Tag Archives: pet sitting

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

The Dirty Secret Nobody in the Pet Industry Will Tell You!

Being a Great Dog Trainer is Not Enough to Succeed in Your Own Dog Training & Pet Care Business.

History is full of great products and services that failed simply because the business wasn’t operated profitably. To Run Your Dog Training & Pet Care Business Successfully, You Need to Master Business Finances, Manage Employees & Learn How To Market and Deliver Your Dog Training & Pet Care Services to Attract and Retain Customers… The DogSmith will show you how!

When you join The DogSmith® Dog Training & Pet Care Franchise you become part of a dynamic team committed to building a successful brand together.

The DogSmith® Management Team Has a Proven Track Record of Pet Industry Business Management & People Development Combined With Dog Training Expertise.
A Unique Combination!

  • Over 20 Years of Business Management & Customer Service Experience
  • Over 20 Years of Human Resource Development, Coaching & Mentoring
  • Over 12 Years of Dog Training & Dog Behavior Counseling Experience
  • Over 15 Years of Marketing & Financial Management Experience

The DogSmith® Leadership Team Provides You With:

  • One-on-One Pet Industry Business Coaching
  • Business Management Support Calls
  • Marketing Expertise & Accountability Calls
  • Human Resource Management Support
  • Business Finance Training & Support

Check us out for yourself – The DogSmith Dog Training & Pet Care Franchise Has Been Featured in many Publications

New York Times Newspaper September 2006 – Walton Sun Newspaper, Sept 2007 – Panama City News Herald Newspaper June 2007 – The Niceville Advertiser June 2007 – West Hawaii Today October 2002 – Coastal Style Magazine 2007 – 850 Business Magazine 2008 – New Barker Magazine Tampa FL 2010 – Washington Post December 2010

Watch a video: 20 reasons to join

Yes! You CAN leave home without them!

DogSmith Pet Care Services

The DogSmith Pet Care Program Gives You the Flexibility to Care for Your Pet and Reclaim Your Freedom

Yes! You CAN leave home without them!

With the DogSmith’s Pet Care Program you’re never torn between the demands of your job, social life or family and the needs of your pets. Our pet care program is specifically designed to give you the peace of mind that comes from having the best of all worlds. Talk to your local DogSmith to learn more about our services.

Find your local DogSmith by entering your zip code in the location finder above.

Why you should choose The DogSmith – View a comparison chart of pet care services and then request a FREE Home Visit Consultation!

  • All DogSmith service visits are a minimum of 30 minutes.
  • DogSmith Pet Care Technicians are bonded & Insured
  • DogSmith Pet Care Technicians are certified pet care providers and are trained in pet first aid and CPR.

Review our service policies or view the DogSmith Pet Care Brochure. A full list of our services can be found here DogSmith Pet Care Services.

“To be a DogSmith® passion and caring for animals are just not enough. To provide the level of pet care we at The DogSmith expect, pet care providers must be properly trained and certified” Niki Tudge, DogSmith Founder

PAL program

No More Pets At Large™

Call your local DogSmith to request your complimentary home visit consultation. All DogSmith clients receive a unique identification tag. Learn more about our PAL™ Program.

DogSmith Sponsors Beach Cleanup – Jupiter FL

P R E S S    R E L E A S E

JUPITER  –  Friends of Jupiter Beach continue the “clean & dog-friendly beach” campaign with a volunteer cleanup on Saturday, March 6.   This cleanup is co-sponsored by Ocean Magic Surf Shop of Jupiter (www.oceanmagicsurf.com ) the DogSmith, Rachel Williams (www.dogsmith.com )and Sandy Paws Surfer Girl, Maggie Poetz

Volunteers gather at 8am SHARP at the Anita Lankler Pavilion in Ocean Cay Park, off Marcinski Road and US Hwy 1.  They divide into teams, clean the 2 1/2 mile stretch of dog-friendly from Marcinski Road to the south end of Carlin Park, and return by 9:20am for a complimentary continental breakfast.   Some teams walk to the cleanup areas, most teams drive to the designated spots.  Beach cleanups are SHINE ONLY; if weather is iffy, volunteers should call the FJB message line at 561-748-8140 by 7:15am to listen for a possible cancellation message.

School community service hours are awarded for students arriving by 8am.  There is no need for individuals to register in advance but organized groups must leave a message on the FJB phone line, 561 – 748 – 8140.

FJB has been organizing beach cleanups on the first Saturday of the month since 1994.  In 2006, the group began weighing the collected garbage (rather than simply counting the garbage bags), and the cumulative total of trash and recyclables removed from the beach is over 22,000 pounds.


