Being a dog parent in the city comes with a host of challenges, from squeezing in midday walks to schlepping across town for vet visits to making sure your pet doesn’t eat anything questionable off of the ground. Despite these ongoing struggles, sharing a home with your lovable, loyal, adorably-named best friend is beyond worth it. And thankfully, there are a few great apps for city-dwelling dog owners in need of a helping hand.
Rover is the certifiable O.G. in the dog walking app world. The company acquired dog sitting app DogVacay in 2017, so it’s a force in the overnight boarding space as well. Available in cities all over the country, Rover’s intuitive interface enables dog owners to find and connect with dog walkers for those long workdays, and overnight sitters for your much-needed vacation. All communication with prospective sitters or walkers can be done directly in-app. Users also have access to real time GPS tracking, photo updates and alerts, and can make all payments through the app. The company claims to heavily vet its prospective sitters (less than 20% acceptance rate), and offers insurance and 24/7 customer support for added peace of mind. Price points are set by the walkers themselves, and they vary based on location and day. With a 4.9-star average rating on the Apple app store, Rover is one of the most trusted and reliable platforms out there.
Reminiscent of the Uber vs. Lyft rivalry we know so well, Wag! is a newer, NYC-based version of Rover. One of the main differences is that during the Wag! sign-up process, you’re asked a series of questions about your situation and are automatically assigned a sitter or walker, rather than choosing one for yourself. Wag! also offers more on-demand options where you don’t need to provide much notice, ideal for emergency or last minute situations. Another distinction is that Wag! ensures fixed prices by market, averaging about $20 per 30-minute walk. The app has a 4.6-star average rating on the Apple app store, so it’s a bit of a toss up when comparing with Rover. We’d recommend testing out the sign-up flows for each and seeing which experience appeals most to you and your pup.
Being a first time pet parent can be a terrifying, paranoia-inducing experience. When your dog is acting strange or exhibiting symptoms of illness, arbitrary Google searches can often do more harm than good. And booking it over to the vet with a possibly sick dog in tow can be a frustrating feat, especially if it’s not clear whether anything is truly wrong. That’s where PetCoach, an app developed by PetCo, comes in. The app offers free, reliable, direct advice from certified veterinarians, nutritionists, and trainers. While experts on the app of course won’t give you official diagnoses or prescriptions, they can point you in the right direction so that you know what to do when you’re in a bind. They also have a database of questions and answers and helpful tips, so you might even find what you’re looking for just by searching through the app. The platform is free of charge and has a solid 4.7 rating, so it’s definitely worth a download.
There are numerous so-so apps for finding dog-friendly parks, but BringFido seems to be one of the few that provides information on restaurants, bars, beaches, events, and even hotels that allow dogs. There’s certainly some room for improvement when it comes to the ease and seamlessness of the user experience, but considering how difficult it is to find information about pet-friendly spots in around the city, it’s one of the best currently available resources. On the app or desktop site, you can search for attractions in your vicinity, add filters to get to a more specific type of restaurant or activity, and read reviews left by other users. Overall, you have to be willing to spend some time digging through listings to find what you’re looking for, but you just might stumble on something unexpected while you’re at it (who knew you could bring your dog to McNally Jackson?).
All screenshots taken from the iOS app store.