Tag Archives: pet business

Niki Tudge’s Passion for Animals Leads Her to Find Love and Money

By Stephanie Castellano
January 16th 2009

In spite of the nation’s financial turmoil, the pet industry these days is thriving. With experts projecting an annual growth rate of between 10 percent and 15 percent in pet ownership, and predicting billions of dollars to be spent on care and training, all pet entrepreneurs need is a little doggedness to succeed.

Nikki Tudge is the executive director of the Bay County Humane Society.
Niki Tudge, originally from Cheshire, England, was working for a luxury hotel chain in Hawaii until she decided instead to carve a living out of her passion for animals. She was already working part time doing agility training and canine-behavioral assessments, so her goal became to improve pet-owner relationships using methods she had developed during her years as a certified Pet Dog Trainer. She and her husband bought some property in Washington County near Bonifay and founded the DogSmith, a dog-training and walking franchise that also offers in-home pet care.

Tudge is currently the executive director of the Bay County Humane Society and the vice president and o-founder of the Alaqua Animal Refuge in Freeport. She also operates a Pet Butler franchise, and in 2007 won the Franchisee of the Year Award for developing a system that perfected the merchandise warehouse operation.

850 recently spoke with Tudge about her businesses and how she is one of the lucky few that found both love and money in her lifework.

What do you think makes The DogSmith stand out from other pet training facilities?

Our DogSmith Franchise Owners are trained using methods grounded in scientific learning principles. As a certified people Trainer I have the skills to ensure that all our DogSmith Franchise owners are trained ?effectively and are also certified as “Train the Trainers” – having the skills to teach owners to train their dogs. We are not just good dog? trainers, but effective people trainers. We also have a unique mission, vision, and value system that we focus on every day. Dog Training? and Pet Care is our passion, not just our business, and as such each business? unit gives back hundreds of hours each year to their local animal rescue organizations.

How do you think the pet industry will fare, given the current economic situation?

Pets are part of our families. Pet owners want the? best in terms of pet care service providers. They want to engage the? services of pet care providers that care for their animals’ physical, mental, ?and emotional well-being, be it a dog trainer or an in-home Pet Care?Technician. People work long hours, travel on business, and will continue to ?take weekends away to visit family and friends even in a poor economic ?climate. Pet owners will continue to call on the services of their local ?DogSmith because they trust us to provide affordable pet care.

How did you earn the nomination from Pet Butler for the 2007 Franchisee of the Year Award?

I offered support and coaching for less-experienced business? owners. My business partner and I also invested $70,000 into a fulfillment ?company specifically set up to support the individual franchise business ?units. Through this new company each franchise benefited from bulk? purchasing on operating equipment, marketing supplies and uniforms. This ?immediately reduced the business unit operating costs and instantaneously ?increased their profitability.

When did you decide to back out of hotel management and make pet care and training into a career?

When I was living in Hawaii I finally had time to own a pet, and I really enjoyed training her. I also co-founded the Hawaii Canine Academy with a good friend, and wanted to spend all my time doing this. My husband came home one day and I told him, “I’ve made some life changes.” I had found the perfect property in Washington County, so we moved to Florida four months later and never looked back. I never expected much financial success, but now I’m making more money than I did when I worked in hotels. Many paid professionals these days are leaving their desk jobs for careers they’re more passionate about, and they end up being very successful doing what they love. It frees you of the corporate chains.

To learn more about becoming a DogSmith Dog Training and Pet Care Franchise Owner take The DogSmith Franchise Tour. Watch our short DogSmith webcast here and learn more about this great business opportunity

You + Your Love of Animals + The DogSmith = The Perfect Career!

You + Your Love of Animals + The DogSmith = The Perfect Career!
Turn Your Love of Dogs into a Rewarding Lifestyle!

The DogSmith® Dog Training and Pet Care Franchise is the only full-service pet care company in the US.

  • No experience necessary
  • Low investment, low risk, high payoff
  • Get paid to do what you love
  • A fun, flexible lifestyle working with animals
  • Give back to your community every day
  • Build wealth by investing in your own business

Claim Your DogSmith Territory Now!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Top Twenty Reasons You’ll Love Being a DogSmith




Bring your love of dogs & cats, strong communication skills and desire to succeed in your own business with a flexible work schedule to a FREE DogSmith phone consultation or FREE DogSmith webinar.  Learn more about how you can become a dog training professional.

