About Us

The Smart Dog Story

Our Mission

We believe that dogs are social beings; we fulfill their desire to interact with humans and other dogs. Our mission is to provide dogs with a safe, happy, and healthy environment they will love going to every day. Our play groups help dogs learn good “dog manners” in a controlled learning environment while exercising their bodies, enriching their spirits, and stimulating their minds.

How it Started

It all started with a little ill-behaved schnauzer named Radar. When we adopted him, we were in love. When he peed on my best friend’s shoe, we were horrified. The solution was training and our search began at a big box pet food store where we were kicked out of two classes due to his incessant barking. (Hey, he had a LOT to say!). So I mentored with a fabulous horse and dog trainer and discovered that I love studying dog behavior and dog training!
About a year later, I decided to leave the rat race of Corporate America and I followed my passion to work with animals. Using my new-found freedom, I set out to get experience in a wide variety of animal services. I started to take on private training clients, I worked as a trainer and lead handler in a two well-known dog daycare and boarding facilities, I was a dog walker and a pet sitter. We also became foster parents for rescue dogs. Over the last few years, my husband and I have fostered many, many dogs (we stopped counting at 130). Each one of these dogs brought their own unique personality, talents, and challenges to our household. We settled with three dogs of our own and then take in fosters as space and personalities allow (usually 2 – 3). Managing a multiple-dog household with a parade of new dogs coming in and out became normal. We train every day because, let’s face it – the number one reason why dogs are turned into shelters is behavior. It is so rewarding to see these dogs shed their baggage and find fabulous homes.

Smart Dog was Born

In June of 2012, we started doing daycare and boarding out of our home informally for training clients and friends. Our business was built by word of mouth alone and we grew by leaps and bounds! It soon became apparent that we had outgrown our house, so we moved into a temporary commercial space and started seriously looking for a permanent location. A year later, we moved into our dream space just outside of Downtown Dallas.

William and I are having the time of our lives in this adventure. Our staff members are like family to us and we are so grateful that dog owners like you let our family take care of your family!

In Memoriam

Portrait by Maya X Kiwi

Zeus was a total fluke and Smart Dog would not be here today without him.  He was abandoned at our friend Laura’s horse farm. Angela contacted over 30 rescues in the area and no one had room for him.  The most memorable response was “he’s going to be hard to adopt out because he’s not very good looking”. I might be a little biased – but Zeus was definitely a handsome boy.  So in 2007, when we bought and moved into our house in Oak Cliff, Zeus found a new home. One night, not fully unpacked from moving in, we went to dinner and put Zeus in a dog crate.  When we got back he had broken out of the crate and destroyed the original 1940’s era wood blinds in every single window. That’s when he got the nickname “YD” which stands for “Your Dog”.

At his next vet visit, Dr Moomaw examined Zeus’s teeth and noticed he had chipped his tooth getting out of the crate.  This was a new chip on top of an old chip, so clearly Zeus’s separation anxiety was not a new trait. In our presence, Zeus was as cool as a cucumber, when we weren’t there it was a different story.  We remember eating out on many dog-friendly patios dressed in jackets and knit hats that winter. It was he that introduced us to the concept of “doggy daycare” because he needed to be with people while Angela and I were at work. We worked hard on his public manners and he grew into his role like he was born for it – shepherding Angela on countless outings.  He even went to nursing homes and hospitals. He wasn’t the most outwardly friendly dog – you had to earn his affection, but he would begrudgingly stand patiently while people petted him from their wheelchairs and walkers.

As we worked our way through helping over 130 foster dogs, Zeus welcomed each and every one into his benevolent dictatorship.  His calm demeanor and leadership just exuded from his pores. In the yard at Smart Dog, he would “part the waters” in the group of dogs – most everyone calmly deferring to him.  He really was The. Best. Dog. Ever. and he is sorely missed.

Meet the Team

Meet the family that loves your family

Let’s face it – dogs are full-fledged members of our families. We are not a “run of the mill” dog facility, so we need more than “run of the mill” employees. Our team members manage to have a unique balance that allows them to have the attention to detail necessary to take excellent care of your family members while retaining their goofy love of all things dog. They fully embrace our learning environment and philosophy. They have been trained to recognize and reward good dog behavior and gently correct undesirable behaviors.

