Mental Stimulation: Getting the best out of your dog

Did you know, boredom and excess energy are two common reasons for behaviour problems in dogs. This makes sense because they’ve been naturally bred to lead very active lives. Wild dogs spend about 80% of their waking hours hunting and scavenging for food. Domestic dogs have been helping and working alongside us for thousands of years, for tasks such as hunting, farming or protection. For example, retrievers and pointers were bred to locate and fetch game and water birds. Scent hounds, like coonhounds and beagles, were bred to find rabbits, foxes and other small prey. Dogs like German shepherds, collies, cattle dogs and sheepdogs were bred to herd livestock.

Whether dogs were working for us or scavenging on their own, their survival once depended on lots of exercise and problem solving. But what about now?Dog Resting on Floor

Today that’s changed. While we’re away at work all day, they generally have not much else to do but sleep. The result is dogs who are bored, often overweight and have too much energy. It’s a perfect recipe for behaviour problems.

How do we fix this problem?

It’s not necessary to quit your job, take up duck hunting or get yourself a bunch of sheep to keep your dog out of trouble. However, we encourage you to find ways to exercise not only their body, but their brain. And because we all lead busy lives, and can’t always hire a Dog Walker or Daycare Service, if you give your dog “jobs” to do when they’re by herself, they’ll be less likely to come up with her own ways to occupy her time, like chewing your couch, raiding the trash or eating your favourite pair of shoes.

Nik Training Dogs

We, at Dharma Dog Services, have been putting this idea to practise with our Social Club crew, with a new program called “Today We’re Working On…”. We know that all of our Social Club dogs already get an abundance of physical exercise they need, and socialisation, at our Daycare, but what about mental exercise? This where we have stepped in. The results? Some very happy, tired, well behaved dogs! And of course, happy owners!

Below you will see some of the exercises that we have been doing with our dogs. Some behavioural exercises, some fun games and tricks – both just as satisfying for you and your dog.

If you want any tips on games you can play with your dog, or leave for your dog to do whilst you are at work, let us know! Or if you have any of your own, I’d love to hear them. We’re always looking for creative ideas, and requests, that we can put into practise with our crew. Learn more about our Social Club here – or like us on Facebook for more videos & updates.

Today We’re Working On… Patience!

Click here to view Video (1)
Click here to view Video (2)

…Listening!

Click here to view Video (1)

…Show Us Your Tricks!

Click here to view Video (1)
Click here to view Video (2)

“Bark” is the New “Tweet”

The Dharma Dog twitter account, @dharmadogcares, is now being written from the perspective of a dog. “Bark” is the new tweet for Dharma Dog and the posts are a mixture of hilarity, irony and absolutely outrageous.

An example of a tweet from our dog is “I practice barking at the door constantly, my neighbours aren’t supportive of my aspirations. I will keep trying!” We also find our bark

Dog on cellphone

This dog hasn’t figured out how to tweet like our dog yet!

tweets in the form of backtalk, even to @cesarmillan, #BOL Bark Out Loud!

Not sure if you know this, but there is a heck of a lot of social media out there for dogs in today’s world. Many of them are for dog owners to create dog profiles for their pet.

Woof.co is the website for the dog app called Woof by Woof Labs. The clever logo is a dog’s paw with the heel in a heart shape. This app claims it will bring you closer to your dog as well as document your dog’s life through photos, marking its territory and sharing photos with other dog owners in your area. Better back up your iCloud or Android phone regularly to save all your hard work!

The website for Pack Dog almost looks like a dating profile webpage with dog photos and their names showcased in a thumbnail photo collage taking up your entire screen. The eye catching webpage greets you and interacts with you until you can’t take it anymore – add my dog to this beautiful display of canines! At the top it says “PACK” with the tagline, “discover the magic of everyday dog moments”. Enticing enough? Hover your cursor over the button to add your dog and this message pops up, “Pack is the beautiful new photo community for people who love their dogs. Add your dog to get started,” it says. How can I resist? Of course I think MY dog is the most beautiful! BOL (bark out loud). In moments, I joined. The picture I chose? My beautiful husband Nik and his handsome dog, Vegas from our Dharma Dog Team photos. I think it’s time you tried it out and experience it for yourself!

