Red Rover Pet Services LLC has been in business continually since 2004 and is not closing.

Over the years Heidi has been quick on her feet to adjust to your needs, foster her own personal growth in pet care, and to offer cutting edge services that best support your dog. That hasn’t changed! In August 2023 we adapted our services again.


Boarding continues on a small scale for our customers and add new services that will better support them and allow new people and dogs to join in and take advantage of what we have to offer.


Keep an eye on this website, ensure your emails from and not going to spam, call, email, and/or text to stay in touch or to get involved:


We look forward to supporting the good life for you and your dogs for many years to come!

Heidi is a founder of carefree daycare in Nashville. She opened her first business to give her the flexibility to complete her pre-veterinary science classes.


When she bought Red Rover in 2005 she found out she was pregnant. Running a daycare continued to support her family and allow her the freedom to raise Svea while Rob worked outside the home. While running a social dog daycare for almost 20 years was great training for Heidi in social dog, group behavior; it was time consuming. It didn’t allow her to continue her studies in behavior.


When the 10 year lease ended at Hermitage Avenue, Heidi opted to focus on training, education for care of our companion animals, and advocacy for the care of those companions. This allowed her to spend time with her family during Svea’s senior year in high school.


Continuing boarding on a small scale allows Heidi to contribute to the support of her family and continue to learn from dogs in social, group settings.

Our pet portal automatically emails important changes and information about Red Rover’s care to all current customers. You are responsible for receiving these emails and knowing about these changes.


You will remain informed as long as you keep an updated email address on the portal and make sure emails from are marked VIP and not going to your junk folder. If for some reason you stop care for a period of time and can no longer sign into PetExec, you agree to accept all changes that have happened in your absence when you are granted access again. We attempt to keep the website and this FAQ up-to-date for your information!

Red Rover currently requires all dogs to prove up-to-date vaccinations for:

  • ITB/Bordetella aka Kennel Cough Vaccine
  • Distemper & Parvo Vaccines – often in the form of a multi such as DAPPV
  • Rabies after 3 months of age

Some vaccines may be waived with a current titer. Ask management for more information.

Short answer: no.

We provide the same level of care to every dog guest staying with us. Care is priced the same for each guest regardless of size, etc.

Red Rover is considered cage-free in that dogs are not isolated in individual kennels or rooms. However dogs are placed in smaller groups inside, based upon their size and temperament, in areas that may be surrounded by fencing.

Extensive experience and fascination with behavior taught our general manager that social canine customers are more comfortable when they are not isolated no matter how fancy the isolation area is. Dogs who are comfortable tend to sleep and eat better when enjoying the opportunity to play and rest with other dog friends.

Nights and down times are quieter here. Here dogs don’t stress bark when they’re lonely and afraid because they are not isolated. We work diligently and use our experience to help dogs feel safe, more relaxed, and included.

We have a handful of professional kennels for mealtimes, for isolating those who are experiencing illness or who need a break from other dogs, or to provide care for legacy customers who no longer wish to play with strangers.

  • Boarding dogs WAKE UP!, go outside, then are offered breakfast if applicable.
  • Dogs join their smaller, inside groups for play or rest.
  • *Outside we go every few hours for play/potty time in larger groups. Dogs are still separated by size and more closely supervised while in the main yard. 
  • **Back inside to rest or play in smaller groups based not just on size but also temperament. We LOVE it when experienced dogs choose their own area!
  • Dogs are separated for dinner.
  • Another potty break before beds go down and it’s lights out.

*Yard time outside varies depending upon weather and the desires of the dogs. We rarely keep dogs outside who are clamoring to go back in. Larger group play time can be continued inside or another potty break added midday if it is very unpleasant outside.

Since 2004 Red Rover has provided professional, group overnight care in a way that has proven safer than most isolating boarding kennels. This method, pioneered in our area by our owner Heidi Dixner, is more like daycare and not at all like traditional kennels, Heidi coined the term “nightcare”.


Dogs who are comfortable sleep and eat better and enjoy the ability to play and rest with other dog friends. They are without their family but they are not alone.


Heidi has been creating and providing specialized care for social dogs since 2000 in Nashville TN. She found that social dogs are more comfortable when they are not isolated, no matter how fancy the isolation area. Using TVs used to “keep dogs company” is problematice because of a mechanical whine just outside typical human hearing that can aggravate an already uncomfortable environment. Nonstop stress barking upsets other dogs, not just the barking dog and the people.


