According to Buffalo Grove Countryside, Candy Oppman trained her first dog when she was only 9 years old. Like many people, she grew up and started a family—only her family turned out to be a combination of kids and rescue dogs. After founding her own pet-sitting business, Candy went on to learn about training and animal behavior. These skills would prove useful for her next endeavor: Bark University, Inc.
Inside Bark University's 3,500-square-foot facility, trainers rear canines through a method called "pack leadership"; or as Candy puts it, "training them as a mother dog trains her puppies, in a language they understand." The full-service facility is also open to daycare, where supervised dogs can frolic along the 5,000-square-foot fenced backyard and in the rubber-matted playroom in groups separated by size, temperament, and playing style. They round out their services with grooming sessions and overnight stays—wherein a staffer remains on premises to keep pets safe and see if they start to talk.
Due to their curious nature, dogs often come home dirty, whether from chasing squirrels through muddy fields or disassembling your car's transmission. Community Bark Dog Wash & Coffee Bar's dual locations provide specially designed stations for washing dogs of all sizes, whether for self-service sudsing or full-service washing by friendly groomers. The cleaners furnish all the tools needed to groom pups to perfection, including shampoos, conditioners, brushes, combs, and high-velocity hair dryers.
Whether returning from a walk or waiting for their pooch to dry, pet lovers can hang out in the dog-friendly Barker Lounge, where they can sip Alterra coffee and munch on pastries. The café also supplies treats for canine customers and free WiFi service for laptops and bark-activated phones.
On Howell Avenue sits a school where students never want to leave. Pet University's head trainer Dennis Trzcinski has more than 20 years of experience in canine training, including teaching service and police dogs. Dogs move through carefully structured curricula, and upon completion, should be such well-behaved family members that they'll have earned a no-holds-barred graduation trip to Cancun. The trained staff also engages dogs in stimulating activities during daycare and boarding stays.
Different from the average pet-boarding facility, Paradise 4 Paws has a bone-shaped pool surrounded by more than 20,000 square feet of indoor play area, plush accommodations, and comfy boarding suites. Staff members roam the facility 24/7, playing with animals during the day, tucking them in at night, and performing à la carte services such as grooming, obedience training, health checkups, and canine massage therapy. Cats can lounge in a bungalow complete with cat perches, views of an aquarium, and access to climbing trees in the facility’s Adventure Jungle. Paradise 4 Paws has its own training academy, and its pet-care professionals have received pet-first-aid certification from the American Red Cross.
The pet-minded staff cares about pet owners, as well, granting access to the play area’s real-time webcams and offering airport parking and transportation.
The Dog Lounge is a one-stop shop for man’s best friend. In addition to grooming, the pooch-friendly salon also provides doggy daycare and dog-walking services, sells natural pet-care products, and hosts obedience training with experienced trainer Maria Betlinski.