GoDog offers plenty of care options for pet owners in Chattanooga

Staff Photo by Olivia Ross  / Ryder plays at the dog park Jan. 20. GoDog Chattanooga, a new dog boarding, day care and social place, is open on West 20th Street.
Staff Photo by Olivia Ross / Ryder plays at the dog park Jan. 20. GoDog Chattanooga, a new dog boarding, day care and social place, is open on West 20th Street.

Options are the name of the game when it comes to caring for your pet at GoDog Chattanooga, a new business that opened in a former car dealership facility with 16,000 square feet of inside and outside space at 255 W. 20th St.

In addition to things like grooming services, GoDog Stay offers boarding options, while GoDog Play offers day care services, and GoDog Social offers pet owners a place to hang out with their pets.

After getting approval from the Chattanooga Beer & Wrecker Board this month, owners can also bring their dogs to the large outdoor play area and drink a beer and watch a ballgame while their pet plays with others.

It's a full-service concept, and the owners have other facilities in Durham, North Carolina, and Nashville, and a West Street Dog in Raleigh, North Carolina. Co-founder and President of GoDog Chattanooga Ben Eberdt said plans are to take the business national.

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In many ways, the facilities are part country club and part day care in that most people buy a monthly and yearly membership and treat it as a place to hang out with their family, including pets, on a regular basis.

"The comparison to a country club is not unfounded," Eberdt said. "It's also a dog park, but a really nice dog park."

He said the outside area is outfitted with canine turf that is easily cleaned and that the staff is diligent in keeping it clean.

Eberdt said by phone that the cost for GoDog's service varies greatly because of the a la carte services. The cost can also vary because of the particular needs of the animal, as some need more time and/or attention than others.

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Some owners drop their pets of for an hour or two, and some need boarding for several days and nights.

"We offer discounts for monthly or yearly memberships," he said.

Each visitor to GoDog has to register, and the pet is evaluated.

General Manager Ellen Ness said by phone that said she has a staff of about 20 people and is looking to hire more. Each staff member receives training in how to care for a variety of pets from big or small, young or old, aggressive or shy.

Staff members are also trained to recognize behavioural traits and to prevent a potential problem before a dog becomes overly aggressive, for example.

"We train them to look at body language and to know the dogs and their triggers," Ness said. "The key is to be observant and to prevent trouble before it happens."

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Like in a day care environment with children, Eberdt said the dogs also like to follow a routine and there is a rhythm to the GoDog day.

"It's funny, there is a flurry of excitement when they all get there in the morning," he said, "and it happens again in the afternoon when people start arriving to pick them up. But, if you came here around 1 or 2, they'll be lying down.

"There is a rhythm. One of them will lie down, and then they all will."

As part of keeping things familiar, Eberdt said some owners choose to bring in their pet's food, though some choose to let GoDog provide meals.

As parents with children in day care learn also, the dogs are happier, and worn out, after a day of routine and play, Eberdt said.

"The clients realize pretty quickly that there is value in having them socialize with other people and other dogs," he said. "And, they are worn out when they go home at time."

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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