How Tel Aviv's doggy daycare became Israel's most in demand 'educational academy'

Lior Gibenberg, former officer from IDF's canine unit, is a seasoned dog trainer who uses his skills to train hundreds of pups in 'Dogotel' - including a play room with a library and a 'poodle room' spa

Lior Ohana|
Each morning at 8am, dog owners arrive at the doors of the Dogotel in Tel Aviv, and kiss their furry friends goodbye as they depart for a day at "school."
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  • The owner of this doggy daycare is Lior Gibenberg - a 34-year-old professional dog trainer who served in the IDF's canine unit, known as Oketz (“Sting” in Hebrew).
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    יום שגרתי ב-Dogotel, בית הספר לכלבים
    יום שגרתי ב-Dogotel, בית הספר לכלבים
    Dogotel
    (Photo: Shaul Golan)
    Like any other schoolteacher, dog trainer Chen Roimi starts each day by greeting the pups and taking attendance, after which the pack goes for a walk in the urban neighborhood.
    "Each one of us takes four to five dogs, and we walk them in the dog park," Gibenberg said, explaining their routine.
    "Dogs for which this is not suited, such as puppies, are taken on walks separately. They have their own daily routine and they are familiar with it. After the dog park, where they take out tons of energy, they come back exhausted and pass out for their midday nap."
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    פינוק בספא של Dogotel, בית הספר לכלבים
    פינוק בספא של Dogotel, בית הספר לכלבים
    Dogotel
    (Photo: Shaul Golan)
    The school is split up into three parts: an area designated for the especially frisky dogs that are constantly running and jumping, an area for puppies, and an area for the elderly - or simply sluggish - dogs. There is also a play space (with a library) for the dogs to exhaust more energy, and a space called "the poodle room," where the pups come for cosmetic treatments.
    "There are several dogs that we take for physical and mental exercises, where they practice following orders, doing obstacle courses, and ignoring food," Gibenberg continued.
    "Sharpening discipline strengthens the dog's communication with us. It is important that the dogs aren't only spoiled, but the boundaries are drawn as well. This is a school and we educate the dogs, thus it's important that there is mental practice in addition to runs in the park, which only exhaust them physically."
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    יום שגרתי ב-Dogotel, בית הספר לכלבים
    יום שגרתי ב-Dogotel, בית הספר לכלבים
    Dogotel
    (Photo: Shaul Golan)
    "They don't just play, rather they come here to learn and grow. The demand has really grown in the last few months. We are at a point in which people are very satisfied, recommend to one another, and when there is someone with a lot of followers whose dog is here - that really boosts the demand."
    One of Gibenberg's students, a poodle, belongs to the Israeli celebrity and TV host Rotem Sela.
    Not just any dog can get accepted into the Dogotel academy, said the owner. "There are suitability tests and not everyone passes.
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    ליאור אוחנה ב-Dogotel, בית הספר לכלבים
    ליאור אוחנה ב-Dogotel, בית הספר לכלבים
    Dogotel
    (Photo: Shaul Golan)
    "If we see that the dog is friendly, doesn't expose teeth, doesn't jump from stress, then he gets accepted. We don't take risks."
    The idea to establish a school for dogs was inspired by Gibenberg's desire to provide the animals with a designated place to exert energy, what he learned from his academic and professional experience was key to maintaining a well-behaved and happy pet.
    5 View gallery
    יום שגרתי ב-Dogotel, בית הספר לכלבים
    יום שגרתי ב-Dogotel, בית הספר לכלבים
    Dogotel
    (Photo: Shaul Golan)
    When he first opened Dogotel, only five or six dogs would come in a day.
    With time, his business grew, and now has more than 100 customers.
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