DogiZone: They Make It Easy!
By Kathy Hosler
Photos by Chris Joao & Matt McCord
“I started my dog training company, Canine Obedience Unlimited, in 2005, and for the first few years it was just me, myself and I,” says Andrew Fraser. “We eventually grew to a team of five, but for the first 10 years we were a fairly small business.”
In 2015, Andrew decided to rebrand and expand his business. About 30 miles from his current location, he found a 12,000 sq. ft. building that was once an automotive transmission shop. It was an empty building except for some small office areas. The building didn’t even have air conditioning, but Andrew saw its possibilities.
Starting from the ground up, Andrew and his team began to transform the empty building into an all-inclusive, premier pet resort. They installed artificial turf in most of their outdoor play areas, rubber floors where they were going to have daycare activities and epoxy floors where the boarding would be.
“We have had significant growth in the last five years,” says Andrew. “When we moved into our current facility, we were a several-hundred-thousand-dollar company and are now a multimillion-dollar company. As a result of this massive growth, we have been recognized with several awards along the way. This includes awards like Best Boarding and Pet Sitters in Montgomery County, Maryland to (most notably) being listed on the prestigious 2020 Inc. 5,000 list of fastest growing privately owned companies.”
The resort can house about 125 dogs for overnight boarding in their accommodations, which run from traditional crate options to small and medium cabins to extra-large luxury suites. In addition to their lodging choice, owners can select activity packages such as group playtime, puppy and senior dog packages, fitness time or special treats.
Three program choices are available to daycare attendees. The first is pack play, which is basically an all-day playgroup. Then there is personalized play, a one-on-one with a staff member which was designed for dogs that are not a good fit for pack play or that need special attention. The premier level, Playcademy®, is individually customized for the ultimate experience. These dogs get playtime with the other dogs, they can join in exercising with the fitness trainer, work on life skills and manners, take agility lessons and more.
Five thousand sq. ft. of indoor play space and 7,500 sq. ft. of fenced outdoor space provides plenty of room for romping pups. Typically, 90-125 dogs attend the Monday through Friday daycare per day.
DogiZone’s brand promise is, “We make it easy,” and one way they achieve that is through their transportation service. Owners can arrange for their dog to be picked up for daycare while their busy family prepares for the day. Then, the happy, tuckered-out pup can be returned at the end of the day, even if the owners are not home from work yet. This convenient service is also available for grooming appointments, training classes and boarding.
“We make constant and never-ending improvements to our facility, staff and the services we supply to our clients,” says Andrew. “Every year we do a large expansion of some sort. We recently added three roofs over our outdoor play areas, and also a 24-hour standby backup generator.”
DogiZone’s specialty has always been dog training and it is a huge part of their business. In addition to Andrew, there are eight trainers on staff. Their training methods teach clients how to interact with their dogs in a way that creates a safe, happy, healthy and low-stress relationship for both dogs and owners.
“As a full-service dog training company, we evaluate each dog prior to making a recommendation for a training program,” says Andrew. “After the evaluation, we determine which type of program and training approach is best for the dog. We work with the client to customize and tailor a program for their dog versus a one-size-fits-all approach. I think that separates us from a lot of other places,” Andrew adds emphatically.
The DogiZone University program provides unique group training classes. With over 30 group classes held per week, owners can sign up for a membership and train at their own pace. They can come two to three days a week, or even every other week. It gives a lot of flexibility to the owners who have busy lives. Every dog starts out at preschool or elementary, depending on the age of the dog. And as they complete the requirements for each university program, they graduate to the next level.
Above and beyond the university program, they also offer Board and Train Camp, which has become one of their most popular programs.
DogiZone is in the midst of a 5,000 sq. ft. expansion. They are rolling out a new fitness department, as well as the DogiMarket (a full retail store) and a new training center.
“With people being so health conscious these days, canine fitness is now on the cutting edge,” says Andrew. “They want their dogs to live longer and healthier lives. If we can coach people about their dogs’ overall health, nutrition and fitness, we can do a lot to prevent bigger issues from happening.
“I, and two other team members, have become certified as canine fitness trainers through the University of Tennessee. There are five certified fitness trainers in Maryland, and three of them are at DogiZone,” Andrew proudly shares.
Their fitness center, DogiFit, has many specially designed programs for weight management, arthritis management, conditioning for canine athletes and more. They also offer private and group workouts. Any owner who wants to sign their dog up for a fitness program has to fill out a four-page history form and the dog also undergoes a fitness evaluation.
The core purpose of DogiZone is to enhance the lives of dogs and their owners. In order to accomplish that, they have a team of about 40 staff members.
“Our staff is one of our biggest assets,” says Andrew. “Nothing is more important to me. My philosophy is, if we take care of our employees, they will take care of our clients. Our full-time team members get three to four weeks of paid vacation, their birthday off with pay, a 401K, health insurance and employee discounts.”
From the beginning, DogiZone has had an online presence. Their website, www.dogizone.com, contains a wealth of information and videos which clients and potential clients can access. A dedicated digital marketing team helps maintain their website and social media sites. The website also features several special offers for new clients.
“Yes, our special offers do bring in a lot of clients,” shares Andrew. “But, the most important thing is that we do a great job for them so they come back. A special offer is only as good as the service we provide.”
Stellar service coupled with quality care and training in one convenient location is why DogiZone can proudly say, “We make it easy!”