GymDog was an idea - a pipedream - months before it was a reality. It was the thing we wished existed in our area, the thing we talked about late at night, but didn’t seem like something that we could actually accomplish. Our idea was to have a place where the dog training community in our area could come to meet up, work with their dogs, and bounce ideas off each other. A place where new and veteran dog owners alike could find support in their pursuit of having happy, healthy, and well behaved companions. The idea originally was to have something like a gym, with the expectation that training was a journey that needed to be constantly built on and maintained - just like physical fitness - not something that could really be properly accomplished in a single “one-and-done” class.
When our first son was born, we found ourselves facing a small window of opportunity: we had a couple of weeks off work, a bit of money in the bank, and a chance to make our dream a reality. We took the plunge and officially started GymDog on June 21st, 2016. We began working out of the trunk of our car, running small group classes outside of Sanders Animal Hospital and Cherokee Hospital for animals.
Our little business slowly began to blossom and by October of 2016, facing upcoming winter weather, we were able to get a lease on a great little 1500 square foot facility on Main street in downtown Johnson City. This little building opened some wonderful opportunities for us and we were able to continue our group classes and begin offering low cost private lessons. For the next 3 years, we pushed on, meeting, working with, and learning from so many wonderful people and dogs along the way. Our little business continued to slowly grow.
In October of 2019, our Lease ran out, and after much contemplation, we decided not to renew. Our plan was to save the lease money to hopefully prepare to open a larger facility in a few years. At this time, we were able to partner with the Washington County Humane Society and began offering a few group classes there each week. In addition, we continued to offer private lessons during this time.
Who could have possibly predicted what 2020 would hold for people across the world? In May, we began offering day training out of our home to help minimize personal contact during the worst of Covid. Day training became a well loved staple with our clients. As the world began to pull itself back together in the months that followed, so did we. God blessed us and we actually came out of 2020 stronger than ever. During this time we also began to add our first employees.
In the summer of 2021, we hired our second trainer, Cassie, and also began looking for a new facility to rent. Once again, God blessed us and many things came together to allow us to open our current facility in Elizabethton. This new 5800 square foot facility has opened up so many opportunities for us. With the extra space and our new trainer, we were able to greatly expand the size and scope of the group classes that we offered. We now proudly offer dog sports including agility, rally obedience, and flyball. In addition, we are able to offer a wide range of obedience and manners classes for dogs of many skill levels, as well as a number of excellent “elective” courses covering a wide range of topics from therapy dog training, to tricks, to dog reactivity. Of course, one of the best parts of being at our new facility has been watching the awesome community of dog owners that has grown around us. Our awesome clients are helping our dream become a reality. We are even beginning to build competitive sports teams!
An integral part of our new business style at the new facility has been our GymDog memberships. We have finally been able to begin experimenting with our original dream of offering our signature gym-style membership-based training. This modality of training is still in “Beta mode” and we are constantly working to perfect it. Some of the benefits of our membership based training include access to classes multiple times a week at a low cost, options to retake classes or class topics multiple times, and flexible scheduling.
We have a fantastic schedule of classes and events for 2023. We will be offering more comprehensive, structured start-to-finish classes for our lower level puppy, obedience and Agility courses. We have plans to add on scentwork training and will continue to offer the ever popular day training. Finally, our trainer, Cassie, is a certified AKC Fit Dog instructor and will begin offering AKC Fit dog classes. We can’t wait to include you and your dog in our memberships, classes, and community as they continue to evolve.