LOWER EAST SIDE — A Lower East Side native who studied under "Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan will open a chic new dog training facility in September, complete with doggy treadmills and a puppy pool.
Owner Blake Rodriguez plans to open Dream Come True K9 at 174 Attorney St., just a few blocks from where he grew on up Grand Street. Dream Come True will help both the pets and their owners communicate more effectively so that the dogs are better behaved, he said.
“So many people love their dogs, but so many people don’t understand their dogs,” said Rodriguez, who has also trained with dog behaviorists Cheri Lucas and Brian Agnew.
Rodriguez took over the storefront in June after starting the business in 2010. He started by walking dogs and making house calls before training dogs in his Lower East Side apartment. Demand for his services had grown, he said, but the lack of space meant he couldn’t work with more than four dogs at a time.
In the new 2,000-square-foot space, Rodriguez can accommodate up to 11 dogs, but will be able to accommodate up to 17 dogs in the future once new trainers start work in about three to six months.
The facility includes ground-level space where dogs can relax, socialize and train, as well as a downstairs area that includes treadmills and crates where dogs can sleep. Rodriguez also hopes to add a pool in the outdoor backyard area next summer.
Rodriguez uses a variety of methods to help dogs overcome unwanted behaviors like separation anxiety, aggression, leash pulling and excessive barking, he said. For example, using the treadmill can help dogs focus on what's ahead of them and not be distracted by things like food, trash or other dogs.
“They don’t know about the world out here,” he said. “It’s our job to teach them about it.”
Many of his clients come to him after repeated attempts to change their dogs’ behaviors, he said, but the facility will also take in dogs that have less severe behavioral issues.
For now, the center is only open to clients who are receiving private instruction, as well as dogs undergoing a more in-depth training program that requires them to board at the facility.
When it opens to the public in September, however, it will also offer group classes, indoor treadmills that dogs can use during inclement weather and hour-long “pack socialization” sessions, which are similar to hanging out at a dog park, but with canines and owners who have gone through the same training methods, Rodriguez said.
The group classes start at $500 for a five-day course while the socialization sessions will be $30 an hour. Indoor treadmill sessions and dog walking services will be $30 for an hour and $20 for a half-hour, he said.
Rodriguez said he enjoys training dogs and is happy to be able to set up shop in the neighborhood where he grew up.
“It’s great to be able to show that you can have a well-behaved dog regardless of the breed," he said.