Finding a pet sitter or dog boarding can often be a process.
The people behind Yardstick, a boutique hotel for dogs in Nashville, want to change that once the business opens Dec. 15. They hope the hotel will be a game-changer in the world of canine hospitality by introducing a luxury, stress-free boarding house for everyone. Music City puppies.
“It became very clear that Nashville would be the perfect place to start,” said Dave Atkins, co-founder and CEO of Yardstick. “Anyone who owns a dog would always tell the same story that it was very difficult to get into boarding or daycare, with long waiting lists. We started looking at some of the existing lists. We just thought we could probably put in something a little different, something a little higher, a higher level of care We just felt like there was an unmet need in the city .
Yardstick, at 2605 Grissom Dr. in Berry Hill, offers three service options: overnight for boarding, day for small-group childcare, and bath time.
The day play rooms are divided into three sections, designated by the size of the dog. Padded flooring specially designed for dogs, which is gentle on dogs’ paws and joints, has been installed, with easy access to outdoor courtyards. Bathing options are extended to day and night guests and include bathing and brushing treatments, dental chews, nail and ear care.
Local veterinary partnerships for emergency care have also been established.
Nightly service at Yardstick, referred to by Atkins as its bread and butter, is amplified with purpose-built suites with in-space air quality controls.
“We pay a lot of attention to acoustics and making sure the dogs have enough room, so they have a really quiet sleeping environment. That’s a big part of that,” Atkins said. “Then it’s really about not being afraid to invest in the space and really turning it into something beautiful.”
The lobby of the Yardstick mirrors that of a hotel or restaurant. There are a few lounges with sofas, off the lobby, where parents can relax and watch the playrooms pick up their dogs. Nashville-based design teams including Mesa, Bark & Burl Woodworks, Fortify Signage, and DWC Construction were instrumental in building the vision for New York-based architectural design firm Bolt Design Group.
It’s not uncommon for dog daycares to have groups of 30 or 40 people, but that’s not the case for Yardstick. Atkins cites increased stress levels and a higher risk of incidents occurring in larger facilities as the reason for lower Yardstick numbers.
“Dogs will never be in a group larger than 12 dogs, which I would say is very unique,” Atkins said. “Boutique is a big word. It’s intentionally saying that we only serve a smaller number of dogs at any given time, so we have fewer suites.”
Fit tests and visits will be arranged before dogs can stay at the facility, but all dogs are welcome.
“If you look at a typical boarding menu, they have a lot of different room levels, and you might have to pay extra to walk your dog or get a belly rub. Our opinion was that we’d just rather be a premium product, make it simple for parents, and offer one price,” Atkins said.
Rates at the Yardstick start at $80 per night. The company is working with a direct technology partner to pilot a new reservation system, in which the payment flow resembles a hotel reservation experience. Users can enter their dates and check availability before booking.
While a dog is staying, video feeds will not be available. But, because the company believes in transparency, dog parents will receive text updates with photos and videos of their dogs throughout the day. And night staff will be present to provide supervision. “We’re not isolated in Nashville,” Atkins said. “We see a ton of opportunity to make Yardstick a household name and a solution for Nashville parents when they travel.”
Yardstick’s first Berry Hill location is scheduled to open just before the holidays, but Atkins said a second location is already in the works.
“We’re aiming to open before summer 2023 in West Nashville, just a bit beyond the Sylvan Park area on Charlotte Pike,” he said. “So stay tuned.”