In August 2014, Alexa Chavez adopted a dog named Calie and immediately noticed the young pitbull tugging on pant legs, jumping on people and barking at every dog that passed by, begging to play.
Chavez enrolled her in group training classes. Two months later, Calie started one-on-one work with a professional trainer. By the time winter hit, the young pup would sit as other dogs passed on the sidewalk and look to Chavez for direction.
“That was kind of our ‘Aha’ moment,” said Chavez. “It made my life so much better, made my life with her so much fun, I just want everyone to experience this.”
Inspired by the progress she made with Calie, the Forest Parker started watching dog training videos online, taking classes, and operating a profile on Rover.com, which allowed her to start a dog-walking business. Four years later, she has teamed up with her brother Alex and friend Alana to open a physical space dedicated to dog boarding and training at 7211 Franklin St.
Dog Den Chicago will have a grand-opening party from 12 to 3 p.m. on Aug. 11, and officially open the following Monday, Aug. 13. Those who attend and sign up for services during the opening party will receive a coupon for 10 percent off their first week of boarding, and all new customers receive 5 percent off their first service. Boarding costs $30 per day, and overnight stays cost $50. Training can range from $20 group classes to $5,000 personalized training. There is space for about 30 dogs in the new facility, and Chavez said some of the trio’s clients from Rover.com have already reserved spaces.
“We’re up to date on the newest forms of training, techniques and stuff, and we’re open to learning new things. Also we still love it so much, we watch videos all day long,” said Chavez, 23, noting that dog training is an apprenticeship and that there is no required formal training process.
The group started looking for a location in January and, a few months later, fell in love with the 3,000-square-foot space.
The trio specializes in balance training, a philosophy that essentially says dogs should be praised for good behavior and scolded for bad. In addition to letting the pups run around the facility, she said the group plans to take dogs on field trips to restaurants on downtown Lake Street in Oak Park, Petco in River Forest, and more.
“It’s training in big places, not just in a training room. We want to work with them when they’re distracted and get them used to that stuff,” Chavez said. “We wanted to stick in this area because they’re communities where everyone knows each other and can be like a giant family.”