Gaining more sales (Part 1) Your Unique Selling Point



Malla Haridat
Entrepreneur Coach

Gaining more sales as a Dog Trainer by creating a business development SYSTEM
by Malla Haridat

If you are a dog trainer and looking for a better method to find, secure and maintain clients, I’ve got some great ideas for you.

Rather than spinning your wheels always searching for new clients, my recommendation is to spend some time planning for your sales and create a system for managing them.  It will save you time and energy in the long run and ensure you have a constant stream of interested clients.

Thinking about “The Business of” your dog training business.

Being a dog trainer is no easy feat!  I applaud all of the new and veteran trainers, because I admire the skills that you need to use in order to properly train dogs and more importantly their owners.

My first experience working with a dog trainer was a few months after my family adopted our first dog, a three month Rottweiler puppy.  She was incredibly lovable, loyal, kind hearted and….. full of energy!  After a few months, it became clear that we needed the guidance of a trainer to help teach her commands and ensure she was sociable with our neighbors and in public places.  She astounded us as she was very smart and quick to learn – once we had the right trainer in place!

The type of skills that make a good dog trainer are exactly the type of skills you will need to develop and grow your business.  Not only do your clients need you to be balanced, assertive and kind, confident and offering ongoing feedback but they need a trainer who is passionate, up to date on the trends and willing to listen to their particular needs.   What can separate you from a dog trainer who finds it hard to locate new clients and one who is overbooked is if you spend time on the “The Business of Your Business.”

I’ll share the first of three tips for you to work on this topic

First you need to identify:

What makes your business unique – what is your company brand and your unique selling point?

People like to do business with people they like.  They also enjoy working with companies who have a unique brand – something that sets them apart from other competitors.

•    Do you focus on certain breeds?

•    Do you have a specialty niche working with apartment dwellers or owners who have several dogs?

•    How about the types of behavioral problems that you specialize in?

Spend some time thinking about how you can niche your business.  Finding one or two areas that you can focus your business in will help you build a unique selling point for your customer and makes it easier to recommend them to friends and family.  Instead of being just a “dog trainer,” you’ll rise to the status of being an expert in your area.  This allows you to find clients more quickly as your customers have a better understanding of the unique problem you can help them solve.

 Consider the following when developing your unique selling point:

1.    Why would customers use your training services vs. other trainers?

2.    What results can you point to?

3.    What do customers often say about your successes? (This is often a telling area so don’t be afraid to survey former clients to hear what they enjoyed best about your service and what they would recommend changing)

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Malla Haridat is a recognized expert in the specialized field of entrepreneurship education and has trained over 1,000 students. She has traveled extensively throughout the United States working in partnership with companies developing creative solutions for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs.  A dynamic strategist and speaker, Malla works with a wide variety of organizations applying her creative talents to the challenges of business transformation. Her company was awarded the New York City Small Business Award of the Year by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a finalist in the Count Me in Urban Rebound program and has been featured in publications like The New York Times, BlackEnterprise.com, Inc.com and Fox Small Business.  https://mallaharidat.com/


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German Shepherd Dogs by Steve Diller



Steve Diller, Adjunct Prof., Applied Animal Behavior


Since the early 1900’s, German Shepherd Dogs have been popular in America. Max von Stephanitz, a wealthy German nobleman, created the breed while attempting to produce a dog breed capable of herding as well as guarding the flock in times of need. While the dog’s coat is suitable for all weather conditions, its size and seemingly effortless movement indicates strength and speed. Shepherds have many color variations. Acceptable colors are black and brown, black and red, gray, black or red sable and solid black. Adult males generally weigh between 75 to 95 pounds and adult females typically weigh 55 to 70 pounds. The gait, which describes movement, is called the flying trot. The German shepherd is supposed to have a far front reach as well as great rear end extension. This produces a dog that glides across the ground, covering a large area in few moves, which is the right movement for a dog keeping a flock of sheep together. In fact, the whole visual picture illustrates the qualities necessary to do their intended work. Large, strong and fast might simply state the breed’s physical attributes.

Perception of vulnerability and the willingness to comply are two essential traits for working German Shepherd Dogs. Perception of vulnerability requires the dog to be sensitive to the harmless. Based on this behavioral trait, a good German Shepherd Dog would never hurt a child, baby lamb or kitten. Willingness to comply is necessary in order for a dog to work for man. In the end, von Stephanitz produced a breed type that suited the Sheep rancher well. Imagine having a dog that is willing to obey your every command, play with your children and guard your home. Sounds like a dream; von Stephanitz struggled to produce it and did.

There are more German Shepherd Dogs registered to the German Shepherd Dog Club of Germany then all breeds combined in the American Kennel Club registry. This can be attributed to this breed’s ability to do just about any job available. Von Stephanitz concerned himself with the behaviors first and foremost. He said, “German shepherd breeding is service dog breeding”.

A temperament test was developed to test the scent ability, obedience capability and courage to defend its owner. Dogs that passed these tests were considered worthy of breeding. This test came to be known as Schutzhund.  Schutzhund is utilized today as a competition sport as well as a parameter to judge a dog’s character. Working breeds such as the Rottweiler and Doberman are also seen at Schutzhund training clubs and competitions. One major point here is that form must follow function when addressing working dog breeds. Nervous, skittish, aggressive dogs would never be bred if we followed von Stephanitz breeding guidelines because they could never fulfill our job requirements. Good looks, correct size and snazzy colors don’t make a working dog. Good character, including sound nerves, social balance, handler sensitivity and courage, make working dogs. Police dogs, search and rescue dogs, scent discrimination and Seeing Eye dogs are carefully bred based on behavioral traits.

German Shepherd bloodlines are an interesting topic in which I will forever be a student. Working bloodlines versus show bloodlines have been an on-going internal conflict among breeders and probably will be forever. Conformation (body type) is drastically different between the various types of bloodlines which includes American bred dogs, West German show lines, West German working lines, East German show, East German Working, Czech. Working bloodlines, Dutch and so on. German shepherds of the show line variety are generally more angulated than those of the working bloodlines. Anyone interested in the breed should do an ample amount of research before actually bringing one home. There is a wealth of information on this breed of dog and when a family is considering a dog as a pet, it is important to understand the unique and different behaviors that are present in the various bloodlines. Since many of the bloodlines originate from European countries research can be a bit difficult. However, it’s fun looking in to it and learning the names of some of the foundation dogs of the past and wondering if your dog may behave in the ways of his grandfather. My personal advice is when looking for a German shepherd, always look for the “von Stephanitz” version, forget its looks and remember it’s the strength, sensitivity and willingness of the dog that will solidify the existence of your relationship and make you never want to be without a German shepherd.

The description of the German Shepherd Dog within the perfect standard is more than wonderful but trying to find a real live dog that behaves as indicated will be challenging. Good luck! Unfortunately, this breed has suffered dearly as a result of its overwhelming popularity. Character problems run amuck in many of our current breeding lines. Many Shepherds are fearful, shy, sharp and aggressive, barking and lunging at strangers and other dogs. These nerve bags make the whole breed look bad. Physically, there are a whole host of possible chronic ailments to plague your dog throughout its life including orthopedic problems, neurological issues, gastrointestinal sensitivity and skin allergies. The German shepherd may be a challenging breed to consider given all the information. If you find a healthy and correct German Shepherd Dog, you will be stunned by the intelligence and sheer magnificence of your dog. It has been said that a German shepherd is as bright as a ten-year-old child. Think Rin Tin Tin. But if you get an unsound pup, oh boy, you’re in for it. I will admit that I have personally taken this risk many times acquiring both types over the years, so I have experienced the gamut and will continue to do so.

I began writing about the German Shepherd Dog in this issue’s Pet Gazette because of the number of these dogs frequently seen by millions of people. Today, there are dozens of German shepherd heroes working in New York City and Westchester to help us recover from the World Trade Center disaster and protect us from further harm. These dogs will work till they drop and do so with amazing focus and concentration making the German shepherd dog a truly amazing breed.

Steve Diller, Adjunct Prof.
Applied Animal Behavior, Mercy College
Proud German shepherd owner


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Way to Go! – DTC Trainers


WOW!  We’re impressed with the accomplishments, goals and comments from DTC trainers letting us know what they’ve been up to.  DTC is very excited to share them with you!

Julie Lowrey Garner is looking for a trainer she can assist in the Paris, Texas area and April Du Plantier needs some advice on her Facebook Business page.  Can anyone help them out?


My name is Julie Lowrey Garner.  I am a retired Occupational Therapist.  I have Cerebral Palsy and am mildly afflicted. I have arthritis every where and am like an old car with worn out parts according to my orthopedic surgeon who loves his job of repairing these old parts. I have two Master’s degrees one in teaching college and one in teaching early childhood and elementary education. I live in Paris Texas and we have Petco trainers. I can’t get them to  let me help out in their classes. So I am embarking on shelter dog training  with the hope of eventually getting my CPDT- KA certification. My professional listing with the APDT association is Julie Garner, OTR Number 82243

I am self taught and live In a rural area. I would like to post a couple of things on the website as to what I am doing. I am recovering from a total knee replacement so am out of working with my dogs outside. Things to do while recovering from a surgery. Protect the surgical site with pillows so if they jump up and land on the injured leg it won’t hurt. Actually it is quite therapeutic for desensitizing the bruised area. Have some helper care for your dogs. Trust me it is better to ignore the dog than to get an injury on the surgical site. Use the walker for protection from jumping up on you. Do not rush into seeing your dogs until you have the endurance to enjoy their company. Use baby gates and crates to prevent yourself from getting hurt. Let the dogs know you love them but you can’t be overly free with them. Be sure your dog is sitting before you touch them. I have a ten month old mixed breed and a 2 year old Yorkie. Sit on the sofa with walker in front of you and a protective pillow around the leg for the first visit. I hope this is of use to someone else.



Ok you asked for it!!  I have four demo dogs and I like to show off their talents.   I have two mini Aussie that got their RN a month and a half ago and are going for their RA this weekend and novice obedience also starting an awesome rescue dog, American dog , AKC in rally novice. As a trainer I need to be an inspiration to my clients.  I also herd, do splash dogs, the obedience circuit and handle an exhibitor bred mini american shepherd.  I work full time as a trainer, I love it.

Terri Dickerson


photo2014 has been a year of expansion for The Dog Spot and for our training programs.  I have started to move away from structured group classes and focus more on individual training.  We added board and train as well as playcare and train to our list of services.  In addition, we are trying mini-private sessions to help people with their dog’s basic skills…one behavior at a time.  All of these services are proving to be very popular and we are already seeing great interest and success.

Joyce Keeton The Dog Spot – Loganville, GA


Eric & Annie - Therapy Dog

Eric & Annie – Therapy Dog

My fur pal, Annie and I have become a therapy dog team. Annie got her CGC certification via the AKC, as well as graduating from the Good Dog Foundation’s pet therapy training program. Annie is the Chocolate Lab in the photo.  The handsome guy in the rust colored sweater is me.  We volunteer once a week at a local psychiatric hospital (adolescent unit) and love the experience. The staff and residents like our visits as well.  It’s a win-win situation.  On a business note, it is slow at this time of year.

Eric Albert – Training Director at Best In Show Dog Training, LLC


I’m not social media savvy and my website just sits there with only 9 likes in a year. Could someone please put out a book called “Business Pages on Facebook for Dummies?” My goal this summer is to get some action and interaction on my business Facebook page. I do not have a personal Facebook page.

April DuPlantier


YAY dog! was recently a dog trainer finalist in the Independent Weekly’s Best of the Triangle for 2014! YAY! I am so gratified and appreciative.

Clare Reece-Glore YAY Dog!
Durham, NC


I’m so excited to share that I am finally going to be opening MY OWN training business in a few months. Just met with the owner of a pet supply store and will be renting space in the store for DogStar Training NJ. We will be signing a lease in about a month as the store is being renovated for opening in October!

Kathy Medel
DogStar Training NJ


I am in the process of setting and cleaning my backyard and looking to set up training and possibly boarding  in my basement.  I am having a slow go at this. So much garbage and weeds to contend with. I can’t wait.

Theresa Cahill
A1 Critter Sitters
Riverhead, NY

Stroudsburg Dog Training Center Celebrates One Year Anniversary

Sit, Stay, ‘N Play is proud of a successful first year, offering year-round dog training in Stroudsburg Sit, Stay, ‘N Play, located at 1501 North 5th Street in Stroudsburg, PA is celebrating their First Anniversary on July 26, 2014, and clients across Monroe, Pike, and Northampton Counties are experiencing the many benefits of partnering with a professional Dog Trainer.   The celebration will run from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.  Dog-friendly vendors will be in attendance as well as local rescues.  The day will also include live music and raffle items to benefit the local rescues in attendance.

Passion and the entrepreneurial spirit, along with a genuine love for animals, were the building blocks for Sit, Stay, ‘N Play in 2013. Owner and animal enthusiast, Lisa Kirschner is thrilled to tell her success story, a year after opening this dog training and social center.  There weren’t many growing pains throughout the last year, as owner of Sit, Stay, ‘N Play, Lisa Kirschner, utilized her business background to build the company and cultivate success. She turned her passion for dogs into an opportunity. “Many people have great ideas or wish they could do what they love. Having a good dog with lots of energy, I decided it was time to do what I love, which is to work with animals and help people better understand them.”

Lisa Kirschner
Sit, Stay, ‘N Play


Well I’m always eager to learn more and have been studying very hard. I am pleased to have passed the Animal Behavior College Level 2 trainers exam. (Highest level) Also I am training Deaf Dogs as well.

Amy Fischer ABCDT – L2
2nd Chance Obedience Training
Arf Adoption/ Training Consultant
Prison/Comm. Foster Coordinator


I have just moved down to Nashville TN from NYC and opened up my training business – Sabra Dog Training. I’m one of only 4 CPDTs in all of Nashville. I’m starting a Meet Up group for dog business people and I’m also a volunteer dog trainer with Agape Animal Rescue (waiting for my first assignment). The most exciting news is that I am the new dog trainer for the Davidson County Prison and Greyhound Rescue Foundation. The male inmates who qualify for the “Life Program” (there are about 12 of them currently) are assigned a Greyhound that has been rescued from racing situations. They are placed with inmates in jail for 8 weeks. During those 8 weeks the inmates are completely responsible for the dogs’ care. During that time I come in once a week and teach a 6-week basic obedience course, just as I would with any group class. The only difference is that in this situation I am behind bars with guards watching me. Once the dogs have completed their course they are placed in foster homes and then eventually adopted out. The men also get a certificate of completion and are allowed to repeat the course as many times as they want with new dogs that come in (as long as their behavior has earned them a spot in the class). I am in the middle of teaching my first course for them and have been asked to help the female inmates with the puppies that they receive from another organization in town as well. It is an honor to be helping dogs AND people! I absolutely LOVE teaching this class!

Ayelet Berger, CPDT-KA



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The Best Place to Board Your Dog – Second Part



Interview with Dale Ketcham

How to tell if a dog will fit in with other dogs during a meet-and-greet

A Holistic Approach to Dog Boarding

DTC:  In the First Part of our interview you talked about finding the best place to board your dog. When someone brings their dog to check out your place, how do you tell if the dog will be stressed in a “pack” situation as you often have many dogs staying with you.


  • We do a meet-and-greet, leaving the dog off leash in the yard with humans only so it can sniff around.  When the tail position looks comfortable (long straight or up a little), we introduce other dogs.
  • To prevent our guest dogs from all charging at the new dog, we toss a cup of kibble to distract them.  If the new dog runs, it creates chaos and frustration.  If it stands still and allows itself to be sniffed by the “house dogs,” all is fine.
  • Avoid allowing a dog to be cornered and never do this with the new dog on leash.  He must have total freedom to handle himself in the situation.  And in that handling, you will see if he’s balanced and pack oriented or not.

Also, if you’re a seasoned trainer you can recognize the stress signs.  It’s all in canine body language and social skills:

  • Has it been well socialized?
  • Does it play well with others?
  • How does it approach other dogs…with caution or glee?
  • Does it interpret other dogs’ body language well?
  • Does it mind being sniffed?
  • Is it toy or food aggressive?
  • How does it respond to a play bow?

My best recommendation is a book entitled ON TALKING TERMS WITH DOGS:  CALMING SIGNALS by Turid Rugaas.  Page 26 — how to identify stress.  Worth reading again and again if you want to be an advocate for dogs and their well-being.

DTC:  Do you have any tips for trainers who are thinking of boarding their clients’ dogs in their own homes?  What can they do to make the dog feel less stressed?

Dale:  I’ve got a book in the works, with a subtitle of “how to own and operate your own in-home dog boarding business.”  The title is MUST LOVE DOGS and that’s the prerequisite for boarding dogs in your home.  And patience.  And creating the right environment.  And being a calm influence.  You must exude calmness and a sense of leadership.  Earn their respect through a balance of mushiness and setting boundaries.

With new dogs:

  • we usually spend extra time creating a bond
  • spend time grooming them
  • give them special attention, like reaching out to touch them when they pass by and frequent “Good Girl’s”
  • we top their kibble with a special add-on (today it was a sardine), or a raw bone treat, so that they think: Hey, this place is great!

DTC:  You give the dogs in your care people food treats such as carrots and bones.  How do you convince your clients that these things are healthy?  If a client only wants to give their dog dry kibble do you go along with that, or do you convince them that kibble alone isn’t a nutritious diet?

Dale:  I deal with this at the meet-and-greet, before boarding the dog.  I tell them:

  • we may be adding to the dog’s food because we feel they will burn more energy while here.  I don’t really try to convince them it’s healthy; it’s real food.
  • I usually don’t get resistance.
  • If someone did say “only feed kibble,” that would be a red flag for me, unless the dog has allergies.  (I do ask what brand they feed their dog and try to steer them toward a better kibble if need be.)

I find those who seek me out are looking for high quality service and a Labs Only atmosphere.  If they want to board here, they pretty much accept what we do.  And that goes for crating too.  If they still crate, I explain we won’t and if their dog can’t be trusted loose, this isn’t the place to board them.  I have a list of others who board and are very willing to crate.

DTC:  What are your policies regarding vaccinations and Bordetella shots.  Do your clients have to have proof of any of these?

Dale:  No. I don’t require it.  I used to think I should but my first year in business I had a customer who gave her reasons for being very much opposed to vaccinations.  It made perfect sense to me.  So I don’t broadcast it, but will mention that your vet may suggest Bordetella which protects against one strain of Kennel Cough and there are many.  I keep a holistic treatment on hand.

DTC:  Do you require clients to put flea and tick preparations on their dogs before boarding with you?

Dale:  I don’t use any flea or tick preventative on my dogs.  Even though we have a wooded lot over the back fence, neither has ever been a problem.  I always feel bad because many will put it on their dog right before delivering it to us and I think, gosh, you poisoned your dog just for me?  So no, we respect the holistic approach!

DTC:  We love the holistic approach too Dale.  Thank you for the interview!

Dale has extended an invitation to visit her home (https://www.weboardlabs.com/) – send her an e-mail (daledk@optonline.net) or call her (631-549-8263) and you’re welcome to a tour!

All rights reserved © Dog Trainers Connection and Dale Ketcham, We Board Labs, Huntington, NY.

Dale Ketcham, owner of We Board Labs in Huntington, Long Island, NY, has worked with dogs for many years including volunteering to raise dogs for the Guide Dog Foundation, and she was certified as a positive reinforcement trainer through PetSmart.

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The Best Place to Board Your Dog – First Part



Dogs at We Board Labs

Dogs at We Board Labs

Interview with Dale Ketcham

Dale Ketcham, owner of We Board Labs in Huntington, Long Island, NY, (https://www.weboardlabs.com/) has worked with dogs for many years including volunteering to raise dogs for the Guide Dog Foundation, and she was certified as a positive reinforcement trainer through PetSmart.

