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What Kind of Dog Walking Service Does My Dog Need?

Group walks? Private visits? Long hikes? Short sniffs?

Every dog is different. Finding the perfect service depends on their unique needs and personality as well as your own schedule and budget. Here are some tips to help you assess your own dog's needs and navigate the services we offer:

Group Walks

Off-leash group hikes are our bread and butter. These hour-long adventures take us into the more remote parts of the city where we can run around, play, sniff, and socialize. While a bunch of dogs running around in the woods makes for super cute photos, and we definitely have fun on our hikes, this kind of walking service is really only appropriate for a certain kind of dog. In fact, I'd say that most dogs are not a good fit for group services, and that's ok! Why not? Well, while we might like to think of our pups as little kids when we send them off to social experiences like daycare or group walks, the reality is that most (adult) dogs are not super dog-social and they don't need a big group of pupper-pals. By that, I mean that most dogs don't get much out of interactions with other dogs. Some dogs do make strong bonds with others (usually members of their own household) and some dogs will play, if their partner is a known and comfortable friend, but that kind of interaction is usually short and replaced with sniffing, exploring, or other independent activities shortly afterward. A lot of dogs will tolerate other dogs, but they aren't really "friends" (even though we call them that in our cute and very-much-personifying social media posts). Dogs that do well in off-leash group hikes tend to be at least somewhat dog-social. They might have one or two "friends" in the group and they tolerate the others. At minimum, they need to have good manners with other dogs, be patient with puppies, and they can't be stressed out by the presence of other pack members. Dogs that need to control their companions (looking at you herders and terriers) might find a good fit in a group walk if their needs can be met without causing unnecessary stress to themselves or their group members. Same goes for dogs obsessed with their balls or sticks. And, of course, they need to have good recall and be able to keep up, physically. Ultimately, ensuring a safe, stimulating, and stress-free group walk depends on the careful configuration of the individual dogs. That's why we often do a few trial walks to see how your dog will fit in and what kinds of adjustments we can make to keep things running smoothly. If we think group walks aren't a good fit from the beginning, we'll offer something else. There's no point in causing undue stress when a dog would clearly rather hang out with just their favourite humans.

Private Walks

There are endless reasons why a dog might be better off with private services. We almost always start puppies out on private visits. Socialization is about a lot more than just other dogs, and there's a lot of world out there to explore and get comfortable with! Private walks let us control more variables in the environment and cater to the needs of the individual, which is beneficial for any dog. People- or dog-reactive pups in particular might benefit from private services that let us desensitize and decondition in ways we can't on group hikes. These dogs might "graduate" to group services with enough progress (if they're dog social, remember), or they might be better off staying on private walks for any number of reasons. Some dogs with severe reactivity might never be comfortable expanding their world to other dogs, people, or unfamiliar environments. Similarly, some senior dogs might be happier with private services where they aren't pressured into interactions they don't have the physical or mental stamina for. Some dogs have medical conditions, some dogs just hate the car, and some dogs just don't like anybody except for their owner and dog walker, and that's ok! Private walks are a great option for any dog. We often recommend that even social dogs get lots of breaks from their "friends" through solo time, either with their walker or with their owner through regular morning/evening walks to sniff, bond, and decompress. Private walks can be tougher to schedule than group services, because they come with a high operating cost for the walker, so definitely start looking for your walker early if you think you'll need private services.

Long Hikes Vs Short Strolls

The physical requirements of a walking service are just one consideration you should have when planning activities for your dog. Dogs that go out for long hikes obviously need to have the physical stamina to make it to the end, but it's much more important that the dogs enjoy their time. A physically-tired dog is not the goal, for any walking service. Whether the walk is long, short, fast, or slow, it needs to allow for whatever activities give the dog a meaningful experience. Some dogs need to RUN, but most are happy with a casual stroll with lots of opportunities to sniff. Some like to play and engage with the walker or other dogs, some trail behind the walker the whole time keeping an eye on the group, and some just follow their "friends" around like meandering goats in a field, peeing where they pee, sniffing what they sniff. Each walk should cater to the needs of the dog, so when they come home they are physically tired (but not exhausted), mentally satisfied (but not overstimulated), and overall content and ready to settle in at home.

Around the Neighbourhood or In the Woods

If you walk your dog around your own home on a regular basis, chances are they will be comfortable and fulfilled doing the same with their dogwalker. Group hikes take place in the outskirts of the city because that's often the safest and calmest place to work with a group of four-to-six dogs, but that doesn't mean the woods are inherently better than their own neighbourhood. Some dogs benefit from the quiet and remote nature of a park or wilderness area, but there are safe refuges in the city too. Where natural green spaces are really important is in the summer time, when city temperatures and lack of swim-able water push a lot of dogs out to the country. Variety might be more important than the actual location, though, if changing things up sometimes is ok with the dog. Where the walk should take place depends on the needs of the dog - seeing a trend here?


Some dogs, especially young puppies, seniors, and toy sized dogs, are just more comfortable at home. Have you tried to get a chihuahua to go for a walk (or just go pee) in the rain? Visit services might be best for dogs that need a let-out, medicine, or just some company during the day, but who don't want to go for a long adventure in the wild. For these dogs, the best fit could be a backyard playdate, trip to the mail box, or snuggle on the couch. Because visits tend to be private services, they can be trickier to find, so it might be helpful to start hunting for a dog walker that offers these services early on. It might also be beneficial to have a pet sitter plus a dog walker, if you can't find one person to do both.

It can take a while to find a good fit in a dog walker, especially for dogs with special needs. Luckily, Halifax is small and the animal people tend to know each other! If you're having trouble finding the right service, just ask the dog people in your life. We're happy to make recommendations.

Hope this was helpful! Happy exploring!


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