For more information, visit the website at www.FriendsOfJupiterBeach.com.

# # # #

Join us! Beach Cleanups
First Saturday Every Month
8am-10am Ocean Cay Park
Anita Lankler Pavilion
Shine only! 748-8140

What DogSmith Customers Say About Our Service

Are you interested in opening a Dog Training Business and enjoying the benefits of being part of a small team of professional business owners who only offer unrivaled pet care services?

DogSmith’s offer a range of exception pet care services to pet care owners. DogSmith’s are trained proficiently in the use of scientifically proven dog training methods and DogSmith’s have a true understanding of how important your pets are to you.

These are the kind of testimonials DogSmith customers send to local DogSmith business owners.

“A Note of Thanks” to Rachel Williams – “The Dogsmith” Dog Trainer and Pet Care Expert in Jupiter Beach Florida
I have to write to thank you for taking care of my Golden Retriever, Abbey (2 yrs. Old), over a four day weekend while I was busy with my Catering Company.
I did consider boarding Abbey with a local vet. Wow… what a mistake as I thought about it. Being confined in a kennel, maybe exposed to unhealthy animals, and bombarded by multiple handlers, in a hectic business environment that is closed and empty at 6 pm.
What an extreme contrast I found in your care. Abbey was in a family environment, introduced to your home and family pet (Chloe), protected, exercised, loved, and handled by a professional dog TRAINER!!!
I can say with great confidence, that my decision to leave Abbey in your care during a busy time with my business was calming to me and an absolute “adventure” for Abbey.
I was impressed at your level of attention, care, and great communication with me over the time that you were caring for Abbey. It was a bonus to receive phone text msgs. and even a quick photo to keep me informed of what she was doing. The caring service you provided extended beyond the treatment of my puppy. I was impressed with your careful attention to activity, any diet concerns, and importance of making a comfortable environment for Abbey by suggesting her favorite toy and her bed.
Lastly, I appreciate you delivering Abbey to my home at the end of her stay with you… I was amazed that you were thoughtful enough to give her a bath. I actually teach “Customer Service” in the Hospitality Industry and I feel that your level of care far exceeded all my expectations and felt compelled to write this note to recommend your business to anyone that is searching for outstanding care and thoughtful training of their family pet.
John Carlino

The DogSmith Pet Care Program

“To be A DogSmith, passion and caring for animals are just not enough.  To provide the level of pet care we at The DogSmith expect, pet care providers must be properly trained, and certified”.

Niki Tudge, DogSmith Founder & President

At The DogSmith, our pet care program was specifically designed to give you the peace of mind that comes from having the best of all worlds. Our Pet Care Program guarantees that your furry family members are cared for by trained and certified animal experts while you are away from home. Services range from “Daily Breaks” to “Home Alone Visits”, “Canine Slumber Parties” and “Dog Romps”.

The DogSmith In-Home-Pet Care Program has several key advantages over boarding a pet because we include:

  • Walks, play and individual attention lavished on the pet
  • Customized service for the individual pet
  • Home security
  • A stable, known environment for your pet
  • Pet Safety & Security

The DogSmith Pet Care Program provides professional, affordable, reliable, friendly In-Home-Pet Care and Dog Walking services as a positive, stress free alternative for customers when they have to travel without their pets. All of our pet care providers are certified Pet Care Technicians and they are insured and bonded.

The following are included in any “DogSmith Daily Break” or “DogSmith Home Alone Visit”

  • 30 minute visit to the property
  • Collect and deposit mail inside from an on-site mail box
  • Check windows and doors are secure
  • Open and/or close drapes
  • Collect and deposit inside – the daily newspaper from the front yard or mail box.
  • Water up to 8 house plants placed in up to two locations

For those of you who do not have time to train your dogs, but have the best of intentions.Try one of our new services

DogSmith Dog Training Board & Train Packages – Your dog can stay in the home of a Certified Dog Trainer and will receive a minimum of 2 hours training each day. The remainder of the dog’s time will be spent with the Dog Trainer managing their new and unwanted behaviors through interaction and play and enjoying a family environment.

Latch Key Dog Training – While you are on vacation a DogSmith Certified Dog Trainer can care for your dog in your home and train your dog. Alternatively a DogSmith Certified Dog Trainer can visit your home daily or on an agreed schedule to train your dog.