Before opening her first daycare, Heidi worked in traditional kennels and boarding facilities. Many dogs stress bark when they’re lonely and afraid. We work with those stressed out dogs, maintaining only customers who blossom and relax in our care. Nights and down times are quieter here.


Because we have decades of experience watching dogs play we make educated decisions about which dogs sleep better with other dogs in their area. During more than 20 years of our specialized care we have experienced no injuries between dogs from different families in the same area. We have observed some fun play behaviors via camera after hours! Ask Heidi about Gretchen’s blanket swap.


Other options include resting in a private area in view of other dogs or last resort, professional kennel and isolation rooms. Few dogs in our care enjoy isolation. Heidi has cared for dogs who are incredibly destructive at home alone during storms yet remain calm with dog friends at Red Rover. Ask Heidi about Lola’s Winston Room Rules vs. puppies during emergency storm protocols.


Finally a team member is onsite with the dogs at night in case of emergency. Hopefully they’re so comfortable they’re sleeping too!

To maximize the behavioral benefit for your dog, they are in group with other dogs. Just like children in daycare and school are exposed to risks we accept because we want them to learn to be comfortable in social settings. Dogs and people are social species!


Because of that there are some risks that may include:

  • Exposure to contagious viruses etc.
    Vaccinations are no guarantee your dog won’t catch something just as they are not for us! They can help if used properly and our vaccination requirements, cleaning protocols, and style of care should help avoid this risk. Please ask management or keep your dog home if they are coughing, unusually tired for no apparent reason, have vomiting/diarrhea, or have warts or missing fur and scabs. It is extremely uncommon to have an outbreak at Red Rover because dogs are not crowded however isolated customers have reported illness before or after leaving. This has been the case with the 2022 strain new to our area that has been causing ITB, infectious tracheo-bronchitis, aka kennel cough. To our knowledge we have never had a known incidence of canine flu, rabies, distemper, or parvo onsite.
  • Fleas & ticks
    If your dog is found to have fleas we will administer Capstar, an oral medication considered safe for puppies and cats. There is a charge for this medication. You accept responsibility for the fee and providing written proof to management if your dog can not take this medication for health reasons. Ticks are generally removed and destroyed manually. If you dog is found to be infested with ticks, we may isolate your dog and require immediate pickup for the safety of those in our care. Because of our protocols for dealing with these parasites, they are generally not found in our environment.
  • Injury by another dog
    We assess all dog’s behavior prior to any introduction to group. We test new dogs using team and rescue dogs we know we can handle and accept the minimal risk to them. That said, dogs are not machines. Just as we can’t always understand why some people irritate us from the start or sometime during a lifetime of friendship, we can’t always know that for the dogs in our care. Generally we supervise new dogs in group carefully, slowly adding other daycare dogs until we find good playmates for them. A small number of dogs may be restricted from other dogs while inside because their behavior here has proven a little erratic and we do not trust them without our eyes on them. Most dogs in our care find a group of good friends to hang out with day and sometimes night. None-the-less, things happen. Over the years we’ve been very successful managing and learning from many different dogs interacting. This experience minimizes but never eliminates the inherent risk of dogs in a social group.
  • Eating weird things
    Sometimes dogs eat rocks, feces, and other items that aren’t meant to be part of their diet. It can be a sign of inadequate nutrition, a nutritional deficiency, or a behavioral issue. We make every effort to catch and interrupt this behavior and will even cut outside time if necessary. If this happens it is our policy to let you know. Please tell us if you know your dog does these things so we can do our best to keep it from happening. That said, dogs can be sneaky and we can not stop those dogs who manage to swallow a lot of these things. Though dogs pick up rocks, swallowing them is not a common occurrence.
  • Dogs can be curious
    The longer we provide care for social dogs in group care, the more we learn. We’ve learned that certain things presents a small risk and we have removed them: some fencing, some floor mats, etc. That said, sometimes an injury happens anyway. We know that even after 20 years experience dogs will continue to surprise us with self-harming creative curiosity and keep us on our toes!
  • Weather and other risks to the building
    We have a protocol in place for the dogs to remain safer in the building and keep an eye on approaching storms. Our building has stood for decades through tornadoes and floods. We have fire alarms throughout the building and there is a staff person onsite at night just in case of emergency.
  • Fencing outside
    We are constantly aware that dogs can escape a yard. Every morning we check the perimeter fence. In the main yard, dogs are closely supervised for digging, climbing, or just showing too much interest in the top of our fence. We have never had a dog escape this location.

