Meeting a dog for the first time is a lot like meeting a person: The best approach is to be open, be friendly, and to take it slow.

When you are starting a business in the pet industry that puts you and your staff in close contact with dogs, it’s important to remember that our canine companions are far more observant than our two-legged friends. Because they can’t speak to us, body language goes a long way.

“Dogs communicate through an expansive language of dog body signals,” says Dogtopia’s animal behaviorist Colleen Demling, who notes that they will also pick up on your own subtle body language.

For that reason, it’s important to take things slow when you first begin working with dogs. Some pups may get excited about meeting strangers, while others can be shy or skittish.

“Respect the dog’s boundaries. Most dogs do not like to be hugged, picked up, or kissed,” notes Demling. “Stay relaxed. If you are nervous then they will be nervous.”

So while it’s tempting to shower a new friend with affection, it’s best to speak calmly and confidently, give the dog the space they needs to gain confidence around you, and to watch for any signals that indicate that they might be getting stressed.

It’s a matter of trust

When you’re running a business in the pet industry, it’s important to not only build a bridge of trust with the pets in your care. Getting to know their human companions is just as critical to their health and happiness.

To a dog parent, knowing his or her best friend is in good hands is key to your business’ success. They need to feel confident that their prized pup is in a safe and supervised environment, with qualified professionals fully capable in overseeing their dog’s every need.

Letting a pet parent explain the unique traits of their dog, show off adorable photos or just rave on about their unique behavior not only gives insight into a dog’s established routines and habits, but gives a pet parent confidence that you are just as interested in their pet as they are, and you’re excited to shower their dog with the love and attention that they’re used to.

Remember, it’s just as difficult for pet parents to be separated from their dogs as it can be for dogs to be separated from their pet parent! Make this easier on both parties and start with a free tour of your facility for both dog and pet parent. They’ll both get a chance to get comfortable and familiarize themselves before their first day. This tour of your facility can go a long way in building that critical level of trust.

Education is the key

A big part of properly caring for every pet that comes through your doors is to be as thoroughly educated as possible about each of them.

Is the dog on a fixed feeding schedule or free-fed? Does she need any special medication? How much exercise is she used to? Does she get along well with others, or does she prefer alone time?

These are among some of the many questions that Dogtopians use to make sure each dog gets the care they need, and it’s important to remember that each dog is unique and comes with their own special requirements. Meeting these needs – and much more – helps ease any separation anxiety and can lead to a friend for life.

Because, like people, every dog is different. And because you only have one chance to make the right first impression, it’s important to get it right!

If you’re interested in a career that involves working with dogs, a Dogtopia franchise might be the perfect business opportunity for you!