Puppy Socialization: Why Social Media is a Must for your Business


I consider social media as important for a business as socialization is for a puppy. Social media can be defined as the interactions between people and businesses online through websites or applications. This is your online presence and has replaced many traditional marketing and promotional tools. It can be a confusing area as there are so many tools out there, with new ones popping up regularly. In my GoodReads section on the sidebar of my blog, you will find a book called 500 Social Media Marketing Tips. I found this an excellent resource and great reference book, so highly recommend it! I am going to discuss some of the most popular social media items here and will go into more details on each in separate posts. This is not meant to cover all of them, but more about what are currently the most used by businesses. I have put them in order of what I consider to be priority items, so this will help you focus on where to begin if you are just starting out

Although this may not be considered a social media tool, it now works as the front door to your business, and should also link to your social media items (ex: Facebook and/or Twitter accounts). It is often the first impression for potential clients, so it is an area that you should invest in. Depending on your business, you may still have clients who do not use any social media tools, so a website is the only online access they have to you. There are any wonderful build-your-own tools, but I encourage you to invest in a having a web development company create your website for you. There are a few reasons for this; they can provide a unique and customized design to allow to stand out from your competition, they provide you the support you need, they have the experience to ensure your website provides the best service to your clients, they can assist with growth as some programs are limited and your time is likely better spent on something else for your business instead of creating a website.

To ensure you create leads through your website, ensure it has up to date information. Your site should be easy to navigate and allow clients to quickly find the information they are looking for. Keep your site clean and simple and do not use too many colours or bright, distracting colour schemes. At a minimum, your website should showcase your key services/products, have a section about the company and your team and hours, location and contact information. If you own the domain, but do not have your website up yet, you should have a landing page explaining that your website is being developed and how they may contact you for more information.

Check out dogma’s website!

Facebook still has a lot of growth to address many business’s concerns, but it is the most popular social networking tool and one I consider a must for an organization. It is an excellent tool to interact with your clients, provides affordable target marketing and is an excellent tool to reach out into different markets and promote your business. Ensure you give your page a name to enable others to tag your business Facebook page. If you do not have this set up properly, you do this through the About section and Facebook Web Address field. When using Facebook, ensure you are not just using it as a sales tool. Share related articles, funny videos/graphics, promote related businesses, create contests and add pictures/videos of your business that encourage feedback.

Check out dogma’s Facebook page!

This is an important tool for you individually as a business owner. It is considered a professional networking tool and allows you to make connections within your industry and with other professionals. It is a good idea to keep your profile up to date and spend the time outlining all areas about yourself. You can use this to promote and get the word out about your business as well.

Check out my LinkedIn profile!

This is an excellent tool if you like to write. It allows you to provide free resources to your client, which is a great value-added service! It helps to promote you as an expert in your industry and creates the opportunity to reach people outside of your market. It also provides new information regularly to your clients (as long as you regularly update it) and can assist in relationship-building. If you provide great information through your blog, your clients will share it and help promote you and/or your business!

Take a look at dogma’s blog!

Twitter has provided me with the furthest reaching social connections due to how it operates. It is another social networking tool that provides quick status updates. It should be used on a more frequent basis to keep users engaged. What made Twitter unique was its use of hashtags. A hashtag is a key phrase or term preceded with the # symbol. You would highlight keywords in a tweet by putting the # symbol in front of the word. You can use more common terms or create new ones. For example, some of our hashtags we commonly use are #dogs, #yyc (for Calgary), #dogmadogs, #urbanK9 or #kinderPUPS. If you click on a hashtag, it will show you all tweets that include that specific one. You can join groups and retweet any tweets you think would be valuable for your clients.

Check out dogma’s Twitter account!

Instagram is a fun way to share pictures and short videos of your business. Being surrounded by dogs all day, it is easy for us to take fun and interesting pictures. You could showcase certain products or create fun ways for your clients to follow your projects or service offerings. It is another excellent tool for increasing client interaction and also uses hashtags as a key format of their services. You can download separate apps to add fun frames, filters, video editing and showcase pictures differently!

Find dogma on Instagram!

YouTube is a video sharing website. It may not be relevant to your business, but can provide another excellent way to promote your services and/or educate your clients. Video can be an excellent tool to set yourself apart from your competition and is ideal for promoting yourself as an expert. We are just growing ours and are building it out in 2015, so I will keep you updated on our process. YouTube is also now integrated with Google, so directly links to your gmail or Google+ accounts, which provide some excellent tools and great resources for your business.