At The DogSmith Dog Training Center our methods are revolutionizing the dog training world by systematically studying the most current scientific breakthroughs from the field of Learning Theory and specifically applying them to Pet Dog Training. ARRF was developed to ensure that your dog’s learning (and your learning too!) will be humane, effective, reliable, fun and easy.

10 Things You Should Know Before Hiring a Pet Sitter or Dog Walker

The world of dog walking and pet sitting is unregulated in most areas so anyone can potentially call themselves a professional Dog Walker or Pet Sitter.   But, much like choosing the best care-givers for your children, it is essential that you make every effort to ensure you find a qualified, trustworthy and professional pet sitter and dog walker.  You are entrusting the health and well-being of your pet family members to their care so ask the following 10 questions about Pet Sitting/Dog Walking professionals before you hire them:


  1. What are their Qualifications? Make sure your Pet Sitter/Dog Walker is certified to care for your pet.  Pet Sitting/Dog Walking is generally an unregulated industry but there are nationally recognized standards and professional organizations that set criteria and certify qualified professionals.  Check with the Pet Care Services Association for their 3 levels of certification; 1) Certified Pet Care Technician (CPCT); 2) Certified Advanced Pet Care Technician (CAPCT); Certified Kennel Operator (CKO).   Make sure your Pet Sitter/Dog Walker is certified with a nationally recognized organization or trained by somebody who is.  Ask to see their certificate and make sure it is current. You are paying for a trained professional and that’s what you should be getting.
  2. Who trains their staff?   In addition to the company’s qualifications you should ask them how they train their staff and if they have an internal certification process.  It is important to know who within the company is responsible for staff training and maintaining standards.
  3. What is their Work Ethic and Professional reputation in your community? Does your Pet Sitter/Dog Walker look, dress, and act professional?   If you can, observe your Pet Sitter/Dog Walker on the job with other clients. Watch how they handle the pets in their care.  Are they on their cell phone or “texting” while they are supposed to be watching their clients at the Dog Park or are they fully attentive and interacting with the pets in their charge? 
  4. What are the company’s mission, values and ethics? Check the company’s website and marketing literature.  What is their vision and do they explicitly state their ethics?  If they do what they say will tell you a lot about how they view their profession and it is something you can compare their performance against.  If they do not explicitly state their values and ethics why not?
  5. What is their philosophy on animal handling and care and what kind and type of equipment to they provide and use? Know what type of equipment your Pet Sitter/Dog Walker use and what they provide.  Do they use choke chains?  How many dogs are they willing to walk at once?  Many Pet Sitters/Dog Walkers will not use certain types of collars and leashes for safety reasons and they limit the number of dogs they will walk at one time.  This assures the safety and well-being of the animals they are responsible for.
  6. Can they provide references? Ask the Pet Sitter/Dog Walker for references from past and current clients. Customers are usually happy to share their opinion. They will be happy to tell you their experience.
  7. Do you and your pets have chemistry with the Pet Sitter/Dog Walker? You want to feel good about your Pet Sitter/Dog Walker and be able to trust them to look after your pets so personal chemistry is important.  Chemistry is also important between your pets and the Pet Sitter/Dog Walker.  Pet Sitting/Dog Walking is a personal relationship so you must hire someone you can have confidence in.  Make sure you are happy with the person who will actually be caring for your pets. They should be patient during the initial consultation and answer all of your questions.
  8. Can you check their background and do they do background checks on all of their employees? Some Pet Sitters/Dog Walkers may seem great when you meet them and say all of the right things but you are entrusting them with your pets and sometimes access to your home.  You should confirm that the Pet Sitting/Dog Walking Company does CRB background checks on their workers and you should look into the background of the company.  You can use the internet or get more detailed information by using a background check service.  Reputable Pet Sitting/Dog Walking companies will be happy to have you check their background.
  9. What is their knowledge base? Does your Pet Sitting/Dog Walking Company understand animal behavior, first aid, nutrition and emergency procedures?  Ask some tough questions that will reveal their knowledge or lack of knowledge.  And how do they handle questions they don’t know?  Do they try to “snow” you are do they simply admit that they don’t’ know?
  10.  And finally, do they have Liability Insurance and Bonding? Hopefully, if you gone through the previous 9 steps this last step will never matter.  However, accidents do happen and you should make sure that your Pet Sitter/Dog Walker carries the appropriate Liability Insurance and that they are fully bonded.  

 Remember if you make an effort to learn about your pet sitting/dog walking professional you will be rewarded with a reliable and trustworthy Pet Sitter for your beloved pet family members.  For more information  visit www.888dogsmith.com.