Angela Hildeson a.k.a. Auntie A

Owner, CEO

William Hildeson

CPO: Chief Paperwork Officer

Abel Portillo


Mayra Orozco


Ramiro Cabrera

Assistant Manager

Sandy Phong

Team Lead

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Of course! To be frank, we don’t want a client who doesn’t care where their dog will be spending their time. In addition, a visit will allow you to bring your dog in for their tryout day. Tryout days consist of a temperament test followed by playtime with other dogs. Since we are all social play here, we want to make sure your dog is comfortable at Smart Dog. You will get all the details from our front desk staff when you make your appointment but, in general, you will be asked to arrive between 7am and 11am. Please budget 15 – 20 minutes to get your paperwork straightened out and take a tour. Then, you will leave your pup with us and you can pick them back up between 4 & 6:30pm. Please call us to schedule your tryout day. Please note: Because we require a tryout day in advance, we will not allow your pup to stay overnight on their tryout day.

Yes! We train your dog to be well socialized, play well in a group, and use good dog manners. If you’re looking for something specific like leash obedience or correcting problem behaviors in your house, those issues will require a private lesson or group class.

Our chauffer service is more than door-to-door. It is more like dog bed-to-playtime and is designed to fit your busy schedule. Because you don’t have to be home when our driver arrives, we ask for a key and alarm code (if necessary). As you can imagine, our chauffer service is very popular with our busy clients, so our route is typically full. We have to keep to a strict schedule so that we can make sure everyone gets to their destination in a timely manner. Because our route changes daily, we are unable to pinpoint exactly when our driver will arrive at your house. We do commit to picking up between 8am and 10 am (depending on traffic conditions), and dropping off between 4:30pm and 6:30pm. Our drivers undergo a thorough criminal background and driving record check once a year. We are insured for both home entry and dog transport. Please note that reservations are required 24 hours in advance. Last minute additions or cancellations may result in a higher fee. See your welcome letter for more details.

Yes. We can give pills, liquids, powders, sub-cutaneous injections, etc. We don’t believe in nickel-and-diming our customers to maintain their pet’s health. This is included in our basic price.

Our advice? Travel light. We already have beds, bowls, blankets, crates, and toys. So, send your dog’s food so their tummies stay happy and leave the rest to us! If your dog has allergies of which you are aware, please be sure to let us know!

We require that dogs are current on Rabies, DHPP (Distemper/Parvo), and Bordetella (Kennel Cough). The Bordetella vaccine will be required every 6 months for the sub-cutaneous version, however, the Oral and Intranasal versions are honored for 1 year. Puppies are at accepted at 14 weeks and at least 10 days after their second round of of vaccines. By this point, they should have 2 doses of DHPP and at least one dose of Bordetella. Once an adult dog has a consistent vaccination history for a couple of years, many vets decide to administer Rabies and Distemper/Parvo vaccines on a three-year schedule – this is fine by us. If you use blood-titers, please contact us to discuss.

We can accommodate most special diets including prescription food, raw, homemade, and BARF (Bones and Raw Food) diets. We will keep raw / homemade meals in the freezer until appropriate and thaw them in a safe manner. We feed raw food in a stainless steel bowl as recommended by most experts.

Our daycare packages are designed to give you the best bang for your buck. For example, when you purchase 9 days, you get one free. A 40 day package includes 8 free days. Packages never expire. As your dog attends daycare, each day will be deducted from the package. When you have 2 days left on your package, you will receive an email from us reminding you to buy a new package. Simply reply to the email with your approval and we will process the credit card on file. You may also pay in person if you prefer.

All of our dogs are separated to eat. Not only is it safer for everyone, but also reduces the stress for slow or shy eaters.

We ask that you provide us with their first and last name, as well as a phone number. Please let your designated person know that we will ask for ID before releasing your pet into their care.

In addition to cash or check, we also accept VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express credit cards. If your dog comes to play with us on a regular basis, we highly recommend that you place a credit card on file with us so we can make purchasing new daycare packages easy for you.

Single rides can be purchased on an as-needed basis. Chauffeur services are billed per trip, not per dog, so delivering 3 dogs to the same address is considered one single way ride. When you purchase a daycare package, you will get the option to add on chauffeur services for either single way or round trips.

Yes! We understand that emergencies come up and we will drop everything and come pick up your pet. Please note, however, that the fee for last minute trips is $25 per single way ride.


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Reservation Notice

We request you make a reservation for daycare as well as boarding to ensure we have a safe and manageable number of dogs. Asking at least 24 hours ahead is the best way to guarantee your spot. We understand that last minute needs occur and will do our best to work w/ “day of” reservations. In those situations, there may be a $10 fee assessed.

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