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Dog Training Services Are More Important Than Ever Before

Dogs and their owners can agree – 2020 has been rough. And now as we round the bend toward 2021, we are still staring COVID-19 in the face. This year’s countless stressors have had an undeniable effect on pet owners, but how about on pets themselves? It turns out that while yes, all the quality time spent with pets can certainly deepen relationships and provide comfort, you can have too much of a good thing.

As a professional dog trainer we know that you’ve thought about these things. Now it’s time to work through them. Your dog training services can help both pets and their parents to cope during stressful times. The key lies in adapting to your customers’ changing needs.

Changing Routines, Altered Behaviors

Before everyone was at home for months on end, they probably wished they could spend more time with their favorite four-legged pals. And at the beginning of the pandemic, having a dog at home was a welcome distraction from the news, a way to get out and exercise, and likely provided a vital sense of companionship for so many people. Daily walks and caring for pets could have been the one thing that gave owners’ days structure and kept them sane – it was about all anyone could do to safely get out of the house. But as time has worn on, what initially provided comfort could now be a source of frustration.

It’s possible that a favorite furball had already been displaying some less-than-desirable traits, but owners weren’t home enough to be bothered by them. Or it could be that the over-stimulation from kids and parents stuck at home and the lack of daily structure has undone some beneficial behaviors. Maybe the absence of outside socialization has resulted in a dog that’s unsure or wary of anyone outside the family circle. This could especially be the case if a pup only joined the family during the pandemic.

Now that your customers have settled into a working or schooling routine, whether at home or not, dogs are once again thrown into change. If clients are now away from home after long stretches of one-on-one time, dogs could be feeling separation anxiety. If they are still at home, other duties could have taken over and are demanding their time, but pets still crave those long, daily walks. In the past, owners being at home meant play time, now, it suddenly means business, and the adjustment could be tough for everyone.

From Emotional To Physical

Dog trainers saw this coming. They also knew that a fundamental upheaval in scheduling and normalcy would translate to a confused pup. No trips to the dog park, no training sessions, no time with the dog sitter or walker, no road trips or visits to friends – that’s a lot of change. Since routines are key for pets and can set parameters for expected behaviors, it makes complete sense that both pets and owners could be having a tough time right now. Socialization, play, and exercise are vital and without them a dog’s pent up energy could manifest in aggression.

It’s also been observed that dogs are very good at picking up mood signals from their owners. You’ve likely seen this in your training – dogs can sense the stress their owners feel. Now that pet owners are likely back to work and school, possibly from home, and perhaps with the whole family in relatively small quarters, there’s a new layer of stress present. Dogs quickly pick up on those mood shifts and can be affected themselves.

Dogs can sense their owners' moods and respond.

Trainers know that a dog will communicate in the only way it can –– physically. And dog owners the world over have been reporting increased aggression, biting, and overall bad behavior as the pandemic drags on. Those beloved pups can’t know that everyone is home because there is a deadly virus lurking out there, they just think it’s play time, all the time. And when things don’t go their way, they could act out. This is why training is so key to helping dog owners establish balance, boundaries, and to address aggressive behaviors before they get out of hand.

Helping Clients Cope

As a pet care professional, your goal is always to help pets and owners work together and keep the good vibes flowing. Especially now, when pet owners are doing real-time learning of the pros and cons of pet ownership, they need support. Remember too that there are many first-time pet owners out there. You don’t want these folks to feel that they got into something they can’t handle and be compelled to give up on their pets. Here is where your training skills can quite literally save lives.

But the question remains: How can you get your services to current and potential customers who desperately need help when social distancing is still in effect and COVID-19 rates are rising? It turns out that in the midst of a pandemic, technology is everyone’s best friend.

Tools To Train

Clients might typically think of dog training as a one-on-one or group exercise, done in a studio or training facility. But even before restrictions set in, smart dog trainers have been taking their businesses online. The various methods they have developed to use technology to its best advantage have become absolutely vital during these socially-distanced times. From virtual group training sessions to live individual lessons, online videos and video chats, there are plenty of avenues available.

Creating and then utilizing a strong online presence is another key for dog trainers who want to retain and build business while still catering to their customers’ needs. A robust website, relevant social media posts, informative blogs, and timely newsletters can keep clients engaged and help to reinforce lessons learned during training sessions. Various online platforms can also enable file sharing and community chats, which can help everyone to stay connected and invested in training. And all that visibility will mean that you could succeed in attracting previously unreachable clients, along with new pet parents who are also online, searching for advice.

Admittedly, one more ZOOM session might not sound ideal to clients. But for those who are dealing with behavioral issues, a more peaceful home life is likely worth the additional screen time. So use the technology outlets you have available to help clients get past symptoms and reach the root cause of their dog’s behavioral issues. Be flexible and meet clients where they are.

This time at home with pets can result in deep bonding and is the best way for clients to take advantage of training time that they didn’t have available in the past and might not have in the future. There is still a chance to turn possible negatives into net positives, and your dog training expertise is what will help them get there.

Meet pet owners where they are -- at home -- to facilitate training that bonds pets and owners.

Trusted to Protect

You know the issues at hand and that the stakes are high – if not properly handled, a dog’s aggressive behavior could have serious consequences. So look for ways to use technology to help clients work through problems. Avail yourself of the resources available from industry organizations and get in touch with colleagues to learn how they are making their pet training business work right now.

And as you make this transition to the unknown, be sure to reach out to the pet care insurance professionals at Zinc. Our dedicated team will ensure that you have the protection you need to build and grow safely. We’re wishing you, your clients, and those loveable pups all the best in the world!