How the dog park saved us $200/month

Published February 15, 2015   Posted in How to Save

Audio introduction

Okay everyone, I will tell you a little secret about one of our larger monthly expenses if you promise not to try to kick my ass.  For nearly 6 years, our little 9-pound poodle spent the day at a doggie daycare – every day – to the tune of $400 a month.

Patti's puppy dog eyesThen, our second dog came.  When we rescued our 50-pound boxer mix, we never really considered sending them both to daycare every day, which would have kicked our monthly daycare bill up to a whopping $800/month for two dogs instead of one.  Screw that.

Since I work from home and can entertain the dogs, we instead decided to send the both of them once a week for socialization.  Why didn’t we nix daycare entirely?  Well, our little poodle absolutely LOVES daycare, and coupled with her little puppy dog eyes staring up at us every morning, my wife and I immediately turned into suckers.  This routine set us back $200 every month.

That damn poodle has the both of us wrapped around her little…umm…finger/paw/nail thing.  Whatever you call it…

So, we kept up the one-day-a-week daycare routine for several months, but this month we finally decided to make a change – we both kinda wanted that $200 bucks back even though our poodle has eyes that could melt glaciers.  Instead of going to the gym together after my wife gets home from work, at least once a week, we will take both dogs up to one of our local dog parks to let them run around and socialize with other muts.

Our rescued boxer, Penny

Penny enjoying the dog park

The cost to us?  A coooooool ZERO.  Hello $200 bucks!

We tested this out over the weekend and it worked well.  Much to the chagrin of our little poodle, we didn’t send our dogs to daycare last week – she seemed fine with it, though I remain convinced that she wants to gnaw my face off in the middle of the night, though my wife isn’t quite as convinced of that yet.  🙂

But wait, we aren’t through yet!  Another free technique to get our dogs some exercise – our home’s backyard happens to face a desert wash area that, until this weekend, we never really explored much.  But today, we pretty much jumped in head-first.  We brought both dogs out into the wash behind our house and even let them off their leash to run around on their own (we’ve never done that before).

Holy shit, they loved it.

Basically, we’ve had a free pile of gold just sitting behind our house, lying in wait…blind as we apparently are, we never saw it and instead spent thousands of dollars sending our dogs to daycare.

Okay, so we probably bone-headed this in the past, but as far as I’m concerned, all’s well that ends well.  We now have a couple different free options to choose from that not only let our dogs run around and get exercise, but also socialize with other dogs in the process.

And have I mentioned that I’m a big fan of the low, low price of free?

Free stuff is the best stuff, especially when it is stuff that you actually need.  And man, we needed to find a solution to paying for daycare.

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8 responses to “How the dog park saved us $200/month”

  1. Right on.

    We ditched the doggy day care once we moved into a house with a huge backyard. We also back up against a nature reserve and some mountains that I take both dogs hiking every morning after my workout.

    You will enjoy the extra $200/month to put towards your Freedom Fund. And your dogs won’t notice the difference…actually they will enjoy the change of scenery. It is great mental stimulation for them when they get to explore new environments. Or so I have been told 🙂


    • Dogs are prime examples of creatures that only really need the bare necessities. I understand the whole socialization aspect with dogs who may be a little over aggressive or withdrawn, but there are other – much more inexpensive – ways to socialize your animals. I think some people can learn a thing or two about how simple our lives really can be after looking at how dogs live. 🙂

  2. You can do a lot with that $200 extra per month – right on!

    This is why the Mrs. and I have stated away from dogs entirely, working 9-5 just doesn’t allow us to have dogs. Yeah we could pay for daycare, but it just doesn’t seem worth it unless someone is home to hang out with them.

    Our cats on the other hand…love it when we are gone

    • Brian,

      Ha! That totally sounds like cats to me. Dogs need love and affection. Cats need…well, for you to stay the hell out of their way. Ah…cats.

      But yeah, there is no doubt about it that dogs are an added expense. But, they are like our kids at the moment, so they give us something to look forward to when we come home. They make us laugh a lot more than frown, so as long as the ratio is skewed far enough in THAT direction, we’re happy. 🙂

  3. Wrapped around her duclaw? Is that the word you were searching for?

    I think that once you got a second dog the need for socialization time should be less important. Your dogs are forming their own little “pack” of 2 which they should hopefully learn to take cue’s from each other. But dog parks are great. I think they are an easy way for you to just let them get all that crazy energy out everyday so you can bring home a tired dog at the end of the day.

    • Zee,

      You are right on regarding the pack – our newest dog definitely follows our older dog around and observes by watching her what to do and where to go. It’s interesting to watch, actually. And when one of the dogs hears something and goes running out the door into the backyard, the other one follows closely behind even if they didn’t hear a thing. They want to go together. They like being together.

  4. Daniel says:

    I can totally relate to this. Happy to finally see an article about it. I am very frugal overall, yet I’m currently spending about $200 per month for my dog to go to daycare twice a week (which seems like it could go a long way towards my saving/investing goals). At the moment, I feel it’s justified due to 1. The amount of stress it eliminates from my life not feeling the pressure to get my dog out enough after a long day of work. 2. It probably cuts down on my wife and I’s restaurant expense, as coming home from a busy day of work, getting the dog out for an hour, and making dinner is difficult to do 5 nights a week. We also live in a cold weather state. Trying to get your dog out during the winter when it’s dark at 5pm and below zero for 2 weeks straight can be quite the challenge 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Hey Daniel – dogs certainly can be expensive I tell you. Now that I work from home, quitting the daycare madness was pretty much a no-brainer for us. Now, we’re walking the dogs so much that even the dog park isn’t necessarily a requirement any longer. But yeah, that $200 can be much better spent (saved) elsewhere for sure! 🙂

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