For anyone who has recently (or even not-so-recently) added a four-legged member to their family, you don't want to miss this next Member Minute profile. As the only board-certified dog behavior consultant in the state, Kathrine Christ's (Owner of Hands Full Dog Training) passion and compassion for her clients is ever apparent. If your family is struggling with your pet dog's behavior or just need advice on how to introduce your pet to a new child, Kathrine and her team are here to help.
Please tell us a little bit about your company.
Our company may look like it’s about dogs, but it’s about families. We are here to serve pet owners in Wichita and help them when the struggles of having a companion dog are starting to crowd out the joy. We employ full-time, professional trainers with formal education in the field of behavior and internationally recognized credentials. Our trainers teach group obedience classes for puppies and adult dogs, in-home private training lessons for obedience or for serious behavior problems like aggression, and latchkey sessions, where they will train your dog for you in your own home while you’re out. We have a specialty focus on helping families with children and dogs, and we love helping families safely integrate babies and toddlers with their family pets.
What about your organization are you most passionate?
We love all our clients, but we are most passionate about helping families. Our classes are welcoming to children, and we love working with kids one on one, too. I am also a licensed Family Paws Parent Educator with special training in raising babies and toddlers alongside companion dogs.
Where do you see your organization in five years?
We plan to stay local and continue our focus on families with companion dogs, but with an expanded team of top quality practitioners so we can address the overwhelming level of need – there are so many wonderful, caring people out there who need help with serious problems, and right now I’m the only board-certified dog behavior consultant not only in our organization, but in the state! Yikes! On the same note, I would also like to be able to offer scholarship programs for those who can’t afford our services and are faced with life-altering behavior problems.
Why did you join the Chamber?
We joined the Chamber because our particular industry lacks formal regulation or professionalization and we firmly believe it is important to opt-in to higher standards. Many dog trainers are either hobbyists, self-taught, or use outdated training techniques that are no longer industry best practices. We want to stand out as professionals. Becoming part of a larger business community, learning from others, and constantly improving our business practices are all important company goals.
What is the best thing about working with businesses in the Wichita area?
I have only encountered support and kindness from other small business owners in Wichita. These people wrap their entire lives around a dream and sacrifice so much to make it a reality, but are still willing to put themselves at risk to lift a new company up. Heartland Animal Hospital, where we hold classes, took a chance on us despite not having a previous relationship with us. They even turned down our rent check one month early on and asked us to use it on marketing so that we could grow and be successful. I have nothing but good things to say about them, the other vet clinics we have partnered with, and the other local pet businesses who support us. I wish I could list them all!
Describe a recent success/win.
We were recently nominated for the Chamber’s 2019 Small Business Awards program. It means so much to me that someone outside of our company has noticed all our hard work and thinks it’s worth recognition. This profession takes physical labor, is mentally taxing, and requires a huge amount of empathy and caring that we pour out for our clients on a daily basis. When someone outside our line of work says, “Hey, I see what you do, and it’s valuable and worthy,” it is very meaningful.
What is something people may not know about you or your organization?
We employ my mini Aussie, Piper, as a PR consultant. She gets paid in kibble, so it works well. Piper writes a column for our quarterly Tail Waggers newsletter. AND she has competitive obedience titles, all earned by using positive reinforcement training techniques. She’s multi-talented!
To what do you attribute your success?
My initial instinct was to re-iterate my wonderful support network, but I think it goes deeper than that. I believe we have received the support we have because of how we live out our company’s core values. Pet dog training was once a very strict and unkind profession based on military dog training techniques passed down over the years. Our core values of compassion, gentleness and science allow us to demonstrate client-centered, humane training that is effective because it is based on scientific principles. Maybe it should not be shocking that there is a big market for people who want to be treated nicely, want their dog to be treated nicely, and want results, too! That’s what we do.
Do you have an upcoming event/program or product launch that might interest our members?
Our manners classes have been so popular that we are currently writing a Family Dog II curriculum to allow dogs to progress through intermediate manners. We hope this unlocks even greater enjoyment of owners’ pet dogs and we are hoping to roll this out in summer 2019. There is still time to take the Family Dog I class before then, so we hope to see some Chamber members join the family this spring!
Is your company involved in any community/civic activities?
Yes, it’s so important for us that our business plan dedicates a portion of our resources to the Wichita community. Our trainers hold dog and child safety programs around town and have spoken at other community events. We support Wichita Animal Action League (WAAL) with behavior expertise for their foster dogs and hold low-cost basic training classes for Caring Hands Humane Society in Newton. My company is also the founding member of the Pet Professional Alliance of Wichita, a local business network for pet service companies who meet standards of humane care and promote the professionalization of the industry.
Other Chamber members you have partnered/worked with?
We purchased doggy bandanas from Chadd Marketing. They are such good quality and everyone loves them! We recommend Chuck & Don's Pet Food & Supplies (formerly All Paws Pet Center) to all our clients for puppy socialization trips. And we hold classes at Heartland Animal Hospital and also partner with The Hairy Sofa, their sister business.