TO BE CONTINUED…

A Complaint is Music to my Ears

Many times I hear about service complaints at this place or that. I’ve read reviews on-line, through social media, or heard them through word of mouth.

As a business owner I LOVE hearing a complaint from my customers. Why? Because I learn from them!

As a young dude growing up I would often get into trouble. A lot of trouble. I pushed boundaries, broke rules, probably broke the law on occasion. But I learned from those mistakes. I make an effort to avoid repeating the mistakes as often as possible.

It was easy to learn from my mistakes growing up because I would face the consequences directly. They weren’t hidden from me. I would often see the end result of some of my boneheaded ideas.

As a business owner, it is slightly different. I know our shop makes mistakes, and when I catch those mistakes we adjust our protocols and fix them. We make adjustments accordingly and make a very strong effort to avoid repeating them. It helps us leave work knowing that we’ve given the day our very best effort.

When I find out about a customer being unhappy or dissatisfied with the service I make the same effort to listen to the reason and make adjustments to prevent the issue. If a customer is dissatisfied however, and doesn’t let us know, we wont adjust. The end result is not so good for my little Mom and Pop shop.

Dharma Dog Services

Dharma Dog Services loves happy customers!

We probably won’t see the customer again, and they will likely make an effort to prevent others from trying our shop out! 🙁

Here are some tips to ensure satisfaction no matter which business you go to:

1. Ask to speak to the manager. Don’t be afraid, or embarrassed, let them know you were dissatisfied with the service, or product. Chances are they will be empathetic, and understanding as most businesses strive to achieve a certain standard.

2. Choose your language carefully. I heard a saying before that will help you immensely! “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  Although you may be extremely upset, try not to be mean. If you’re feeling too angry or overwhelmed try to cool down before addressing the issue with the Manager. They’re a conduit to a solution for you. Try to work with them as a team. Don’t be a pushover but definitely make an effort to communicating your problem or needs versus simply being upset.

3.Give them a chance to fix it. Most problems are fairly small, and if they are a complaint about quality, then it’s definitely in your best interest to let the shop know. Chances are you will be heard, and worked with.

4. If your complaint isn’t being respected, or heard, escalate! If you don’t feel that the owner has given your situation the ol’ college try perhaps it’s time to report the business. or, simply never attend again.

 

Well, here’s hoping that I hear your complaint 😉

 

Nik

 

 

Dog Eat Dog

I am feeling a tremendous amount of pressure these days.

We are developing our dog walking program and really want it to be a smooth transition. We have a new website in the works www.dharmadogservices.com and it looks great! I can’t wait to release it.

We have our Coconut oil on the shelves and I couldn’t be happier about offering such a fantastic product.

We are launching our treats in the next few weeks too!

We will be carrying a selection of raw food for all of you purists out there’s as well.

We have two of the best groomers in Vancouver.

I have loads of experience and I continue to learn as much as possible about dogs and their world.

Our dog training program starts in July.

So why am I feeling so much pressure? It would seem that it’s self imposed and I suppose that’s normal.

Todays blog is cathartic and will allow me to vent a bit.

All of this pressure that I feel is because I truly want to offer a top-notch service.  I guess when it comes down to it, all of the planning and dreams mean nothing unless you can execute. Argh…. Well, stick with us to see if we can pull it off 🙂

dogs waiting for treats

Waiting in line for treats

Sorry for the short narcissitic post today.

Nik

 

Dog Grooming Small Business

My Title is purposely misleading. Why? I’m really not sure, I just thought it sounded catchy. The really isn’t too much drama in the dog grooming world. An irate customer here, I competitor tearing down posters there. It’s really a fairly stable business aside from some unexpected bumps in the road.

Small business can be tricky, and it’s essential to operate as smoothly and organized as possible. Things had been running very smoothly as of late, almost too smoothly. I left work on Friday and let our capable staff members handle the shop on Saturday.  I enjoyed my weekend and was prepared to head back to work on Tuesday after the long weekend. We had scheduled a few grooms for Tuesday in the early morning. Upon my arrival I realized that our dog wash area wasnt functioning. Zero water! You can’t exactly have a dog grooming shop without water! So a few hundred dollars later and the problem was solved. We used Mr.Swirl plumbing service. They were great and very efficient. Had I not prepared a contigency fund in our bank account for such events who knows how the day would have gone.