Please remove *chain slip & prong collars before arrival.

Red Rover is a dog nudist society! It is safer for them to play without anything around their neck. Choke chain and prong collars are not permitted because they are very dangerous in a playful setting. Staff are not taught how to remove them and items forgotten in long fur is a recipe for disaster. Our team is experienced with most harnesses and head halters however! If you’d like more information on ways to keep your dog from yanking you off your feet, talk to Heidi. She can update you on all the great options – techniques and hardware – out there for healthy, happy dogs and easier walking. *Flat martingale collars with a chain slip are permitted.

Boarding kennels feed their own food because it’s easier on them, not the dogs. Dogs away from their families have enough stress to manage and digestive upset from a sudden change in food is easy enough to avoid. That’s why we want you to bring your dog’s food.

In the interest of reducing waste please bring your dog’s kibble in reusable containers or a single, smaller bag with instructions on how much and how often your dog eats. You are welcome to separate by meal if that is your preference. Please do not, however, bring a very large bag or container with many more meals that your dog will need. Our space for this is limited so we can maximize the space for the dogs.

We happily accommodate a dog’s raw or refrigerated diet. Our owner feeds raw protein to her dogs and cats.

It’s expensive because Heidi is an obsessive, label reader who tries to stay up-to-date on the healthiest ingredients for mammals. Just ask her child if they wants mom to read the label when asked to buy cheap, tasty stuff for the house! Red Rover kibble is expensive with ingredients approved specifically by Heidi. We have it here for our rescues and just-in-case you forget to bring your own. We pass that expense on as needed rather than charge everyone for it.

Our care is expensive because we keep our numbers down. We keep a smaller, well trained team that is better paid than many of our competitors.

We fill our space with less than 50% of the dogs other daycares do. Heidi believes when you have over a “magic” number in the space, care is no longer fun for the dogs or the team. We enjoy being profitable and are not interested in maximizing that profit by providing care most dogs do not enjoy.

Many of our customers have trusted Red Rover to care for their dogs for their entire lives and onto the next generation of pups in their family. We have developed a loyal group of customers and generally do not accept many unknown dogs. Because of this, we are often able to accommodate our regular customers.

That said we have been around and successful for a long time so we do book up. Advance reservations are safest and much appreciated! We will work with you for cancellations and do not apply penalties unless a customer cancels reservations often, especially during those busy holidays.

During the Holiday season there is a price increase added to overnights to address a larger team presence. We allow more night care dogs during this time to accommodate our regular customers’ needs. More dogs = more staff hours. We advise booking early to reserve your pet’s spot! Holiday fee is typically +$6/pet/night.


In our owner’s experience over the last 20+ years, spayed female dogs and neutered males dogs are the best players at Red Rover.

We may make an exception for limited intact females so please talk to our general manager if you have a request. We do not care for female dogs in heat or going into heatPlease note, we do not enroll male dogs who are intact, not neutered, and over 6 months of age, no exceptions.

During our lengthy experience providing group care for social dogs we have observed that many neutered adult dogs are aggravated by intact, maturing males in their group. Most dogs in our area are neutered before 6 months of age. Dogs typically begin maturing sexually between 6-8 months.


Since our goal is to provide group care for social dogs, males over 6 months in our care are neutered because many:

  • begin to mature sexually at 6 months and
  • cause difficulty for neutered males in their groups.

We are aware of some studies that suggest better physical development for puppies who remain intact longer, we simply choose not to provide care for them so that we may care better for those who do meet our criteria. Our goal is safe socialization. We encourage you to work with your veterinarian to make the best physical decisions for your dog and your behaviorist to make the best developmental decisions for social behavior.

There is research that indicates delaying neuter may optimimize physical development. We applaud you for seeking more knowledge about your dog’s development and health! Unfortunately dogs who are developing sexually are not well received in social group care, in our experience. This puts your dog at risk and we don’t want that!


We hope you will neuter when you believe it’s safest for your dog and come back to us. Neutering dogs who roam or may escape reduces the number of fabulous dogs dying in shelters every day. Sadly we don’t have enough homes for all the great dogs being born in Tennessee.


We understand if you decide not to neuter your dog for their lifetime and know you take great care that they never leave your side unattended. You might wish to read other studies about minimizing the risk of cancer that neutering provides for your best friend.


