Good news for dog owners. Columbus is welcoming its first indoor dog park. Tail Wags Playground recently opened at 1010 W. Fifth Ave. in Fifth by Northwest offering 7,500 square feet of pup play space.
Tail Wags’ ample off-leash play area with toys, agility equipment and supervision is available to dog owners at a daily, monthly and yearly rate. A $15 day pass gives a pup in and out access to play all day. An unlimited monthly membership aimed at seasonal play runs $87.50 per month, or pet owners can go all-in for an unlimited yearly pass at a grand opening discount of $800.
Each pup player must meet a list of requirements to enter. Dogs must be at least nine months old, up to date on vaccines (don’t forget the documentation!), spayed or neutered and socialized.
“It allows us to keep the space as safe as possible, as healthy as possible for the dogs,” Owner Steffanie Sanchez says.
Tail Wag is not just for the dogs, though.
“What makes us unique even from the indoor dog parks that do exist out there is that we focus a lot on the dog lover, on the experience of the dog lover,” Sanchez says.
Once all that energy has been unleashed, pup and human can head over to the specially-designed on-leash lounge with hooks and bolts to keep dogs nearby. There’s also coffee from locally-roasted One Line and free WiFi for the humans to enjoy.
Tail Wags stocks a number of locally-made pup-themed products as well. Alison Rose features dog-based designs, Marlow Anne’s Boutique stocks bow-ties for the four-legged crowd, and local artists decorate the walls with their pet-inspired work.
It’s touches like these that make the concept unique. Many of the indoor dog parks Sanchez found in her research are concentrated mostly on the coasts and don’t just stop at play, incorporating expanded services like boarding, daycare and grooming. Instead, Tail Wags aims to create a space that celebrates the bond between animal and human.
The overwhelming bond she experienced with her own pup, Jake, led Sanchez to explore the concept. She had pets growing up, but having her own for which she was totally responsible raised a whole new level of love and devotion.
“I obsessed over him as I’m sure lots of dog lovers do,” Sanchez says.
A terrier mix, Jake is a pup with a lot of energy and while she made her rounds at the dog parks in Columbus, she saw some things she didn’t love – rules weren’t always enforced and there was no telling what pups would be there. Sanchez thought if there was an indoor park, she would pay to go. She didn’t realize Columbus didn’t actually have one until she started searching for it. It was then a seed was planted.
In 2011 she started putting her ideas on paper and by 2012, “I really looked at a business plan and saw the financials around it and realized this could potentially be a sustainable business for me,” Sanchez says.
That year she exited her career in marketing to pursue the pup playground. She expected it to be a 10 – 12 month process. As most business ventures do, things obviously ended up taking a bit longer than expected.
The process of finding the location alone took 18 months. Sanchez pulled data to help identify the most viable neighborhoods, landing on urban areas like Clintonville, German Village and Grandview.
“One thing that stood out…the urban areas that have little to no yards already have an existing need for a place to take their dogs,” she says.
But more than a location Tail Wags needed a specific type of building as Sanchez aimed to minimize the cost of making the space what it needed to be for business use. Features like high ceilings, overhead doors and floor drains (the floors are sanitized every night) made the space in Fifth by Northwest that was at one time home to Central Ohio graphics, ideal.
Although a few years in the making, Tail Wags opened its doors just a few weeks ago to much fanfare. Sanchez says the quick momentum and chatter built through social media was much more than expected. A hashtag #tailwagsplay has helped spread the word.
“It helps us that people love sharing their dog pictures,” Sanchez says.
She hopes to keep the online momentum going, but expects the business to do so as it finds a solution to a problem that was previously unmet for dog owners in Columbus.
For more information, visit tailwagsplayground.com.