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Martha Stewart – Let’s learn more about dog communication

Martha Stewart wound up in the hospital Tuesday night with a split lip requiring plastic surgery, courtesy of a head-butt from her dog Francesca that came as the domestic diva was whispering goodbye to the dozing French bulldog.

“I must have startled her,” Stewart wrote Thursday, “because she bolted upright with such force that she hit me in the face like a boxing glove hitting an opponent’s face.” Read the entire article here

If we all took the time to learn more about how dogs communicate their would be fewer accidents in our homes due to misunderstandings in  communication.

Here is an article we wrote in late 2009 for The New Barker Magazine on just this topic.

All behaviors that dogs exhibit are designed to either access pleasurable situations or avoid and escape unpleasant situations.  A dog’s communication systems are much ritualized and designed to avoid or cutoff conflict. This has made dogs as a species very successful in terms of their numbers and their variety. Things go awry when we humans misread the signals dogs send us leaving them helpless to effectively communicate their feelings to us. We cannot know or understand what dogs think and vice-versa. What we can do is understand canine body language, observe them as we interact with them and then respond appropriately.  ‘Talking dog’ is simple if you remember a few important rules and it will make interacting with dogs fun and safe.  The dogs you come into contact with will really appreciate it.

The types of social behaviors dogs demonstrate can be broadly grouped into either distance decreasing or distance increasing.  A dog uses distance decreasing behaviors to promote approach, play and continued interaction.   A lumbering soft gait, relaxed body and a relaxed face indicate the dog is encouraging interaction. Dogs who want to engage in play will demonstrate the ‘play bow,’ a posture where the dog bows the front of his/her body so that the front legs are parallel to the ground while the hindquarters remain in the standing position, the dog may offer you a paw, lean into you or rub against you.

Distance increasing signals vary and can be easily misread. The distance increasing signals we all seem to ‘get’ are when a dog stands upright making  each part of their body appear as large as possible, weight on the front legs, upright tail, upright ears, piloerection (the hair on their back stands up), and the dog will bark or growl. We seem to instinctively react to these signals and take them as the warning they are.

The distance increasing signals that we commonly misinterpret are the more appeasing behaviors dogs demonstrate.  Dogs use these appeasement behaviors to make friendly encounters more reliable and to help them pacify what they anticipate to be a hostile encounter if escape is impossible for them. These behaviors are a nonaggressive way to ‘cut off’ conflict. When a dog displays these behaviors we have to recognize that this is the dog’s way of showing us that they are unsure and a little scared.

You may see appeasement signals in one of two ways.  Passive appeasement behaviors are easily misunderstood and are often labeled as ‘submissive.’  Dogs displaying passive appeasement will present themselves in a recumbent position exposing the underside of their body.  The dog’s ears are typically back and down against the head and the tail is often tucked between the upper legs.  Sometimes the dog will expel a small amount of urine while it waits for the attention to cease. The active appeasement dog is often incorrectly labeled as ‘excited’ or ‘overly friendly.’  They will often approach you with the whole rear-end wagging in a “U” shape allowing both its face and genital area to be inspected and they may be desperate to jump up and ‘get in your face’.

For humans then, it is important when meeting and greeting dogs to be able to recognize if a dog is friendly and wanting to greet you or if the dog is experiencing stress or fear. A conflicted dog will want to approach but is too scared or unsure of the outcome. Their body language will vacillate between displays of distance decreasing behaviors and distance increasing behaviors. Interacting with a dog that is conflicted can be risky. If you make a wrong move and the dog cannot avoid the approach then they may become aggressive.  This is often the case with a fear biter.  If a dog is demonstrating ambivalent, mixed signals then it is advisable to avoid sudden movements, and to allow the dog an escape route. Don’t force the meet and greet by moving toward the dog or having the dogs’ owner manipulate the dog toward you.

In general when you meet and greet a dog make sure you have a relaxed posture. Let the dog approach you, turn slightly to the side as this is less threatening for the dog than you standing in a full frontal position leaning over them.  Always ask permission from the dog’s owner to pet their dog. Talk gently to the dog without making eye contact.  It helps to crouch down and keep your hands by your side without making any sudden movements. When you have determined the dog is not showing any signs of stress or fear and their body language is relaxed and happy then you can slowly move your hand under their chin to stroke them. If the dog is showing passive appeasement signals, as described above, then step away, give them space and allow them to approach you on their terms and in their preferred timing.