Find dogma on YouTube!

There are so many tools out there and this is just a small outline of what is recommended to start. Build slowly to ensure you keep each up to date. The worst thing you can do is create a social media avenue that is stagnant and rarely updated. Keep your interactions brief as most people are quickly scanning and do not want anything that will take too long. Provide quality and engaging content as this will increase the chances that your information will be cross-posted or shared, which creates free promotions for your organization. Do not shy away from social media as this is quickly becoming the new avenue for marketing for businesses. When researching companies, most people look at social media, so if you are not set up or your information is outdated/poor, the chances are you are losing a large number of your leads for your business! The best part, to start, it is all free!

Have questions? Feel free to email me at megan@dogmatraining.com.

Share your experiences, fears, or success stories with social media in the comments below!

Drop It: Lessons from Dogs on Stress Management

I love this and enjoy seeing this saying making continual rounds through social media. It is amusing, but I think it also offers some practical advice (although I don’t recommend actually peeing on things 😀 ). The lesson I take from this and our dogs is once something is resolved, or it creates negativity or unnecessary stress in your life, drop it!  This means removing it from your life and/or to stop worrying about it. This is much easier said than done, so I am going to discuss some ways to help with this.

I started learning about this concept when I first read The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama (it is listed on my GoodReads link and is one I highly recommend). I was going through some challenges while working at an animal shelter and was struggling with the poor choices they were making for the animals. It was an extremely hard time and was taking a toll on my overall well-being, so I began searching for some guidance. I was becoming more negative and emotionally drained and could not pull myself from this. It was impacting my life and I needed something to change me when I found this book. It was a life saver for me.

The whole book is wonderful and has many guiding principles, but let’s first discuss the section on self-created suffering and why this is so important and why we need to learn to ‘drop it’. “All too often we perpetuate our pain, keep it alive, by replaying our hurts over and over again in our minds, magnifying our injustices in the process.” “To a large extent, whether you suffer depends on how you respond to a given situation. …Although you may not always be able to avoid difficult situations, you can modify the extent to which you suffer by how you choose to respond to the situation.” These are powerful concepts and had a tremendous impact on me. What was I doing that was creating my suffering and what could I do to help myself? I think too often we are trying to change external forces and ignore what we may be doing to create our own problems/suffering.

By not practicing drop it, we are holding onto negative thoughts which creates unnecessary stress and self suffering. However, this is something many of us have done for a majority of our lives so it is a hard habit to break. I started by just taking note of every time I felt negative or upset about something. Was it the result of something that was happening to me or was I creating this feeling on my own? For example, when seeing my neighbour who frustrated me I began to vent about her. This was creating a negative feeling for me and had absolutely no impact on her. It was a moment of self suffering on an issue that had passed and was no longer relevant. I needed to drop it. I had heard from someone about visualizing the act of dropping something. She would picture putting whatever it was in a suitcase, setting it down and removing it from her thoughts. I suggest having some way to acknowledge and visualize the act of dropping something as well, as it proves to also be a reminder for me to keep it out of my mind.

So how does this all apply to business? You do not have time to dwell on the past and you cannot afford to let negativity take over your life. You must learn to drop it. This is also a powerful way to lead by example and demonstrate positive mental thinking to your team. It also helps with conflict. If I need to address a concern and it is taken care of, we don’t talk about it again (unless we are referring to the lesson gained from it). By dropping it, I show my team that we are moving on and I recognize their effort to change.  We don’t dwell on the negative past, but rather focus on the positive present.

There are so many lessons to learn from our dogs, and living in the moment is one of them. They are not sitting and stressing about the past, worrying about the future or focusing on negativity. If it doesn’t matter to them, or if it doesn’t affect them positively, they move on. Let’s learn to drop it so we can focus on the good and move forward with the right attitude and perspective to help our businesses and team succeed!

Do you have ways you help yourself to drop it? Are their certain emotions you attribute with self suffering? Share in the comments below!

A Dog’s Loyalty: Core Values for Your Business


Loyalty is a word that most people would use to describe a dog. It is something that we love the most about our dogs and is an extremely special trait of theirs. We would say loyalty is a core value of a dog; a guiding principle that dictates their behaviour. Core values are the underlying beliefs of an individual or organization. I consider them a vital part of my business in relation to recruiting and growing my team, client relations and strategic planning. They are my soul and they put the heart into my business.

