Along with cage-free day care and grooming services, Red Rover shines brightest in the dog training arena. With everything from ESL-K9 (aka, a six-week training class, English as a Second Language for Dogs) to a PupPoise class to help reactive dogs maintain poise and self-assured behavior around other dogs, they've got offerings for beginners and those in need of refreshment. There are more advanced options for those doggies who have mastered the basics, and trainer Heidi Dixner includes unlimited email support with her paid classes in addition to offering extra one-on-ones in your home ($60 per hour) or individual sessions in Red Rover's Nashville location ($20 per 20 minutes). And if your dog wants to learn how to dance, then he's in luck — they now offer freestyle classes to get you started off on the right paw!
Memphis' Shelby Farms is one of the largest urban parks in the US with around 4,500 acres of forest, wetlands, and meadows. With horseback riding, a resident herd of bison, and many other animals that call this park home, there's plenty of nature to observe. In addition to the park's many people-geared features (like picnics and paddleboats), there is a multi-acre off-leash dog park for the pooches! While the park is overseen by the Park Conservancy, the huge Shelby Farms Dog Off-leash area has its own organization to advocate for public education about dog park etiquette and safety along with any maintenance and park improvements to make this place even better for local dogs and dog owners. Located on the northeast part of the map, the off-leash area is mostly fenced (around parking lots and any roads) but, because the grounds are so expansive, it's necessary that any dogs playing here are under voice control at all times – it's not the park for pups that will be too distracted by the scents and sounds of other animals to stay close by.
What's a pet owner to do if they find themselves with a pooch that's allergic to many dog treats and foods and living in a town with no animal specialty shops? Yup, as you probably guessed, long time caterers Pam and Brian Trainor decided to open their own. Knoxville's River Dog Bakery now makes and bakes all treats in the in-store kitchen and started with a simple, crunchy biscuit called Nicholas Nibble Bones safe for their Golden Retriever, Nick. A hit with their pooch and lucky friends and family members, they became inspired to branch out to other treats like Bowser Brownies and Snicker Poodles. All snacks use human-grade ingredients with no additives, preservatives, or artificial colorings or flavors, and come in different flavors, sizes, and textures. The store now includes salmon and tuna treats for kitties, pet products, and their current Golden Retriever, Cooper, who loves to greet shop visitors in addition to being their official taste tester.
Nestled in the Overton Hills, the beautiful sanctuary of Radnor Lake is a great escape in urban Nashville. The 747 acres of land were preserved in 1973 as Tennessee's first natural area and protected ecosystem. The lake area often offers close-up glimpses of herons, turtles, and deer just to name a few — and is a popular spot for nature studies from local university researchers. Because of its important natural habitats, you can hike on the various trails for animal observation, but save those walks with your pup for Otter Creek Road, the only part where pooches are permitted.
Before you even enter Pigeon Forge's amusement mecca, Dollywood, you'll see Doggywood. In addition to kennel runs, Doggywood has four cottages ($30) for pooches to lounge in while you're riding the roller coasters, listening to the music, and seeing the craftsman demonstrations like at the grist mill. Built in 1982, this was the first fully operating grist mill made in Tennessee in more than 100 years. It was created exactly as it would have been back when locals relied on the giant water wheel to grind corn and wheat, but today sells cornmeal alongside its famous cinnamon bread.
Dogs haven't been allowed inside the park since 2002, so the one-of-a-kind indoor care facility is a must-stop for those dog owners who just can't bear to leave Fido that far behind. As an additional bonus, there's a special play area adjacent to the building so you can stop out for a quick walk or frolic before enjoying the rest of your day back inside the park. Like many of the buildings on the property, it's constructed in a rustic Smoky Mountain cabin style — it offers a homey feel with limited space so make those reservations in advance!