Pet Connections

The Dog Stop: Pittsburgh Bred, Nationally Spread

After years spent working out of state, Jesse Coslov returned to Pittsburgh with his dog, Miles, only to find his hometown lacking in the realm of superior pet care. As an avid dog-lover, owner, and dedicated shelter volunteer, Jesse knew the quality of care Pittsburgh pups deserved, and he believed that with the right help he’d be able to offer services currently unparalleled in the dog care industry. He reached out to longtime friend and fellow Shadyside Academy graduate, Chris Kane. Tired of the corporate grind and excited by the prospect of working with dogs on a daily basis, Chris jumped at the opportunity to join Jesse in this venture.  Cue the birth of The Dog Stop®. 

They started investigating the competition. It quickly became apparent that Pittsburgh was lacking a one-stop shop as many businesses offered only grooming and retail or just day care and boarding. They took these four services and began consulting experts and performing their own research to decide how to offer options in a way that surpassed the standards set by their rivals. From spacious, climate-controlled play areas to dog-safe vinyl fencing and puppy turf, their first facility brought cutting-edge design to the forefront of dog care. After a couple of months of working with the dogs, the guys realized that separating by size (as was the standard in this field of pet care) wasn’t enough. Just because five dogs are the same size doesn’t mean they play in the same ways; so in addition to separating the pack by weight, different day care groups emerged based on play styles. In an effort to ensure all staff was familiar with different play styles and dog behaviors, they began training all staff via the American Association of Canine Pack Handlers standards (which includes a lengthy dog care handbook, the passing of an in-depth canine care exam, and shadowing of senior staff members). 

Blessed with a fantastically supportive and expert staff, their newly assembled team debated on how to next grow the company. They’d already made a commitment to provide clean, safe, and fun environments for dogs of all sizes to play and stay, but now it was time to take it a step further and service dogs in a way that honored their individuality. They looked at their own dogs for inspiration on how to tailor every client’s The Dog Stop® experience to fit his or her dog’s needs and personal preferences. 

While many pups enjoy day care and boarding, some dogs find it impossible to thrive during changes in their routines. As a result, this stress prevents dogs from enjoying their boarding experiences. From cuddle time on the couch to leash walks around the neighborhood to a pup’s favorite snack before bedtime, The Dog Stop Delights program allowed The Dog Stop® team the opportunity to customize every dog’s stay in a way that more closely mimicked home routines and prevented their clients from experiencing kennel blues. They also realized that some dogs, no matter how many in-store services they’re offered, just do better when they stay in their own familiar environments, so they began offering in-home services. In-home boarding and leash walking tapped into a whole new vein of dog care, and clients and dogs alike rejoiced in an option more fitting for their personal needs. And speaking of personal needs, as The Dog Stop’s retail business grew, requests poured in for healthier options, so the team called upon distributors and representatives and delved into their own research to construct an inventory focused on healthy, all-natural, highly rated foods, treats, and toys.  Now dogs with dietary restrictions and parents focused on natural food with no fillers could conveniently grab their dogs’ foods or special treats while picking their pups up from day care. In an effort to further celebrate each dog’s uniqueness in a more literal way, staff also began throwing birthday parties for their clients by teaming up with locally owned Doggie Delights Bakery, who provides all natural, dog-safe personalized birthday cakes for sharing with friends at day care and take-home cupcakes for later. 

As business continued to grow and thrive, Jesse and Chris never lost sight of their passion for helping dogs in need, and as more facilities opened in different areas of town, the scope of animal charities they had the ability to help only broadened. Each of their stores works closely with local rescue groups, such as the Animal Rescue League, Animal Friends, and Animal Advocates, to raise funds, supplies, and awareness for adoptable dogs in the area. They even donate kennel space and food to house foster dogs onsite for rescue groups, and utilize their newsletter and social media posts to find these deserving dogs their forever homes. Each month, dozens of local charities (many of them not even dog-related) reach out to The Dog Stop® for donation baskets full of high-end retail items and gift certificates for free services to be raffled off in hopes of benefiting everything from a high school’s football team to a sick child’s medical bills. 

Jesse and Chris knew they’d founded something really special, so in 2013 they began selling The Dog Stop® franchises. Now dogs close to home (Sewickley, Monroeville, and Wexford) and as far away as Delaware and Louisiana (with more to come) benefit from Jesse and Chris’ vision: to honor each dog that walks through The Dog Stop’s front doors, and to treat clients like family. 

For further details on The Dog Stop’s history, services, or for franchise information, please visit thedogstop.net.

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