Jay Schwartz opened Dogtopia in Frederick County in April. He recently spoke with The News-Post to talk more about the doggy daycare.
What made you want to open Dogtopia?
I felt that Frederick needed an upscale dog facility. I’ve been a customer of Dogtopia since my dog was 2 years old, and now he’s 9. I’ve always liked the franchise and I’ve always like the idea of doggy day care. The location is also important. I wanted to make sure we were close to I-270, had convenient hours and not be far away in some industrial complex. We’re close to where the commuters are so we can accommodate them and provide a higher level of service as well.
What’s your background?
My background is actually in the hospitality industry. I worked for Marriott for more than 20 years on the financial side. I retired and spent a year in training getting myself very knowledgeable in dogs.
What are some of the services you offer?
We offer doggy day care. We also offer overnight boarding and we offer spa services. Later this year we intend to offer grooming as well. Spa services are washing, bathing, nail clipping, ear cleaning and we brush teeth.
How much do your services cost?
It depends. One day of day care is $35, but if you buy a package it’ll be substantially less than that. We offer up to 30-day packages as well as memberships. With the package you can pay as low as $27 a day.
An overnight stay starts at $57 and that includes day care, and the same packages apply.
Spa services vary based off of the size of the dog. A basic bath would be $17 for a small or medium-sized dog and up to $22 for a large dog. We have spa packages where we combine services, and that’s around $25 for a small or medium dog and $29 for a large dog. We offer discounts — the second dog is 15 percent off. We also offer discounts for first responders and military.
The facility has playroom webcams as well. Tell me about that.
We have an app, and once you download the app you can view the dogs completely online. You can see them play and watch them right from your phone, tablet or desktop.
Are all your staff members trained to work with canines?
Yes. All of our staff is certified in dog training and have years of experience. We have people who are former vet techs or have worked in doggy day care for multiple years. When you leave your dog here, you have experienced people working with them. All of our staff have to go through multiple modules to learn things regarding safety, health and cleaning regimens.
Tell me about the facility and where the dogs play.
We are an indoor facility, and our temperatures are controlled. We have three large playrooms and 4,000 square feet of space. The dogs in the playroom vary based on size and temperament. We do a full evaluation on the dog that takes about a half-hour. We make sure the dog is friendly to humans and friendly to other dogs. Then we decide which room they’ll best fit in by bringing them into the room and letting them interact with the dogs. We turn down aggressive dogs.
There’s always someone in the room with the dogs. We do give them some rest time so they can feed. We put them in a crate when we feed them and let them rest for about an hour or so and then they come out and play again.
Because we’re an indoor facility, we have three separate large air handling units on our roof that pump in fresh air constantly. Inside of these units we have sterile air filters that kill all airborne bacteria as well as any odors. If you walk through our facility you won’t smell anything.
We have rubber floors and potty platforms, which are little grass turf platforms in each of the rooms to assimilate grass. It sits above the floor on a plastic egg crate and it drains out into the sewer, so it’s completely sanitary.
What do you love about owning and operating Dogtopia?
I love being with the dogs, I love being with other dog owners. I’m not an absentee owner. I’m here all the time. I love just sitting and watching the dogs, I actually go into the rooms myself and watch the dogs play and work with the coaches.