Women are making enormous impacts across the pet care industry. From manufacturing, to innovating new products, to sharing dog training information around the globe, these women are proving to be powerful leaders. Three women in particular are shaking up the dog training industry and supporting thousands of pet dog owners both in the United States and internationally.
Access to quality dog training information has never been easier. However, with dog training being an unregulated industry, determining the professional from the hobbyist can be a challenge. I had the opportunity to interview three professional dog trainers building community and sharing information through their Youtube Channels, Facebook Groups and Podcasts.
Professional dog trainer, and creator of the “Drinking from the Toilet” podcast, Hannah Brannigan shares “one of my favorite ways to learn and grow as a trainer and instructor is through attending conferences. But, as anyone who has attended a training conference knows, so much of the really good stuff is what happens in the conversations at the hotel bar after the program… I was inspired to start the podcast both because I wanted to make those conversations available to as many people as possible, whether they can get to a conference in person or not. And also, selfishly, because I wanted an excuse to continue having those conversations all year long.”
Brannigan’s podcast delves into meaty conversations about the nerdy aspects of dog training. She has always wanted her podcast to be authentic, unedited and honest, sharing both the highs and lows of dog training. Her goal with the podcast is to “provide empathy, entertainment, and also practical information. So that trainers feel less alone, and hopefully, armed with the information so that there will be fewer of those crappy training sessions in the future.”
Producing new content on a regular basis is no easy feat, but the feedback for Brannigan has been positive.
“I’ve gotten emails and messages from listeners saying they heard something on the podcast that inspired them to think about a problem or concept in a new way,” she explains. “I love hearing that because I really think that’s how we drive the industry forward.”
While podcasting is seeing a major revival, Youtube has been a steadily increasing resource for new educational content.
Emily Larlham created her Youtube channel, Kikopup, more than a decade ago. With over 400 videos, she has one of the most extensive library of positive reinforcement based dog training tutorials. She’s dedicated “free time answering comments and messages of people reaching out for help with their dogs.”
Because of that engagement, her channel has continued to grow in popularity as it reaches more people interested in her message.
“It really reaffirmed my belief that if you are truly passionate about your life’s work you can make a career from it,” Larlham shares. She also believes by “putting out free training tutorials that don’t involve any forms of physical or psychological intimidation, it will not only effect how people treat animals but also how people treat other human beings. Learning and practicing compassion to animals and humans alike is a great way to create meaning, happiness and joy in one’s own life.”
Perhaps the newest form of social media to offer educational materials is that of Facebook Groups. Susanne Shelton is both a breeder and professional dog trainer. At the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic she found herself placing two puppies in their forever homes, and raising a puppy of her own. She created the Pandemic Puppy Raising Support Group on Facebook to have a “way to brainstorm and share tips and ideas for socializing [her] puppy, and [her] friend’s puppies, during this time of unique challenges.”
It may not come as a surprise now to know that so many people reached out for a puppy or a dog as a source of comfort during what has been a difficult time for many. As such, this group has grown to more than ten thousand members. Aside from supporting new puppy owners through a global pandemic, they are effecting real change in the dog training industry.
“Because of the nature of the group, we can easily highlight the important work being done by our professional admins, while modeling for our members what professional conduct and best practices look like,” Shelton states. “The group messaging around professional training is clear and consistent, our field is a profession. Skill, education, and credentials matter, and working with a qualified professional is the best path to success.”
These trainers are doing their part in driving the industry forward. Utilizing social media platforms for new and experienced dog owners alike to connect with and learn from each other has proven to be of immense benefit during a time where in-person conference and training opportunities are few and far between.