If you live in North Denver, chances are you have seen the “Happy Highlander Mobile,” a hybrid vehicle equipped with safety gates and harness clips, oftentimes filled with eager dogs heading to the mountains. The vehicle belongs to Happy Dog Adventures, a small business dedicated to taking dogs off-leash hiking.
Owner Anya Jane conceptualized Happy Dog Adventures in 2018 after decades of experience working with dogs. Jane, a graduate of Bel-Rae Institute of Animal Technology and former doggie daycare manager, got her first dog at 22-years-old: a german shepherd named Sam. “She became my best friend and we did everything together… I just had such a profound love for her that it started piquing my interest in dogs in general.”
Jane initially built a clientele doing traditional dog walking through Rover, however, she found much more fulfillment in taking dogs off-leash hiking. Soon, she started gauging people’s interest in what she was calling “a new breed of dog walking.”
This new method of dog walking involved ditching leashes entirely. As such, Jane mastered the art of ‘recall’ training–teaching a dog to come when called for. “The first thing I do right out of the gate is teach them recall… it’s pretty amazing if you have the right treats how quickly they will respond to that.” In addition to tasty treats, Jane asserts the dogs learn quickly not to stray because of the bonds they form within their pack.
Jane instituted a three-step vetting process in order to ensure Happy Dog Adventures is a good fit for the dog, the owner, and the small business. First, prospective dog parents will have a phone intake. Next, a meet and greet. Lastly, Jane will take the pup on a trial adventure where she will have the dog on a 15-foot-long leash before she determines whether the dog will stay with the pack once off-leash.
This month, she is closing on a 50-acre plot of land near Bailey, Colorado complete with several trails, wide open space, and a stream. Her goal is to begin taking her packs up to the land for adventures as soon as possible, including (hopefully) the day after she closes on the property. Jane plans to make the land accessible for clients interested in bringing their dogs off-leash hiking on the weekends and is even toying with the possibility of allowing clients to camp on the property.
As a longtime entrepreneur, Jane appreciates the flexibility and creativity her small business allows her. When asked to speak about her experience as a small business owner in Denver, Jane gushed, “I absolutely love the kind of support that is here, especially in the Northwest Denver community.”
A major part of Jane’s support base is her clients. Per the Happy Dog Adventures website, clients report they notice increased confidence and better listening skills in their dogs. Busy dog owners also describe feeling less guilt knowing their pup is being well taken care of. “They love that their dog is tired at the end of the day.”
Happy Dog Adventures has two pricing options: a drop-in rate and a monthly rate. For drop ins, clients pay $75 a session. For once-a-week adventures, clients pay $65 per adventure (the rate drops even further for multiple times a week). Each additional dog per household gets a 10% discount. Jane highly encourages the weekly commitment, as the dogs get to know one another. “What I’ve found with the packs is that consistency creates the most benefit for everybody.”
Follow the pup adventures on Instagram @happydogadventuresllc or join the pack at www.happydogcolorado.com.