Aug 6, 2023 - Things to Do

D.C.'s doggie-conomy is booming

Georgie at the Fairmont (left) and puppucinos at Dacha

Georgie in spaw mode at the Fairmont (left) and summer puppucinos at Dacha. Photo courtesy of the Fairmont; Dacha.

Fancy mutt menus at restaurants. Doggie yoga classes. "Pool pawties."

  • And coming soon, the area's first indoor dog bar.

What's happening: D.C.'s dog-leisure economy is booming, with more ways than ever for humans to hang with (and drop cash on) their fur-friends.

Why it matters: Dog adoptions increased sharply after COVID hit — as did the number of businesses and services catering to pets and their owners, many of whom became uniquely bonded in the pandemic.

What they're saying: "Even though adoption rates have leveled out, you still have a huge influx of dogs that have arrived in the city, and people looking to spend time with them in fun ways," says Alexis Canty, general manager of District Dogs.

  • While the daycare/boarding company started nearly a decade ago, it expanded during the pandemic to include seven locations and a full roster of canine extracurriculars like BarkFit yoga ($15 a pop).
  • The weekly "Pool Pawties" have doggie cabanas and "house music playing for hotel pool party vibes," says Canty. "Yes, it's for the dogs, but it's also for the humans. We try to make it as fun and Instagrammable as possible." (That'll be $20 for the Eucalyptus-scented towels.)
Fairmont DC's fancy puppy menu
The Fairmont's VIP (Very Important Puppy) menu. Photo courtesy of the Fairmont

The latest: Snouts & Stouts, the area's first indoor dog bar and club, opens in Arlington this month near the beloved Shirlington dog park.

  • Humans can expect Portuguese and American fare (all dog-safe), a temperature controlled park with safety-trained staff, and a high-tech air filtering system to combat doggy smells (annual membership: $365). Day passes start at $10.
  • Meanwhile, the District's first dog bar, Dog Daze Social Club, is coming to Logan Circle this fall.
Dogs hit the bar at Dacha. Photo courtesy of Dacha

Zoom in: Four-legged customers can be good for the bottom line at human-focused businesses.

  • Pets don't just encourage patronage, but can result in a few more rounds, Dacha's spokesperson Brendan Kownacki tells me: "Our dog owners tend to favor longer visits, since they don't have to rush off to feed or walk their pups."
  • The beer gardens in Shaw and Navy Yard whip up homemade "puppucinos" ($3) and pour dog-safe "beer" ($7) for the #DogsOfDacha.
  • They've hosted a record number of dog events this year, from a Muttminster Dog Show to a pre-game for the Nationals' "Pups in the Park," which brings around 3,000 fur-fans yearly to the stadium (next up: August 16 and September 23).

Yes, but: It's not all casual Crotch Sniffin' Ales. The upscale Fairmont in the West End just launched a V.I.P (Very Important Puppy) menu in their pet-friendly courtyard on Tuesdays. Picture: $18 steak bowls and $12 Pawgaritas — essentially chicken broth-tinis with "a kibble rim."

  • I'm told that Georgie, the hotel's service dog, taste-tested everything (four paws up 👍).
The Nationals' Pups at the Park
Fur-fans at Nationals Park. Photo courtesy of Valerie Krebs

Context: You might think that's bougie, but there's a nationwide trend in upscale dog-straunts like San Francisco's Dogue serving $75 tasting menus for discerning dachshunds.

Flashback: D.C. is historically dog-friendly thanks to George Washington himself, who had tons of dogs with amusing names (Tipsy and Mopesy and Truelove, oh my!). Mount Vernon still welcomes pups on its grounds.

The bottom line: "DC is unique in that you can kinda bring your dog anywhere," says Canty, at District Dog. "They help us bridge the gap and make connections. It's important, especially in a city post-COVID, when it's still kinda lonely."


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