Regardless we believe group social care greatly increases risks for intact dogs so we do not provide it.

We provide everything your dog needs during care, ideally except their food. Considering our environment, where dogs are with other dogs as much as possible, adding personal items can be risky.

  • Items may be destroyed, dirtied, or forgotten at pickup.
  • Dogs may protect their “stuff” just like some of us do. That can cause unnecessary tension or dogs may pee on it to claim it for themselves.
  • Do you have any idea how many bowls, scoops, and other items we have in our inventory because they look too much like ours or they’ve been forgotten? Hint: in spite of our steady growth we haven’t bought additional stainless bowls or measuring cups for decades.

You’re busy. Some changes happen and they don’t get communicated to us and we make mistakes. Sometimes we just make mistakes! We teach our team to ask at every boarding dropoff.

Yes although we don’t call it being “kicked out”. We call it what it really is: not being a good fit for our care or that your dog doesn’t like it here. We can’t be everything for every dog and we don’t want to be.

Red Rover isn’t about putting your dog in a box, physically separated from contact with others. Most kennels out there provide that option. Some dogs just want to stay home alone and can do that safely. That’s ok too.

Our team will keep you up-to-date on how your dog is doing while in our care if we are concerned. No news is good news but feel free to ask for an update.

There are no bad dogs. We can say that because, unlike humans, we believe the small percentage of truly antisocial domestic dogs are euthanized or kept isolated from the public. If you hear Heidi call your dog a “bad dog” it’s almost certainly a term of endearment. Her granddogger Rubi is the original BD.

We never intend to offend you by giving feedback on how your dog is doing at Red Rover. That feedback may be invaluable as the first sign of a health problem for your dog, especially if it’s a significant change in behavior for an adult dog who’s usually comfortable at Red Rover.

At first Heidi didn’t understand how triggering it can be to hear your dog isn’t a good fit for Red Rover because she understands that most dogs know why they do what they do while it is rarely easy for people to interpret or solve. Until her human child started a group program that wasn’t a good fit for them at that age. When she picked them up and got the whole story her heart broke and she immediately thought about people with dogs who are challenged by Red Rover care. Now she gets it! Please accept her sincere apology if she ever hurt your feelings by sharing news of your dog’s behavior.

That said, we are never saying your dog is bad no matter what we tell you. They aren’t! We are telling you what behavior we observe and what we think that means. We know that most dogs have a reason for doing what they do, just like people do. Being a different species we may not understand it or it may make our style of care unsuitable for them. They’re still a good dog for themselves and your family!


We try to work with everyone and we know we all have bad days.

Here are some sure ways to be escorted off the property, hahaha not really – we’ll just tell you politely:

  • Being rude to the team and unfailingly sweet to the people you believe are in power: Please treat us all the same. Apologize if you lose your temper. Tell us you’re having a bad day. It happens to all of us. We’re all doing the best we can and Red Rover will not stay healthy without our wonderful team.
  • Not following the rules: Our lobby times and other rules are in place for everyone’s safety and sanity. Please respect them!
  • Blaming us for your dog being a dog: This is a group care facility. We all accept some risks so that dogs get the chance to socialize and play. Dogs sometimes get hurt, come home dirtier, or smell different due to play or engaging with other dogs when they have a bad day. If you don’t trust us to make the best decisions for your dog while they’re in our care, we are a bad fit for you. Please seek a care provider for your dog that meets those needs and which you can trust.

Thanks to our experience and facination with behavior we just might be able to help.

Dogs who have not been successful in other places sometimes fit-in here just fine. While we only accept social dogs and do not care for dogs with a history of biting other dogs or people, we can work with dogs who have minor difficulty in play groups with other dogs. We also can work with overly boisterous or timid dogs. The key is to provide us with all the information you have so we have the best chance to provide the care your dog needs right from the beginning!

It is our policy to treat minor illness and injury in-house and inform the dog’s person upon pickup. If we are concerned about a dog’s ability to recover well from an injury or illness and can not get in touch with the dog’s family: we leave a message and take the dog to our veterinarian or the closest one open. Please check your phone and voicemail for unknown callers in case staff accidentally call from a personal cell phone. Customers (people) are responsible for all veterinary expenses and will be charged at pickup.

