Owners of No Leash Needed dog facility in Valley Park believe in unleashing the best in man's best companion.
They opened a second location in December at 9330 Manchester Road near Interstate 44 and Missouri Route 141, and now offer day care, boarding, agility and customized training. In addition, customers can buy treats, dog food, Kongs, herbs, breath mints, treat totes, healthy dog beds, car safe dog seats, Jolly balls—and even leashes!
Co-owner Shannon Mayfield started as a mobile dog trainer five years ago. She partnered with a finance-oriented animal lover, Devika Christie, to launch a prior dog facility in Rock Hill near Manchester and McKnight roads on Jan. 1, 2010. They had many requests from potential farther west customers, so decided to open a location closer to west St. Louis County. They found a large property, which has plenty of indoor and outdoor space. The building formerly housed The Gathering Ground, a trading cards for online games business.
Mayfield said part of the success and satisfaction that comes from No Leash Needed is that it will only take on about 30 dogs at any given time.
It has an agility room, and lots of outdoor space to split dog groups into small and large ones, she said.
"When a dog is here for the first time, we test them with one other dog to see how they do. Then we'll test them with two, then three," said Mayfield.
"If a dog is OK around three other dogs, they will be OK in the larger pack."
Mayfield said they have at least one human caretaker for every 15 dogs. "When we know we're going to have 20 to 22 dogs for a particular group, we staff at least two trainers."
She said sometimes they divide classes and dog groups into mini, small and large.
All indoor spaces have rubber floors, and the dogs are on astroturf when outside.
When Eureka resident Nicole Hempel dropped off her Schnauzer, Ada, for the first time when Patch was there, Hempel asked about individual play time and Ada being around other male dogs because the plans were to eventually breed her. Hempel was reassured that caretakers monitor and watch the dogs, and that the dogs often don't have much energy left over from playtime that occurs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Christie said she and Mayfield were introduced by a mutual friend. Mayfield originally is from Staunton, IL, but now both she and Mayfield live in the Manchester area.
Christie said new dogs go through an evaluation to determine if they should be in a group or solo class. During the day Patch was at No Leash, Nancy Manuel from Ballwin was there with her two dogs to be evaluated.
"We watch how owners interact with their dogs, and work on those relationships and bond-building," said Christie.
She said they also offer in-home and private lessons.
Other services at No Leash include boarding, baths and brushes. "We carry what we use ourselves as products. We spend money on things that makes this a safer and less stressful environment," said Christie.
Christie said they assist with training many rescue dogs who have separation anxiety. "Rescues can make the best pets, but those who adopt them don't know what they're getting in to. We help them all get to the type of life dogs deserve."
While Christie said No Leash was fondly known as "the Goldendoodle place" at one time, she said all kinds of dogs seem to have fun at the one-shop-stop facility.