I was fairly grumpy afterward but I soon got over it and carried on with business as usual.

None of our grooms had to be rescheduled and we didnt ose any business!

Lesson learned. Plan for the worst, expect the best!

 

Vancouver dog grooming

Vancouver dog grooming

 

I own a Dog Grooming Shop

I own a dog grooming shop. She owns a bakery. He owns an auto mechanic shop. They own a small restaurant.

Not every business is owned by a mega corporation out to make billions and evade paying their taxes off shore. Most businesses are owned by your neighbours, friends and family members.

When you support small business, such as choosing my dog grooming shop over a mega  corporation, alternatively you help in more ways than you can even begin to realize.

Scenario One: your dog is dirty so you bring him to Dharma Dog Daycare and Grooming. At the end of the groom you are completely satisfied and pay us the requested fee. That money then goes towards paying staff, bills, or helps put food on my table. I take that money and spend it at a local business to purchase bread. That baker then takes that money and uses it to fix her brakes at the auto mechanic shop. That auto mechanic then takes his wife out to a nice locally owned restaurant

lemonade stand

support even the smallest business

which sources its food from a local farmer. That local farmer realizes that his dog really stinks and needs a groom. He calls Dharma Dog and the cycle continues.

Scenario Two: your dog is very dirty so you go to a mega corporation.  At the end of the groom you are satisfied and pay the requested fee. That money goes into their business and will likely LEAVE CANADA. A small portion will help pay wages, this is true. However the majority will actually leave the country to pay share holders etc. Thus ending the cycle. Now the local grooming shop is not able to go buy bread from the local baker due to cost. So he chooses a mega shop where the cost is marginally cheaper. Again the cycle is broken further. The baker has the brake problem but can’t afford the repair. This leaves the baker with squeaky brakes and the mechanic loses a client. The mechanic wants to take his wife out to a nice dinner so instead of supporting a locally owned restaurant, he may be forced to choose a cheaper chain. Now more money leaves the local economy!

In order for our economy to strive and for those around us to succeed and live a healthy life, it is essential that we all make efforts to think globally and buy locally, and support small business. My wife and I were driving the other day when we spotted a little lemonade stand on the corner of Main Street and 34th Avenue. We literally altered our route to turn around a help support a ten year old boy’s small business! And the cycle begins, because that toonie we gave him will likely go to the local corner store on 33rd Avenue to buy some candy 🙂

 

Why We Love the Dog Industry

family

Okay, two blogs in one week! Either I’m feeling productive or our shop is slow. Well it was definitely  a busy day so I guess I have the caffeine pumping.

I open the doors here at Dharma Dog at 7:45am. Usually half asleep and coffee in hand I’ll put out our sandwich board facing 57th Avenue, turn on the lights and neon open sign, and finally  get ready for the day ahead of me.

The job may appear fairly simple to the naked eye; you get to play with dogs all day! Not quite. As my clients already know we offer dog daycare, dog grooming, and boarding services. Our clients entrust us with one of if not their most prized and loved companions. It’s a huge responsibility.

Although the job isn’t simple, our goal at Dharma Dog is. We want to create a welcoming environment, built on the foundation of quality service, top grooming skills, and trust.

It’s funny, as I’m sure many companies will list their philosophy in order to attract new clients and perhaps many truly mean what they say. I can only speak for ourselves, and we really truly want all of our customers to be happy with their experience at Dharma Dog.

When a client is unhappy with our service we really take it to heart. I guess that happens when you’re giving it all you’ve got. I’ve actually lost sleep when a client has been unsatisfied because I literally tried everything to appease the situation. Luckily we resolved the issue and it all came down to a miscommunication… isn’t that often the case?

Now, on the flip side of things, you wouldn’t believe how genuinely happy we are when a client leaves satisfied! There are many high fives behind the scene after a client’s left our premises because they gave us a compliment or left with a smile on their face.

