Nashville's original social dog place to play & stay!
Lobby hours are specific. Arrival outside these hours does not guarantee service because staff may be busy or offsite.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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:
Some vaccines may be waived with a current titer. Ask management for more information.
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 cage walls.
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. Many dogs stress bark when they’re lonely and afraid in isolation. We work diligently and use our experience to help dogs feel safe, more relaxed, and included.
We do 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.
*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.
**On weekends dogs experience longer down time mid-day and staff are allowed to leave the building for a break. When staff are not on-site during the day, dogs are separated by family and not in group with other dogs.
Between 7 AM and 7 PM, when the lobby is closed, we are focusing on your dogs. Red Rover customers (dogs) engage in two up-to 1 hour supervised play sessions in/outside, weather and dog determined, with a larger group of dogs 365 days a year. These supervised larger groups allow the dogs to play in different areas with more dogs and help us make better, smaller groups inside to continue play or rest.
In between large group times dogs are in those smaller groups while staff remain onsite cleaning, grooming, and spending time engaging with dog groups and individuals. We do not employee lobby personnel because our focus is on dog behavior. Training the whole team for behavior makes our care specialized and a little less expensive.
Arriving outside of dropoff and pickup hours interrupts our job of caring for your dogs and the flow of our work. Interruptions may lead to mistakes and increase the risk of team burnout. The early/late pickup fee is high it is strongly discouraged for the reasons above.
If you have an emergency, you may arrive and ring the bell. During weekends and holidays staff may be offsite and phones do not ring so we may not be able to respond immediately to your arrival.
On occasion you may make advance arrangements with management to pickup your dog outside of regular hours between 7 AM and 7 PM. Doing so on a regular basis is rarely accepted and typically with a high fee attached. That said, dropoff/pickup up to 1/2 hour outside 7 AM/PM may be arranged with the use of a special code for very responsible customers and with an additional fee.
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 in our care are more comfortable when they are not isolated, no matter how fancy the isolation area is. Many TVs used to “keep dogs company” have a mechanical whine just outside typical human hearing that can aggravate an already uncomfortable environment. Nonstop stress barking seems upsetting to 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 can make educated decisions about which dogs sleep better with other dogs in their 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 protocol storms.
Finally a team member is onsite with the dogs at night in case of emergency. Hopefully they’re so comfortable they’re sleeping too!
There are no lobby hours on the busiest holidays so we can focus on caring for the dogs and everyone can get a break from the door. Dropoff and pickup are not available: July 4th, Thanksgiving day, and December 25th.
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:
We are dedicated to keeping you connected to your dog and understand you miss them while you’re away. Technology can be difficult to keep working right. If webcams are down or you don’t see your dog on camera, please call 615-227-7709 or contact Heidi using the info at the bottom of this FAQ.
We always know who your dog is and can update you on their stay. We can send you videos, pictures, and even FaceTime or Zoom with your dog so you can feel comfortable seeing their face! That said, please use discretion. Too much time spent updating you on every moment of your dog’s stay takes away time for the care of all the dogs at Red Rover. Our phones do not ring after hours so leave a message. FYI the webcams have never been available between 7 PM and 7 AM and some rooms are never broadcasted for the safety of our team.
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 large space with less than 50% of the dogs other daycares do. Heidi believes when you have over a “magic” number in the space, day & night 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 a large number of 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 heat. Please 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:
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.
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:
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!
On weekends and holidays we provide daycare only for our boarding guests at this time. Between 7 AM and 7 PM Red Rover customers (the dogs) engage in up to one hour supervised play in/outside with a larger group of dogs twice a day, 365 days a year. On weekends and holidays dogs may be separated by family and allowed to rest around daycare playtimes so staff may take breaks off site.
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 including Nashville Veterinary Specialists aka NVS. 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 required 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 while at daycare for free. We redirect and reward alternatives to jumping up, barking for human attention, and not rushing through doorways to name a few social dog tricks.
Red Rover daycare is a great way to train puppies. We start the littlest puppies with our small dog group and move them up as they grow and gain confidence. We work diligently to ensure puppies have confidence building experiences and the most social adult dog guides as early playmates. No-one trains a puppy better than an adult dog who is a good leader! We can even help with house training schedules and crate training onsite for a fee. Puppies under 6 months must have at least 2 rounds of scheduled distemper/parvo vaccines and be vaccinated for bordetella to attend.
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.
At this time we do not offer group training classes.
Heidi believes that dog board-and-train programs are ridiculously expensive and rarely successful because you are a big part of ongoing training. Therefore she does not offer boot camps or board-and-train however if she can ever figure out how to do it a better way for you and your dog, she will.
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. Though currently on hiatus from training, she enjoys giving free tips and sharing tried and true dog training methods. Occasionally you can talk her into taking on a new one-on-one client though visits must take place at Red Rover in our staff/training area.
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 she has 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.
For more information on Heidi’s training, visit her website Willow Dog Wisdom.
Short answer “no”. That said we do offer baths, nail trims, de-shed treatments, and limited trims for dogs already in our care for day &/or night care
Short answer “no”.
You may be thinking of RedRover.org, 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: redroverHeidi@gmail.com
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