Beyond Doggy Daycare: Day 1 Recap

Phew, yesterday was a big day for Team Doglando! We kicked off our inaugural seminar for dog day care owners and operators, Beyond Doggy Day Care. Seven dog day care owners and operators from around the country (and world!) joined us to learn all about Doglando’s enrichment-based model.

Clearly, we all came into this with a love for dogs and their well-being. But, as we tend to do here, diving in a bit deeper to really get to know each other was the first order of business. The day began with a game of “Me too!” where everyone got a bit vulnerable and shared stories about their lives and their businesses.

We are not a rehearsed, theatrical play. This is a real operation.

We probably could have connected all day! But, we’ll be covering a lot of information over the next six days, so we dove right in by talking about the Doglando model and what that means. There was one big thing I wanted everyone to remember: What they’re seeing here at Doglando is real-life as it unfolds, no dress rehearsals.

The first big event of the day was a tour around Campus – attendees experienced what it might feel like for a potential new client visiting for the first time while learning more about exactly how daily life works around here.

Exploring Doglando’s environment

This exploration of the environment brought us into the main yard while the dogs were out playing. As I explained various components of the Doglando setup to everyone, they were able to see the the philosophy of enrichment in action. As we walked, we talked about the reasoning behind things in the environment (remember, everything has a purpose!). Sand was recognized as feeling pleasant under paws, a great place for digging behavior, and as a material that’s cooling in our hot Florida temperatures.

And, it’s worth noting that seeing enrichment in action is completely different than reading about it, or even watching videos. We observed two dogs in particular for a moment: Reddington, a Belgian Malinois, and Mia, a young German Shepherd. I often talk about the critical importance of space. All dogs need space, but the need is even clearer when you see how these types of dogs move around. We looked at gait, how each dog pivoted in a large circle when turning around, and other characteristics of their movement. Watching these two run and play truly demonstrated the importance of space in a canine enrichment center.

Company Culture with Dr. Iris Rivera

We ventured back into the barn for more quality discussions. Today’s big topic was Company Culture with Dr. Iris Rivera (who’s also a proud member of the Doglando community alongside her husband and Shiba Inu, Calypso). Alongside her professional expertise, Iris also brought an incredibly valuable perspective to attendees – that of a client!

Wasting no time, the crew dove right into talking about and creating their mission statements, defining the type of company culture they want, and so much more. I won’t go into those details too much, but here’s something for business owners of any kind to think about:

Why is company culture important?

Your company culture influences every single thing you do, from daily operations to hiring and everything in between. So many businesses skip the process of verbalizing these things in the beginning, and it makes operating effectively incredibly difficult.

For example, Iris asked attendees to describe how their physical space looks, because a facility’s appearance is part of its culture (Iris used the term “artifacts”). As people started listing off characteristics of their environment I immediately recognized them as antecedents. An antecedent situation is the universe as it stands prior to an interaction.

Notice the connection there? We were talking about artifacts as part of culture, but we were also talking about the things that make up our environments, which flows directly into discussions about the behaviors our environments elicit.

Learning 101 and Training New Hires to Succeed

Sounds like a pretty full day, right? … But we still had more to cover! Afternoon talks included Learning 101 and how to train new hires to succeed as effective team members. We observed the chickens (or as we all like to call them, ‘the girls’) while discussing how learning works (if you want a brief refresher, be sure to read What is Learning?).

My favorite part of our discussion about new hires and staff was that we were able to watch Team Doglando in action. Doglando absolutely wouldn’t be what it is today without this hard working, dedicated team.

One of the first things I said to our BDDC group this morning is:

Whatever you do, do it for the people first, especially staff and clients. This attitude will naturally benefit the dogs, because when we invest in relationships and behavioral wellness, everyone wins.

Here’s something else I shared with everyone today: Having a dialogue is not a conflict! With that in mind, let’s keep the conversation going.

Do you have any questions, comments, or thoughts about the things we’re covering in BDDC? If you’re so inclined, here’s some more food for thought: If you had to give your business OR yourself a vision statement (your big goal, your reason for existence) what would it be? Please, share it with everyone in the comments – let’s inspire each other!