We love getting to know everyone and their dogs. Not only is it essential to get to know and understand each dog and their individual personality in order to create as peaceful a daycare environment as possible, but it is also a pleasure to watch dogs develop socially. We often will see dogs who are initially timid quickly develop into fun-loving playful trouble makers 😉

We love seeing our customers walk away after learning something new about their dog, or learning a new health tip. It feels great being able to really help someone out. Oh yea, I am always available for advice during business hours 🙂

Throughout the work day I am a host, a receptionist, a janitor (ewww), an accountant, a marketing executive, a dog behaviourist, a handy man, a computer technician, a sales rep, a scheduling coordinator, a manager, a troubleshooter, a friend, and ally, a sounding board, and a dog chew toy! I’m sure that I left some of the duties out.

The dogs’ owners will stagger in at the end of their individual work days between 2:00pm and 6:45pm and one by one I’ll say hello and goodbye. After all of this, I begin my breakdown of the shop. Sandwich board in. Shop vacuumed, floors cleaned and disinfected, cash out and counted, and finally turn off all of the electronics.

I will usually do a quality check after all of these stages and if everything looks good I can turn off all of the lights and lock up.

As soon as the door is locked I leave the Dharma Dog world behind me and put on my husband and dad hat.

It’s a long day at our little shop, but I always leave happy. Just not as happy as when I get home to see my wife Joanne and son Miles 😉

Dog Grooming in Vancouver

I felt like writing a more personal blog today. Maybe giving our readers some insight to what goes on behind the scenes at a new dog grooming shop.

When we decided to open Dharma Dog Daycare and Grooming, it was merely a pipe dream.

I had a successful dog training  business and Joanne was working full-time in the business development center at a car dealership and teaching piano on the side.  We were busy. Very busy.

We then found out we were expecting a baby! That was definitely the best news! After much thought and soul-searching we decided that it would be best to sell my dog training business and start anew. I wanted a job/business that allowed me to leave my work at home, and as most dog trainers will tell you that cell phone doesn’t stop ringing just because you’re not training. There are constant emails, and phone calls, some very happy, some very unhappy, and that ultimately leads to a lot of stress.Believe me when I say this, dog training is up to the owner! However, many people could not seem to grasp this concept and seemed to only practice while I was with them. I found this to be rather frustrating and given my medical history I needed a less stressful career.

We sat down and really began conceptualizing our business. So we would work full-time, come home and work on our business. Day in and day out.  Now remember, Joanne was pregnant at this point. She has the greatest work ethic, and at times had to be reminded to slow down.

After finishing our planning we began the process of looking for a location. It was a frustrating experience as we felt that property managers or building owners didn’t take us as seriously due to our age. We finally found a building that we really liked and made a very serious bid for it. First week went by. Two weeks went by. Three weeks went by. Finally, a counter offer! Ouch, it was not what were hoping for.

I was really disheartened and felt like this was going to continue to be an uphill climb.

Meanwhile, Joanne continued to tell me how smelly Vegas (see pic below) was getting. I continued to balk at her and deny it completely. “He smells like a dog, silly ” was often my reply… or “he smells like roses” … this went on for a few weeks during the location search process.  Eventually, I came home to what smelled like a mix of wet dog, rotten vegetables, and dirt…It was time for Vegas to see the groomer.

We went to a local hole in the wall groom shop. Nothing fancy, in fact I disliked taking Vegas to most shops as I found them to be unorganized, loud and smelly. I preferred giving him baths at home. However, I needed to call in the big guns for this smelly dog.

While at the groomers to pick up my stressed out and tired dog, the groomer and I started to chat about the difficulties I was having finding a location. She nudged me with her elbow playfully and mentioned, “I have a second location….”

“What?! Where? How? Really?” Was my response. She began to tell me how she wasn’t able to run the second location and it ultimately was falling apart.

I was introduced to a smelly, run down little grooming shop. Now most people would have ran away. Not me. I saw the beauty and potential in the space. I shook some hands, signed a cheque, and got to renovating the very next day! This was around February 2013. One month later, we opened on the most progressive day of the year, March 4th!  We turned a rundown smelly little shop into our pride and joy: Dharma Dog Daycare & Grooming!

There is still some stress, but I think that comes with opening a new business, having a baby, getting married, and buying a house all in the same year.. but I wouldn’t change it for the world 🙂Image