Even if you can’t afford to hire a dog walker every day, there are a few free ways to get your dog human and dog friends and potty trips during the workday!
The ideas in here come from separation anxiety trainers who work with dogs who can never be left home alone or they will have a panic attack. They might require a little leg work to get set up, but they should be easy once you get the ball rolling!
CASUAL NEIGHBORHOOD DOG NETWORK
If you already know and trust a few other dog guardians in your area, start an email thread or a text group of like-minded guardians in your neighborhood. You can send out a request when you need help and answer your neighbors’ requests to reciprocate.
Because you don’t want to take advantage of your neighbors or overburden them, this is best for occasional, easy requests like taking your dog on a short potty walk, letting them out to play in the yard for a bit, or playing fetch for 10-15 minutes. It’s probably too much to ask them to do every day.
If you feel like you are taking too much and not giving enough, gift cards, barbecues, yard work, and dog toys are all great ways to show your appreciation.
If you don’t know your neighbors, you’ll have to meet some before you can start a network! Make an effort to say hi to fellow dog guardians and start up a conversation. Get a feel for them, and if you think they are a good match, propose the idea!
By dog sharing, we mean taking turns bringing each other’s dogs into your home. So, you could find someone who doesn’t work or who works from home and leave your dog with them on weekdays. In return, you can take their dog on evenings, weekends, or when they go on vacation.
Dog guardians who travel a lot or who have dogs with separation anxiety, would probably LOVE to partner up with you on something like this.
Social, high energy dogs will benefit the most from dog sharing. But, if you find a dog who is a good energy match for your dog, then it could be great for any dog who likes other dogs!
FREE HUMAN COMPANIONSHIP
You may have neighbors who would be happy to spend a few hours with your dog each day. Responsible high school or college students might be happy to hang out in your quiet house for an hour or two while they study. Retired neighbors might appreciate your dog’s company while they read a book or watch a tv show. If you feel like you are asking a lot, you can help them around their house to return the favor.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
These solutions aren’t as reliable as a dog walking or day care service and won’t come with insurance or background checks. So do your due diligence and only do what you are comfortable with. If you can make room in your budget, paying for a day or two of dog walking or day care and supplementing with these things could be an excellent combo.
Just because you can’t afford daycare doesn’t mean your dog has to sit home alone all day. With a little outreach, you can set up human and dog friends to brighten your dog’s day.
There are three main ways to do it:
1. Form a neighborhood dog network – Start an email or text group with neighbors to ask each other for easy, occasional help.
2. Find a dog sharing partner – Take turns bringing the other person’s dog into your home. Dog sharing is great for social dogs, especially younger or higher energy dogs who need more during the day.
3. Free pet sitting – Some neighbors, like students looking for a quiet place to study or retirees looking for an activity, might be happy to spend an hour or two at your house.
These options aren’t as reliable or secure as professional services, so make sure you are comfortable with what you set up!
This article from the amazing Malena DeMartini, which is actually targeted to guardians of dogs with separation anxiety who can’t be left home alone, is the source of two of the ideas in this list.