LANCASTER — It’s rare that a career in business leads to owning a successful dog training business, but that’s exactly what happened for friends Nikki Cupp, Beth Britt and Emily Saving.
Cupp, Britt and Saving have known each other for years, Britt and Saving are sisters and Cupp was a colleague of Britt. Each with a background in sales and marketing, the three friends set up a capital company, Fuse Capital Group, to acquire their own business. Their only stipulation was that it had to be centered on one thing: pets.
“We’re all pet owners and lovers, of course, and we wanted to change our career trajectories to include something we love so much like pets,” Britt said.
Shortly after business associates began looking at business listings in central Ohio, Terry Cook, owner of dog training establishment, Top Dog, put his business up for sale. After visiting the facility for the first time, Britt, Cupp and Saving said they felt it was the right company for them.
Once they purchased Top Dog, Cook stayed behind to help the new owners learn more about what it would take to run a successful dog training business. Britt said while she, Cupp and Saving were confident in their ability to run a small business, they were less confident in their ability to train dogs.
Despite Top Dog’s staff staying on, Britt, Cupp and Saving said they wanted to make sure they understood the dog training process they would offer future clients. Whether it’s walking the dogs, cleaning the kennels, or learning the training drills, the new owners have done it all.
“A lot of the first few months were spent working with the care team, learning to be dog trainers, working in the sales office (and) working as a planner so we could not just optimizing processes, but also increasing customer satisfaction and ultimately developing that basic empathy that I think small business owners need,” Saving said.
After a smooth ownership transition and name change, Canine Academy has been successfully training and housing dogs since December 2021, and owners believe the business will continue to improve and thrive.
Canine Academy, located at 332 Mt. Zion Road, offers two products for dog owners who want to work on their dog’s obedience skills, Basic Obedience and Publicly Accessible Obedience. The basic obedience product teaches dogs simple commands while the public access product teaches commands and how to behave around other people and dogs in public.
Once the desired product has been chosen, dog parents can choose one of three programs which vary according to the desired length of stay at the Canine Academy.
During training, Canine Academy trainers use electronic collar positive reinforcement training. Instead of using the electronic collar to shock the dog when it does something wrong, electronic stimulation is used at low levels to get the dog’s attention. When dogs perform desirable behavior, they are rewarded with treats, toys, and words of praise.
“The moment your dog leaves, we guarantee…the behaviors they’re going to perform,” Saving said. “(What) sets us apart from our competition is that we’re willing to put in writing what your dog will be able to do and we’re willing to hold ourselves accountable.”
In addition to offering quality training programs, Canine Academy also organizes group classes every Saturday for graduates and their owners. In group classes, dogs and owners can brush up on their skills and learn more advanced commands, Saving said.
In keeping with the Canine Academy theme, past clients can also schedule office hours with the trainers to review previous lessons and ask questions about their dog’s ongoing training.
“What we teach should last a lifetime as long as the owner remains qualified; we give dogs the muscle memory to do what they should be doing for the rest of their lives,” Saving said. “We really want to respect the quality of our product, and we believe that often minor adjustments…can bring the dog back up to our level.”
As Britt, Cupp and Saving continue to tone their leadership styles and create the reputation they want Canine Academy to carry, they said they were grateful to be able to experience the experience together.
“On the toughest days, when you doubt yourself, I can definitely look at my partners and say I’ll invest in them every day,” Britt said. “If they’re willing to invest in me too, then we have to be on to something.”
To learn more about the training services offered by the Canine Academy, visit their website or call 614-706-1828.