5 Tips for Working with Dogs
A career where you can be surrounded by furry four-legged friends daily is a dog lover’s dream! While it can be both rewarding and endearing, choosing a franchise that involves being around dogs requires certain skills that you should possess to help make the experience beneficial for both you and the dogs you interact with. In turn, this will provide a work environment that is effective for your employees, while satisfying your furry, four-legged customers (and their pet parents).
While there are numerous different franchises you can choose from in the pet industry (i.e., pet food, health products and technology, training or daycare centers, grooming salons, etc.) that all may require their own set of skills and training, the common thread is the interaction between you and dogs, and finding ways to optimize this interaction is key.
Below are five tips on how to effectively work with dogs that are applicable no matter what type of pet franchise you choose. Nevertheless, we recommend confirming the required responsibilities of your prospective franchise to help ensure you are meeting the duties necessary, and always following the guidelines and standards listed by your franchisor.
1. Practice Patience
The dogs that you engage with, whether it’s in passing or directly, will vary in personality and training level, which will require you and your employees to practice an immense amount of patience, even more so around the dogs who are a bit more rambunctious or who do not always follow commands.
Whether it be your first time meeting them or they are a regular in your care, you may not get the same experience every time (like humans, dogs can have bad days too) and demonstrating patience will go far. This can be especially true if you require a dog to perform a particular action, respond to a command, interact with other pups, and the list goes on – patience is important no matter the situation.
Along with practicing patience comes a gentle demeanor, which is always necessary to possess, but especially when first meeting with a pup as they attune themselves to a new environment. While this can happen at any time, but particularly throughout the pandemic, dogs may be used to a limited number of locations (i.e., home, the park, etc.) where they’ve established a feeling of safety and comfort. A new environment can take some getting used to, which may make some dogs nervous and/or cause them to act out. Preparing for this by being patient and projecting a calm, gentle attitude toward them can help ease their nerves. It can also help you build a better relationship with the dogs you engage with over time.
Encouraging this demeanor throughout your franchise can be extremely important to ensure pet parents feel comfortable enough to bring their dog to your space. If they see that you offer a safe environment, it can offer them peace of mind, which in turn, can help generate repeat customers and a loyal customer base.
2. Acknowledge Dog-specific Behavior
As a franchisee within the pet industry, everything you may know or have picked up in your previous business experience about engaging with customers can be applied to your interactions with pet parents. However, since you and your team will also be engaging with dogs, it is important to gain insight into the specific behavioral cues dogs exhibit to ensure their experience in your facility is optimal.
If dogs could talk, it could probably make many situations with them a lot easier on us, but since they don’t, it is important that you and your employees recognize their body language when interacting with them. The main way to do so (without acquiring magical powers) is by acknowledging their non-verbal, behavioral cues.
Of course, dogs may bark when they need to get your attention, but there are other gestures and behaviors that they can exhibit to let you in on how they are feeling. However, it requires an immense amount of attention to catch those positive or negative emotions.
Dogs can communicate with their entire body, such as their tail, eyes, mouth, posture, etc. Picking up on behavior cues will help you and your team better understand the types of dogs you are working with, and this can help you plan accordingly, whether that means changing the environment or the way you interact. For example, if you find the dogs that you and your employees engage often exhibit distressed behavior while in your care, it is important look around your facility for ways to improve the environment or re-evaluate the techniques you’re using to bring them greater comfort.
3. Communicate Effectively
You may not be communicating with someone that can respond back, but dogs require clear and concise communication, as it can help avoid any confusion or bad behavior on their part. Whether you and your team are training, grooming, caring for, or walking them – any time you require a dog to follow an order or respond in a certain action, speak in a clear and easy-to-understand manner. That way, the behavior can be repeated by using the same type of language.
The other half of the equation is the pet parent(s) who you will also likely need to communicate with. Being able to effectively explain to them the benefits of your services, their dog’s behavior and what their experience was like in your care is essential to building customer loyalty and generating positive reviews and feedback.
Franchisees must also learn how to communicate effectively with their employees. Helping run the day-to-day responsibilities requires teamwork and clear communication so that everyone remains on the same page. Working with dogs is not always a walk in the park (no pun intended), but communicating your needs and expectations with those who work for you will be particularly helpful.
4. Maintain Positive Emotions Around Dogs
Did you know that dogs can pick up on your emotions? Research has found that dogs can tell the difference between happy and angry human expressions and that they mean two different things. In fact, dogs can understand and mimic the feelings of others – a study found that if a nearby human experiences stress, it is likely that the dog will, too.
Therefore, if you are about to enter into a franchise within the pet industry, first determine if you enjoy and feel passionate about it. If engaging with dogs is not something you think you will particularly like, it may impact your success. Dogs pick up on the feelings of the humans around them and showing genuine interest will go a long way. The same goes with hiring your employees – choosing team members who possess a passion and genuine enjoyment for dogs will help your business succeed.
5. Improve Business Operations
As with any business, management and operational best practices are important. However, when it comes to working with dogs, you are directly caring for someone’s furry family member, which requires an additional level of trust. Follow your franchisor’s advice and best practices to ensure that you run an organized system, and that as the franchise owner, you are on top of everything that’s going on in your store.
It is important to keep in mind that dogs will not always respond immediately or in a way that you would like them to, so if things are in disarray, it may require extra effort to get a handle on things as compared to other businesses. If multiple dogs are in your care at one time and you are not running an organized system where every employee knows their role and duties, trying to care for even one dog may seem overwhelming. By maintaining operational standards and routines, such as ensuring appointment requests can be easily processed or that you have enough staff scheduled to care for your upcoming canine clients, you will find things will go a lot smoother, which makes for satisfied pups and pet parents.
Working with Dogtopia
If working with dogs sounds like an ideal career move, please visit our FAQ page that includes detailed explanations about our franchise process, and be sure to fill out our online inquiry form to get in contact with a member of our franchising team.