Need your thoughts on DOG PARKS - especially VA residents


New Member
If you live in Virginia, or even if you don't!, take a look at this.

I have an idea to build an indoor dog park in the Tidewater area of Virginia (Like near Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Norfolk).

Here are some general questions that I have for other people:
If you're familiar with Hampton Roads, what city do you think would use an indoor dog park the most?

How much would you be willing to pay per day? How much per month if you were a regular member of the park?

How much would you pay per day for doggie daycare? (including feeding, exercise, and maybe other basic services)

How big should an indoor dog park be? (With outdoor parks, 1 acre is considered to be pretty decent, but it would be rather expensive to construct a building that covers an acre!!)

What other services would you want to use at an indoor dog park? (ex/ grooming, behavior training, dog therapy, or one-on-one attention)

What is the best material for the FLOOR of an indoor park to be? (dirt, sand, laminate, gravel)

If you have other thoughts on this idea, please let me know! Thanks.


New Member
HI gsd4evr- I currently manage a doggie day care and people will pay top dollar for the care of their animals. You will probably need 2 or 3 seperate playlots to manage the different sized and temperament dogs. You can expect to get between $22-$30 per dog per day. A retail area should help with your profit margins and if you can find a good one, groomers bring in alot of business. My background is in training so I feel it is an absolute necessity to have a positive reinforcement trainer on board to handle behavioral questions and problems. I also used to live in the tidewater area and if you can afford it, an urban location like Norfolk will probably bring in the most clients...look into Va. Beach too. Good luck. Oh, and the best flooring outhere is poured rubber.

Jean Cote

Staff member
I'm not sure what "Individual pet therapy" is, so I didn't vote for it. :)

Sounds like a good idea, but you might run into trouble getting people to a dog park that they have to pay. Here in Canada there are some in every city which are free, so I'm not sure about Viginia. Perhaps there are none so it would be a good option.


New Member
Okay, I don't really like 'dog parks' where people can let everyone and their dogs 'socialise'. Nice in theory, but general dog people don't read dog bodylanguage as well as we would like and dog fights and BAD socialisation happens.

However, I still voted...

An outdoor area for the dogs
I may be interested in using an enclosed outdoor area for dogs, but I would be more inclined to use it when other dogs aren't there. ;)

A grooming service
Not a grooming service persey, but the availability of dog hydrobaths, perhaps.

Dog training classes
I'd be interested in 'positive' dog training classes.

Doggie daycare
I wouldn't use it, but I think it'd be good to have.

Pet merchandise
Always looking for someone else with merchandise! Especially good dog books.

Individual pet therapy
Also not sure what this is. Like chiro?

An exercise pool
Servre lack of dog pools in my area so would be interested!

But I'm in Australia, so I may be a weirdo.


New Member
Dog Park

Thanks for all the replies so far - Hopefully I will recieve a few more still!

Just to clarify, by individual dog therapy I was thinking of just having a seperate play area, room, and an extra employee to work with injured/recovering pets. Or just any special needs. That type of individual help. :dogblink:


New Member
I'm a bit unclear as to how this facility would operate. Would it be a place where owners come to spend time with their dogs (like a regular dog park but the advantage is that it's indoors for when the weather is yucky) or would it be a place where owners drop their dogs off for a few hours or for the whole day (like a doggie daycare)? Who is responsible for the dogs while in the facility - the owners or the staff?

If it's like a regular but private dog park, I would expect that the park should be cleaner than a public dog park (because there would be hired staff to help clean up and maintain the grounds). I think a fee of anywhere from $1 - 5 per dog per entry is maybe the cost is $2 per entry if you have one dog but $1 per dog if you bring 2 dogs....if this was the ONLY service the owner is using....and maybe you could have punch cards like you can buy 10 visits for a slightly cheaper rate, like doggie daycares and health clubs!

Also, to be "better" than the regular public dog parks, dogs should be required to undergo an interview first like most doggie daycares require. This is to ensure that the dogs in this private dog park are sociable with other dogs and not aggressive. In a public dog park technically aggressive and sick dogs are not allowed, but in reality it's so difficult to enforce the rules except by informal "peer pressure" and I have on several occasions seen aggressive dogs being brought in which was quite scary. Heck I would go so far as to say that the OWNERS should be required to take and pass a test before being allowed to use this private dog park. Such a test could cover basic obedience training, knowledge of dog-park etiquette (e.g. don't let your dog jump up on other people, don't let your dog bully other dogs in play), knowledge of dog behavior (so owners would know when and how to intervene or supervise their dogs' behavior to maintain the public peace). If owners are lacking in these skills or knowledge, then your facility can provide training classes for them to get them up to speed before they are allowed to use this private dog park.

If it was a doggie daycare where owners drop their dogs off for the day and the staff supervises them in the owner's absence, then I would expect the rates to be a bit higher than for the existing franchise doggie day cares since this new facility would have larger outdoor play areas and thereby probably require more staff to maintain good supervision.

I like the idea of training classes because it provides mental stimulation for the dogs, but might I add I think it would be a good idea for the training classes to be formatted this way (dunno if practical or not, just an idea):
First when you drop the dog off at daycare, a staff trainer conducts one-on-one training sessions with the dog. You should have already been advised of the training methods used - so you can decide if you approve of the things they're gonna do to your dog or not - and each session will be video'ed and uploaded to their website so you can later review how the session went and see firsthand how the trainer interacts with your dog. (I have read horror stories of doggie daycares that put anti-bark collars on the dogs without telling the owners they were doing it, and in one case the battery from the collar leaked and gave the dog skin burns, as someone who has put my dog in daycare I always opt for those that have webcams so I can check on my dog throughout the day!...). Then at the end of the day or at the end of the week, you can have a short private session with the trainer so they can show you how to maintain the training on your own.

The trainers could be local trainers who would just spend a couple days a week at your facility. i.e. unlike the big-box petstores where the trainers are first and foremost store employees who may or may not have experience in dog training, here you could actually contract out "real" or "serious" dog trainers who are already out there running their own training businesses, and they would just have a contract to come and spend some time at your facility each week (in exchange they get a steady stream of clients and recommendations and a source of referrals to their regular training business for more advanced classes)

As for how large the outdoor area should be - I think an acre is good! the floor surface: some doggie daycares have this rubber mat type surface because it is easy on dog's joints. Or maybe you could just have sand as the surface for easy cleanup, like at an indoor stockshow arena.