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Meet the Owner: Joyce Keeton of The Dog Spot

It was all about location, location, location -- and "peacefulness" -- when Joyce Keeton set up The Dog Spot on Glenn Club Drive.

Certified Canine Behavior Counselor and dog trainer Joyce Keeton opened The Dog Spot at 1975 Glenn Club Drive in Stone Mountain in March, the second location for the business which provides dog and cat boarding, doggie playcare, professional grooming, full-serve baths, and group and private training. She first started The Dog Spot in Loganville.

Keeton recently took some time to discuss her business with Patch:

Patch: Why did you decide to open The Dog Spot - first in Loganville, then in Stone Mountain?

Joyce Keeton: I moved to GA to start a new dog training business in 2008.  My family lived here and I wanted to be closer to them so this sounded like the way to go for me.  As my training business grew, I started noticing a consistent problem with access to doggie daycare for socialization in the Loganville area.  I kept telling my clients to take their dogs to doggie daycare but there weren't any close by.  The dog parks were ok but could be dangerous so people were hesitant to commit to that.  I waited for 3 years for someone else to open a pet hotel that offered doggie daycare but no one did so I decided to do it myself.  The Dog Spot - Loganville was born in October, 2009.  It has been a huge success and we receive immense support from the local community for which we are extremely grateful.

As far as Stone Mountain, I had been thinking about opening a second location for about 2 years once I saw how well Loganville was doing. Dr. Michele Tilghman of Loving Touch Animal Center approached me regarding her facility in Stone Mountain.  She had operated a kennel for many years at her practice but was interested in having a "professional" come in and build a boarding business there that would offer enhanced services. I met Dr. Tilghman when one of my bulldogs had a back injury. She helped him walk again using accupuncture and chiropractic care when my traditional veterinarian didn't think would be possible without very expensive surgery. Her facility is 5500 sq. ft of amazing space tucked in the woods right off of Hwy 78, 1 mile outside of the main entrance to Stone Mountain Park.  There is a memory garden on the property as well as a meditation pond filled with goldfish and beautiful plants.  Our entrance overlooks this beautiful site. I fell in love with the property and the facility immediately. I decided to open The Dog Spot (and cats) Too! at this location where we now offer dog and cat boarding, grooming, and training. We hope to add on doggie daycare soon but we have to fence in and build out a play yard first. Hopefully that will happen by spring, 2013.

Patch: How did you choose the Stone Mountain location for The Dog Spot?

Keeton: Location, location, location, beauty, and peacefulness. The Dog Spot Stone Mountain location has all of these.  When you first enter the property you see the beautiful woods with all the large shade trees, beautiful flowering bushes, and rolling green grass.  As you get out of your car and walk up to the entrance, you can't miss the beautiful meditation pond and garden.  I don't know how anyone goes into the building without first taking some time to enjoy the peace and serenity of this beautiful sight.  When you come into our building and walk through the kennel, it's an amazing facility.  The suites for the dogs are large, secure, and clean.  The outside suite area looks out into the woods and is shaded from the hot summer sun so they stay cool year round.  The feeling of peacefulness I get from this location was my biggest draw.

Patch: How has the reception been to the Stone Mountain facility so far?

Keeton: Change is difficult.  Many of the clients were skeptical at first because they were used to Loving Touch and the staff they had.  When I came in with my staff, I think in unnerved the regulars a bit but as they have used us, we have received nothing but compliments.  New clients are contantly amazed at how beautiful the facility is and I love watching them walk through with their mouths open  saying "wow!" Being tucked away off the main road has it's advantages and disadvantages. Of course the peace, quiet and beauty we have due to being tucked back a bit is awesome for the dogs and provides us with a lot of tranquility which is a huge advantage. The biggest disadvantage is that we're not easy to see.  When people find us, they almost always say "I had no idea there was anything back here."  But they are happy they found us.

Patch: What have been some challenges in opening a new location?

Keeton: Time. There are only 24 hours in a day and starting a new business takes a lot of time. The biggest challenge I am having is finding the time to market my new business while maintaining my existing business.  I have such an amazing staff and they have kicked things into overdrive to help me out.  Operating a small business is like having a second family. My The Dog Spot family is supportive, caring, and dedicated.  Without them, I would not have been able to consider opening the Stone Mountain location.  Patience is also a challenge for me.  I want the Stone Mountain location to be as far along as the Loganville location is. I have to keep remembering how things were when I first opened Loganville and that as time goes by, we will get there. I am an optimistic person who tends to think positively about things. I believe that our thoughts dictate the direction of our lives so I feel confident that the Stone Mountain location will be just as successful as the Loganville location.

Patch: What are some of your future goals for The Dog Spot?

Keeton: We have a lot of exciting stuff going on.  One of my main goals is to make The Dog Spot "the" place to bring your dog for training. I think positive reinforcement trainers are slowly winning the war against compulsion training which uses force and painful techniques with dogs. We still have a long way to go but I want to spread the word, one dog at a time, that clicker training and positive reinforcement are the most effective and safest techniques to use with our companions. I want to start bringing in other trainers who share my same philosiphy and who either already have a higher education in dog behavior or want to obtain that to offer more options in training. I want The Dog Spot to be the place that people come to when they are experiencing difficult dog behaviors such as aggression, fears, phobias, out of context behaviors, and more.  I want people to know that there is help and that their dog's behavior can be changed for the better. Too many dogs are given up and euthanized due to behavior problems that can be addressed and affected positively.

Along that line, I would like to start holding seminars and events at The Dog Spot so the community can learn more about their dogs and have more activities to participate in with their fuzzy friends.

We are also going to be adding suites to our Loganville location.  Right now, the dogs that come and stay with us sleep in crates but we are going to add the option of private suites for a more luxurious boarding experience. The suites will mimic little bedrooms and have all the comforts of home.

The Dog Spot-Stone Mountain is located at 1975 Glenn Club Dr. It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-noon, 3-5:30 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. - noon; Sunday, noon & 5 pm (pick-ups only). The phone number is 678-246-7900.

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