So… I thought I’d start with how I spent the past 7 years… I started a dog daycare in Madison in 2004, when there were only 2 other daycares in the area – Dane County even! Since then the daycare business has grown like the crazy! Just off the top of my head there are 12 or 13 within a 15 mile radius of Madison… Wow! How fantastic that people love their dogs so much that they will spend their hard-earned money to allow their dogs to have a fun, social day. Coming home tired when you’re done with work doesn’t hurt either! They say the pet business is recession-free. I’m not sure if that is entirely true, but I can say it was for the daycare. I think we had some really wonderful clients that cared for their dogs like family. Not allowing them the outlet of proper exercise and socialization was not an option!
When I started the daycare I was a single Mom. It had always been difficult for me to balance work and home, like any mother! But, running a start up business with 2 small children at home was tough. Looking back I’m not even sure how I did it! Thank goodness for a wonderful support system – my support system was named Gail, or I refer to her as “Mom” J
Helping people to better understand their dogs was my passion (still is!). Since daycare was still so new there was a lot to learn. I don’t regret a moment! I learned SO much about dog behavior… I would suggest to anyone that is interested in dog behavior to spend some time in, 1 – a shelter, and 2 – a dog daycare! Learning to manage a pack of dogs, all of leash, without their owner there. It’s amazing. At my daycare we did things a little different than other daycares. Since my background was in behavior I was sure to have training be a part of our daily routine. We made sure the dogs were not barking excessively (of course we had those friends that like to talk a lot, but in general we did a good job!). Teaching the “zoomers” not to zoom, and explaining to owners why it’s cute when their dog zooms in the house, backyard and maybe even the off-leash park, but NOT good for daycare (other dogs like to try to “catch” or “stop” the dog that is zooming, and the way a dog stops another dog is with their teeth on the dogs’ side – Yikes!). Another behavior we worked on was making sure the dogs would “wait” at the door. When you work with your pack of dogs and effectively, without force, teach them to wait at the door – 30-40 dogs all waiting patiently for you to look directly at them and say their name before walking nicely though the door one at a time – well, that’s a moment to be proud of. There were so many challenging, yet fun and interesting things we did. Many I’m sure I’ll be talking about in my blog – It was a very big part of my life and I experienced so much about dog behavior – and people behavior!
I think the hardest part for me was being a boss for the first time. I used to tell people “I’m a dog trainer, not a business owner!”. I’ll admit I made some mistakes! But, I wouldn’t change any of them because I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. You sure learn a lot about people… The bad that makes you unable to sleep at night, and the good – so good you are humbled to have such wonderful people that care about you, your clients, and your business.
Building a business from scratch, putting together policies and procedures, web site, daycare, playgroups, events, full range of training classes, private lessons and behavior consults. I worked my tail off ! But, it all worked out in the end with super-amazing dogs, fantastic clients, and being awarded with Best of Madison, Gold for 2010 wasn’t too shabby either!
I thought I would start my blog with some of my past blogs… Hopefully you’ll learn a little about me and maybe I’ll get lucky and hear back from you too J I’d love to hear about your dogs, what training you’re doing – what’s working and maybe even what’s not… Figuring things out together is always helpful!