It works best if our customers trust us to make good decisions for their dogs while in our care. If you consider our successful track record over the last 20 years it should give some level of confidence in our excellent care and good decisions. If you wish to be informed in all cases prior to veterinary care, please make sure management is aware of and willing to support your choice. This is a departure from the contract our customers are required to sign. Please remember that, due to the nature of this business, we are frequently distracted by caring for the dogs and may forget an arrangement however we will do our best to honor your special accommodations.

“Intact” refers to male and female dogs who have not been neutered. Neutering applies to either sex though many refer to the surgery to remove female reproductive organs specifically as spaying.

Red Rover requires all customers to work with a licensed veterinarian. We require customers provide proof of vaccination for their dogs with a next due date in the future for: distemper, parvo, rabies, and bordetella.

Red Rover uses the veterinarian’s due date for bordetella and does not require a more frequent schedule as some kennels do. Some vaccinations may be waived with the customer veterinarian’s approval, titers are strongly recommended.

Because we do not allow overcrowding in our facility and prompty separate dogs who seem unwell, the main risk of using a different vaccination schedule is for that dog, not the rest of the dogs. Many vets in our area vaccinate adult dogs for bordetella annually and for distemper, parvo, and rabies every 3 years.

Cyclical reports of canine influenza have resulted in spikes of concern since 2004. Check with your trusted veterinarian to learn more about these viruses and make your own decisions about vaccination and group dog care. Red Rover does not require this vaccination at this time.

Red Rover owners use the vaccination protocol developed by Dr. Jean Dodds, a clinical research veterinarian who conducted studies in canine immunity for several decades.


Cyclical reports of canine influenza have resulted in spikes of concern since 2004. Check with your trusted veterinarian to learn more about these viruses and make your own decisions about vaccination and group dog care. Red Rover does not require this vaccination at this time.


Kennel cough is a common term for Infectious Tracheobronchitis, ITB. ITB is the result of a pathogen infecting a dog’s airways that is contagious to other dogs. It is similar to our common cold and does not cause severe illness in most dogs. It can be a risk, however, for immunocompromised dogs such as puppies, seniors, and those with a condition affecting their immune system. Your vet can tell you more about the level of risk for your dog.


ITB typically caused by viruses and the bordetella bacteria can be part of an infection. Your dog is typically vaccinated for viruses common in the area that cause ITB in a combo vaccine which includes parvo virus and distemper. That is why those vaccines are typically referred to as D*PP+ by your veterinarian.


It is good practice, we believe, to vaccinate your dog for bordetella when they are in an environment where there are other dogs. Another strain causes whopping cough in humans. ITB is not contagious to humans though Heidi is fond of saying she has kennel cough when she has an upper respiratory infection.

    Yes! We support social dog behavior for free for all dogs staying with us. We redirect and reward alternatives to jumping up, barking for human attention, and not rushing through doorways to name a few social dog skills.


Our owner and GM, Heidi Dixner, has been a professional dog trainer for more than 20 years. She started training her first personal dog at age 13 though she had a natural rapport with all animals from birth and was instrumental in training family dogs from age 6. Her great uncle was a professional dog trainer and breeder of Springer Spaniels.


Heidi has been a working member for many years of the APDT, Association of Professional Dog Trainers, the largest and oldest pet dog training organization in the world. Heidi created Red Rover to be a social group, dog care facility supported by utilizing domestic dog behavior. We use the  LIMA philosophy for dog engagement and training. LIMA stands for Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive which Heidi explains is the method she hopes someone of a different species and language will use if they ever have to train her.


Heidi can train your dog but the key is to train you as well. The very best training for a socially successful dog is the training you do with your dog. The dog’s individual and/or family must understand how to introduce new things and distractions to your dog in a way that supports their training. Anything the dog learns in class must be habituated at home and the places you and your dog frequent. Doing things differently than your dog was trained to do them erodes the training over time.

Short answer “no”. That said we may offer baths, nail trims, de-shed treatments, and limited trims for dogs in our night care/boarding.

    Short answer “no”.

    You may be thinking of, the organization called Red Rover Relief that is based in California.

    Red Rover feels strongly about helping pets in need. We typically work with Crossroads Campus and other local rescues, providing 10% of our day & night care space to their fosters and/or poodle rescues.

    Heidi has been involved in Poodle Rescue for 30 years. She tries to alert our customers when she has a new poodle or poodle mix (all size) available for adoption.

Heidi Dixner is our owner and general manager. She is a founder of cage-free care in Nashville TN. VM/text: 615-398-2684 email: