By Michelle Mullins, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP
As a professional dog trainer most of my clients have some training issues they are working through with their pet. I love being able to teach them foundation behaviors, like sit, touch a target and stay, which are invaluable in training. Teaching behaviors like these develops the relationship between the person and their pet. At the same time they provide appropriate behaviors that can be substituted for behaviors you might not like. For example, a dog cannot be jumping up on you if he is sitting like you asked and getting rewarded for it.
Sometimes people need extra help with training certain behaviors. That’s when training tools and enrichment toys can be valuable assets. In my work in the pet industry I am very familiar with these tools and often have the opportunity to help customers with fit and use of these products. The most fulfilling part of my job is to show someone how one of these products can help them solve a problem or enjoy a better relationship with their pet. I never get tired of talking with customers about how one of our no-pull solutions helped them be able to take their dog on enjoyable walks and no longer be pulled down the street. It means the dogs and their people are getting more exercise and spending more time together!
So many people have approached me at tradeshows, conferences and through social media with stories of using our toys to give destructive chewers a safe outlet, to combat boredom and provide enrichment and challenge for both cats and dogs. It’s great to be able to help them find the best options for their pet.
Sometimes the stories are hard to hear. The first contact we have with many of our Keepsafe® Collar customers is when they’ve lost a beloved pet and found our breakaway collar while researching safe options. I know the heartbreak they are feeling and hope by continuing the effort to educate more people about this issue we honor each of them.
A few years ago I visited Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. They have a beautiful memorial garden, Angel’s Rest, for the animals. Each memorial is marked with little colored memory stones, pictures and mementos that are perfect in honoring the memory of a beloved animal. Some memorials were draped by collars and harnesses and, yes, some of those collars were made by this company. I couldn’t help but think about all the collars and harnesses we send out and how they each will find their way to a special animal. To see those collars made those losses so real to me.
All these experiences remind me daily of how, in a small way, I am able to touch the lives of so many pets and their people. As a trainer I couldn’t ask for anything better than this. Our customers, both people and pets, are my passion.