It is important that we recognize a dog’s “cut off’ behaviors.  ‘Cut off’ behaviors are designed to cut off the social contact. If, when greeting a dog, you don’t recognize that the dog is  scared or stressed or you choose to ignore the dog’s communication and push forward with your approach you  are unfairly pushing the dog into a situation where it may only be left with one option and not a favorable option to either dog or human.

Dogs will typically give plenty of warning if they are uncomfortable with something that another dog or a person is doing.   These warning signs may include a direct stare, a rigid body, a growl and showing “whale eye” (flashing the whites of their eyes). The dog’s ears will be flat against the head and they may have a closed tense mouth, if you see any of these signals then stop what you are doing immediately and allow the dog to slowly back away.

Dogs are wonderful animals that love and need to be a part of our social lives.  But, like people, their personalities range from being social butterflies to wallflowers. Tailor your approach and greeting style based on the communication they are giving you. Dogs are very clear with their intentions and emotions and respond appropriately to ours.  Remember our body language and approach speaks louder than our words to a dog.

Niki Tudge First Serial Rights 2010

Learn more about how to Talk Dog professionally and open your own pet business opportunity

Four Reasons To Become a Pet Industry Entrepreneur

If you have reached the stage in your career where you’re earning a comfortable living as an executive or someone with skills honed over many years in business. Its time to open your own business and benefit directly from your own skills, passion and effort.

Here are four reasons why starting a business may better serve your long-term financial goals:

  • Experience – Few companies hire at a senior level and expect people to come aboard in an entry- or mid-level role. In your own business, you’re immediately at the top of the heap, both in earning power and in the decision-making process.
  • Location – The job you want may not exist in the city where you live, which either forces you to relocate or else downgrade your desires. Starting a business allows you to work wherever you wish.
  • Security – While it’s true that new businesses can fail, there are no guarantees these days that a 50-year-old company will still exist next year, either. By starting a business, at least you have it within your personal power to be successful. If you’re just another cog in the wheel, most of your own financial future is in the hands of others.
  • Personality – The corporate world forces people to conform to a particular mindset. Not all of us are cut out to operate in this manner, but having a maverick-type personality is oftentimes a dead-ender when working for others. This is, however, the exact trait that makes a terrific entrepreneur.

Learn about a great pet business opportunity.

Read more about The DogSmith and the services we provide to our clients


The DogSmith Economic Stimulus Package!

While Congress debates a Small Business Stimulus Bill, The DogSmith Dog Training and Pet Care Franchise passes its own.

Washington County, Fl, September 20, 2010 – While congressional debate over another controversial government program delays passage of  broadly supported legislation which will provide relief to small businesses, The DogSmith National Franchise has passed its own program to make it quicker and easier for entrepreneurs to launch their own DogSmith Dog Training & Pet Care Business in the booming pet industry.

U.S. small businesses, such as The DogSmith, produce more services than large corporations produce, employ more people in total and are faster and more effective at creating new jobs.  In fact, small businesses account for more than half of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product and for the past two decades, they have created almost all of the new jobs in America.  Niki Tudge, small business entrepreneur and founder of the DogSmith says, “As a DogSmith business owner, you are your own boss and our business model provides the opportunity for multiple streams of income while giving back to our communities through active involvement with animal rescue shelters and groups.  We are redefining what it means to own your own business in a sustainable, socially conscious and eco-friendly way.”

The pet industry has proved to be surprisingly resilient during economic recessions.  Americans own over 38 million cats and 45 million dogs and the number is increasing every year.  More than 60% of households now have pets.  Not only is pet ownership increasing but owners are also spending more on their pets.  Tudge says, “Investing in yourself is the best means to control your destiny in these uncertain economic times, and a DogSmith Dog Training & Pet Care Franchise is the best way to go into business for yourself without having to do it by yourself.”

To learn more about the government’s economic stimulus legislation visit Recovery.gov  If you would like to learn more about The DogSmith stimulus program contact  www.DogSmithFranchise.com.



About The DogSmith – The DogSmith Franchise Services Inc. is a Florida based company whose mission is to enhance the lives of pets and their owners by improving their relationship, and the quality of the life they share, through providing professional support and training to pet dog owners, supporting and assisting animal shelters and rescue organizations to minimize the number of unwanted animals and offering affordable and professional care to family pets so that pet ownership is never a burden. To learn more about The DogSmith or to become a DogSmith Dog Trainer, visit www.DogSmithFranchise.com or call 1-888-364-7648.