Nine years ago, she started her boarding business with an environment that offers guest dogs total freedom, inside and outside of her home, while being selective about the dogs she takes. She isn’t willing to give up her nice home with a yard and gardens, or being able to entertain her friends. She wants that for herself and that’s what impresses potential customers when they come to her facility for a tour. They don’t see sheets on the furniture, there are no crates, cages or clumsy baby gates – only well-behaved Labrador Retrievers of all ages and colors being treated royally.

Dale shares some awesome information about how you can advise your clients as to the best boarding situation for their dog and the not so great ones – after all, we all worry when we leave our dogs!

DTC: Trainers’ clients often ask them to suggest places to board their dogs or ask them what the best type of boarding is. Can you share some information on what to recommend.

Dale: First, you have to know your dog.

• What’s his normal day like?
• Is he people oriented or dog-oriented?
• Active or inactive?
• Easily stressed or eager to make friends?

Then look for the best match. The needs of a 10-month-old Labrador, a 3-year-old Jack Russell, and an 11-year-old St. Bernard are all different. So based on:

• breed
• temperament
• age
• mobility
• personality

you ask yourself what type of environment would he be happiest in. Then educate yourself on what the options are:

• A kennel with a good reputation
• A pet sitter coming 3 times a day or staying overnight at the dog’s home
• A backyard business like mine that boards dogs
• A host family option that you’d find through several sites such as “Buddy’s Sleepovers” or “Dog Vacay.”

**Beware of the friend/relative/neighbor who offers to watch over your pooch. Even if they are dog lovers and owners, they come with hidden dangers. Don’t hand your dog over to anyone unless they are truly dog savvy**

DTC: The mantra of your business is “ideally you want them in a home environment, taken care of with the same love and attention you give them.” Do you have an opinion about boarding in vets’ offices or large commercial kennels?

Dale: What concerns me about vets’ boarding is:

• the size of the cage
• the number of hours they are in it
• the lack of social interaction
• the solitary walk outside only to relieve themselves
• no one there when the office is closed.

As for kennels:

• I like the ones who arrange for playtime, but really…20 minutes? Honestly, it can work for some dogs if they’re solid as a rock and very adaptable. Some dogs need a limited environment. They can’t handle too much freedom – it stresses them out.

• My biggest concern with standard kennels is that some dogs are very stressed there and others, that might normally not be stressed in that environment, take on the energy of the stressed dogs – the barking, the pacing, the nervousness. It’s upsetting to a balanced dog.

• Additionally at some facilities the dogs never see the light of day and are taken to a room with a pebble floor to relieve themselves. Holding it stresses their bladder and often they return home with housebreaking issues.

• On the other hand, they’re usually safe from harm, won’t escape, and are in a controlled (but loosely monitored) environment. They’ve passed inspections and have trained employees and standards, which can’t be said about someone’s house.

DTC: Are there any situations where you feel a dog should stay home, be taken care of by a pet sitter who comes three times a day, and possibly stays over night?

Dale: Normally I don’t suggest this unless you’re going away for a short amount a time, say a long weekend because the dog has to be emotionally okay with being left alone. But in the instance of a senior dog that sleeps most of the day, a dog with physical restrictions, an under-socialized dog or a dog with an unstable temperament – certainly.

Stay tuned for the Part 2 of the interview covering:

Super tips and suggestions for trainers thinking of boarding dogs including:

• How to incorporate your “holistic” beliefs into your boarding and do you need to insist on vaccinations and flea and tick preparations.
• How to get a dog acclimated to a pack of dogs in a home boarding situation and determine whether the dog will fit in

Dale has extended an invitation to visit her home facility. Send her an e-mail Dale@WeBoardLabs.com or call her 631-549-8263 and you’re welcome to a tour! Like Dale’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/WeBoardLabs to see fun videos of Labs

All rights reserved © Dog Trainers Connection and Dale Ketcham, We Board Labs, Huntington, NY.

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