog walking businesses focus on group walks first, it’s not always easy to schedule private walks when you need them. (unless you use a company that specializes in private walks only)

What happens during a group dog walk?

Group dog walks (or pack walks) are high-energy, social outings for your pup while you’re at work. A group dog walker typically drives a van around the city, to pick up 6 or more pups, before taking them to a park to begin their walk.

Outings can be 3 hours or more depending on travel time. Most group walks involve off-leash playtime, although some companies choose to keep all dogs leashed. The maximum number of dogs per handler is 6, according to Toronto by-laws.

Group Dog Walk Advantages

  • High energy: Your dog will come home tired and happy after a high energy romp with their friends. Regular group walks can help balance a hyperactive pup and keep them well behaved at home.

  • Socialization: Your dog will make friends and look forward to seeing them every day. This may desensitize nervous or reactive dogs and help them learn confidence and healthy social skills.

  • Great sensory enrichment: Your dog will experience new sights, smells, sounds and terrain as they explore parks with their group. This is great mental stimulation, especially for a city dog who stays home alone while you work.

  • Lower cost: Group dog walkers are able to keep costs relatively low (around $18-20/walk), since your dog is sharing that time with up to 5 other clients.

Group Dog Walk Disadvantages

  • Unsupervised pick-up and drop-off: Dogs are left in a van while your dog walker picks up or drops off each pup at home. Even with locked doors and AC on, anything can happen in those few minutes. Group walkers are in a rush to get back to their vehicle full of dogs, so they don’t have much time for indoor feeding, cleaning or other care.

  • Higher risk of injury: It’s harder to control a group of dogs if any altercations arise, either within the group or with other dogs.

  • Spreading illness: An illness (like kennel cough) or parasite (like giardia or fleas) can easily spread among a group if it was not noticed or disclosed on time.

  • Too slow or too fast: Every dog is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Although many groups are matched by temperament, size or energy level, it’s extremely difficult to find a walking pace that suits every dog.

In a nutshell…

Group dog walks are a great fit for those who:

  • Have a hyperactive dog who needs to burn off a lot of energy

  • Have a highly social dog who needs to be around other dogs to be happy

  • Have a budget of $20/walk or less

Private dog walks are a great fit for those who:

  • Want a service that’s totally customized to their dog’s needs

  • Have a dog who prefers to walk alone or is fearful or other dogs

  • Want to be sure their dog is closely supervised at all times

  • Do not want their dog in a vehicle with other dogs

  • Need feeding or indoor care in addition to their walk

  • Have a budget of $25-35/walk

With that in mind, if you’re interested in enrolling your dog in private walks, go ahead and send us a message to get your customized quote. We specialize in one-on-one services and our four-legged clients love having our full attention!

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