Top 20 Reasons You will Love Being a DogSmith Pet Business Owner

The Top 20 Reasons Our Franchise Owners Love Being DogSmith Certified Dog Trainers & Pet Care Business Owners

  1. I’ve always known that in order to succeed in achieving my dreams that I would need a mentor. I have that with the DogSmith.
  2. Helping local Animal Shelters place dogs in appropriate homes so they will not be returned to shelter life.
  3. I like the aspect of being able to educate people about dogs and hopefully keep dogs out of shelters and in their homes where everyone can enjoy the wonderfulness of being dog owners and the joy it brings.
  4. I have freedom from the corporate world.
  5. As a DogSmith I can have an impact on the quality of life/relationship of the dog and owner.
  6. Being a business owner keeps my mind stimulated, I’m always learning and growing.
  7. I have the ability to create an atmosphere where a dog actually enjoys learning.
  8. I love the experience of the exact moment when a dog understands what it is you are asking him to do (The “light bulb” moment).
  9. I have always enjoyed working in public service. The DogSmith creates a feasible balance between being profitable and changing things for the better in my local community.
  10. It motivates me thinking about my day and how I can be managing a marketing program and then doing a behavioral consultation with a client and then supervising one of my Pet Care Technicians.
  11. All my hard work and effort generates a lifestyle that I directly benefit from, financially and emotionally.
  12. I love teaching owners the skills needed for their dogs to understand them.
  13. I love when owners realize that dog training is easy and fun.
  14. I always feel so very proud to see clients and their dogs out in public, enjoying themselves.
  15. I love everything about being a DogSmith business owner, each day is unique and I love the clients, two legged and four legged, that I get to work with.
  16. I enjoy not having to commute to a job and being able to spend more time with my own dogs and my family.
  17. Without the continual support, training and daily contact I have with the people at the DogSmith Headquarters, I would not be where I am today. I owe the success and continual success of my business to them.
  18. I am very proud of being a DogSmith, because I feel that I am part of a professional, knowledgeable, caring team of individuals who are at the forefront of our business.
  19. I love the freedom of owning my own business and never having that terrible “MONDAY Morning feeling” of having to drag myself out of bed to go to my J.O.B.
  20. I love the opportunity to create jobs in my community, supporting other small businesses and supporting our local economy.

Being a Dog Trainer versus Being a Pet Care Business Owner

If you want to be a dog trainer go to a college, if you want to be a pet care business owner then talk to The DogSmith. The DogSmith is a complete business in a box. Yes we believe we have the best dog training program but we also offer so much more. Finance Training, an effective and affordable marketing program, vendor agreements, 4 business models under one company name and much more.

Visit www.DogSmithFranchise.com and watch a short webcast. Call us, no obligation. Niki Tudge 1-888-Dog-Smith (364-7648)

Citizen Petition to the FDA – by Susan Thixton

Citizen Petition to the FDA

  • Written By: Susan Thixton
  • 7-22-2010
  • Categorized in: Pet Food Regulations

The official first step towards challenging the FDA allowing diseased animals, euthanized animals, and other horrors into pet food and treats is a Citizen Petition.  If you would like to be part of changing the future of pet food, here is your opportunity.

This is something that I believe should have been done a long time ago.  Watching the hidden camera video of the rendering plant has motivated me into action.  (By the way, I have learned the video was filmed by Last Chance for Animals in May 2007 at a southern California rendering plant.)

The short story is that the FDA allows the pet food industry to violate Federal law.  While not all pet food manufacturers use horrendous illegal pet food/treat ingredients, some do.  An FDA Compliance Policy tells the industry that those who wish to rob the bank, they will not be prosecuted.  The laws are written, in place, but the FDA does not enforce them.  This must stop.

The beginning to the end of euthanized animals or diseased USDA rejected animals processed into pet foods and treats is the Citizen Petition.  “Background:  An interested person may petition the Commissioner to issue, amend, or revoke a regulation or order, or to take or refrain from taking any other form of administrative action.” Granted, it seems ridiculous to petition the FDA requesting the Commissioner to enforce the very laws their organization is designed to enforce, but…it’s what we have to do.  I am cautious of getting anyone’s hopes up, however unless we try it is certain that nothing will change.