If you have not done so already, you should pick core values that represent you and that also represent your organization. You are the leader of your business, so they must reflect your individual beliefs that you consider important traits in yourself and others. To determine your core values, begin by just writing down a list of as many you can think of. Or you can search online for lists and select the ones that mean the most to you. Core Values List is a great resource for this. Narrow down your list and take your time to ensure you pick the ones that truly represent what you and your business are about.

Once you have determined your core values, they should be predominantly displayed throughout your organization. Share them with your team and implement them into your on-boarding process. They truly do represent what you are about and assist with your team development. For the first few years of my business, the only team I removed were ones that went against dogma’s core values. You cannot teach core values, but you can coach hard skills. We also watch for this when a team member first starts with us. We will end the relationship early if the new team member consistently demonstrates anything that goes against our core values.

If you already have core values, think of ways to integrate them further into your day to day operations and ensure you lead by example and live by them. This is the most important part of them; that as a leader you must truly live by your core values. Remember them and use them to help guide your growth and decisions. I have learned I need to do more with ours and part of that review made me think that we can add some more. Currently, we have five and I would like to extend this to ten. I am going to seek my team’s input on this and have them help me select them and let me know what they think represents us. I’m very excited about this and think it will be an excellent team building exercise. Once we determine this, I am going to put them into a bright graphic format and build them more into everything we do. I will keep you posted on how it goes!

What have you learned from developing your core values? How have you felt it has affected your team? Share your experiences below in the comments!

Dog Years: My Story

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Like so many of us, I dreamed of owning a business at a young age. I wouldn’t say I was business savvy as a child, but I knew I was going to forge my own path. I was lucky to land a decent job while I was in high school. Actually, I shouldn’t say that as I hate it when people say I am lucky to be where I am. I was a good student and was recommended by the teacher when the employer called the school looking for a student for part-time data entry work. I worked for an amazing man who quickly become my business mentor. Ron always valued my opinion, coached me and kept me in the loop of business decisions despite my young age. He started my involvement in the IT world and guided my decision away from vet school. He saw something in me and I know it was hard when I left to go. It wasn’t until many years later when I opened dogma that I realized how much he truly taught me.

I took a program in ecommerce and started a career in software development. I did not enjoy it. It was challenging, but it was the same routine and underwhelming with no creativity. I started my first company, Webnology, and offered web development services for small businesses. I started with a partner and she left after our very first project when the client was late paying. She did not want to leave the security of a full time job. I was disappointed, but this ended up being the best thing for me. Suddenly I needed to do things on my own. I started attending business networking events and launched a successful business.

I always wanted to work with animals, but vet medicine was not for me. I decided to begin volunteering at our local humane society and my life path launched into working with dogs. What an amazing feeling when you recognize your true passion. I could not get enough learning, experience and work with dogs. I took any job with dogs I could find and volunteered as often as possible. I slowly began to transition from the high paying world of web design and took jobs making $7.50/hour, excited for the opportunity to work with dogs. I realized that life was way too short to work to live. I wanted to do what I loved and knew I could do it well. Everyone thought I was crazy, but I had a vision, wanted to get my experience to certify as a trainer, and I took every naysayer as motivation to prove I could reach my goals.

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I incorporated dogma in 2006 and opened my first dog daycare and boarding facility in Calgary in 2008. I now have 2 locations, over 20 staff, see an average of 120 dogs/day between both facilities and run 30+ classes a week. We do private and group training, offer dog daycare, specialized puppy programs and a dog training apprenticeship program which has seen over 40 active graduates enter the dog training industry! We have set the standard in dog care and I am proud of what I have created. Like all of us entrepreneurs, it has been quite a journey; full of struggles, lessons, joys, despair, loneliness, strength, inspiration and wonders.

My goals?

To build a community of support. As an entrepreneur friends and family will never truly understand your struggles and accomplishments. If you just need affirmation, need help with a specific topic or want to know you are not alone, I want this blog to help. I believe we have specific challenges as female entrepreneurs, but also have specific traits that provide us with unique skillsets to enable tremendous success. We must learn to build each other up, learn and support each other and work together. Strength is in numbers. I want us to lead by example and encourage young females to live their dreams.

On a personal level I am fighting for the proper and humane treatment of animals, specifically dogs. I devote my time to educating dog owners, animal rescues, dog trainers and professionals who work with dogs. Some facilities are being run where dogs have died, or being hurt or traumatized. Training classes can be based entirely on fear and intimidation. So many animals live under extreme stress and fear. We can do more. We need to empathize better with the animals on our planet. This is one fight I will not stop.