An event at a boutique draws an overexcited pup whose owners are oblivious. How best to train the pups’ parents?

Tom and Sherry were hosting an open house to celebrate the second location of their high-end retail boutique and dog daycare. The door to the shop burst open, and bounding inside came a young Golden Retriever dragging her owner with her.

ABOUT REAL DEAL

Real Deal is a fictional scenario designed to read like real-life business events. The businesses and people mentioned in this story should not be confused with actual pet businesses and people.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

NANCY E. HASSEL is founder and president of American Pet Professionals (APP), an award-winning networking and educational organization dedicated to helping pet entrepreneurs, businesses and animal rescues to grow, work together and unite the pet industry. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Tom looked at Sherry and said, “Oh boy!” The Golden was jumping, pulling and knocking into other dogs. Sherry nudged Tom, “Better get over there and help them.” Tom rushed over.

“Whoa, let me help you with her!” Tom offered.

“It’s OK,” the owner said. “She’s just a little excited. She’s still a puppy. She will calm down, eventually.”

“An excited pup for sure! She’s beautiful. What’s her name?” Tom asked.

“Goldie,” the owner said, just as Goldie whipped around and two smaller dogs near her started barking, growling and snapping at her, then at each other.

“Uh, maybe we can move you and Goldie over here,” Tom tried. With that, Goldie jumped up in her excitement, knocked into a display, and some of the items came crashing down almost hitting a little Pomeranian.

“My dog!” exclaimed the Pom’s owner. “Learn how to get your dog under control!” she told Goldie’s owner. She bent down, scooped up her dog and left in a huff.

Sherry ran out to apologize. “I am so sorry, is your dog OK?”

“You shouldn’t allow people with dogs like that into your events! I thought this was going to be an enjoyable afternoon.” The owner turned and stormed off with her dog.

Back inside, a staff member grabbed hold of Goldie’s leash to try to help, however Goldie was all over the place with excitement. Sherry said to Tom, “We need to get him to the daycare.”

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“Let me try again,” Tom said.

Goldie was yanking and pulling, and the owner was not making any attempt to get her under control.

“Would you like to see the rest of our facility?” Tom asked Goldie’s owner. “I would love to give you a tour and show you the daycare area.”

“Yeah, sure, in a few minutes.”

Tom walked to the other customers to try to diffuse the situation and make light of Goldie’s antics.

“Puppies can be so excited sometimes,” Tom said. “So happy we offer dog training — we hope we can help Goldie.”

“Yeah, and I think maybe you can train her owner too,” said one of the patrons while laughing a bit.

Tom tried again to nudge Goldie’s owner, “Let’s take Goldie to our daycare area and let her run off some of that energy,” Tom said.

“Uh ... yeah, OK, sure,” Goldie’s owner said.

Tom glanced at Sherry, and they both had a look of relief on their faces.

After the event was over, while cleaning up the boutique, Sherry said to Tom, “You know what happened with Goldie ...”

“Yes, she was a lot of dog,” Tom said.

“But her owner’s lack of concern is more troublesome to me than Goldie. We really need to do something to get pet parents to be more aware of their dog’s behavior,” Sherry said. “That could have been a real disaster. And we didn’t get that Pomeranian owner’s name. I really hope she doesn’t post anything bad about her experience online.”

“Me too,” Tom said and sighed as he continued to clean up.

The Big Questions
  • Approaching pet parents can be delicate in this scenario, how could you get Goldie’s owner to get her into the daycare area faster?
  • How could Sherry have handled the situation differently so the Pomeranian’s owner would not have left?
  • Crowded pet events can be an invitation for problems, is there a way to cap your attendees without loosing customers?

Real Deal Responses 

Kimberly B. Company, Salem, MA

Think about having the meet-and-greet in the doggie daycare area, not in the store. There, you could have people sign in, do a quick evaluation and determine if the pup is ready to be in the retail area. If not, you could have the dog play (supervised) while taking the owner on a tour of the retail section. I don’t know if Sherry could have handled the situation as it unfolded differently. Going back to having the meet-and-greet in the daycare, they would have had her name and contact info. They could then reach out to her the next day and offer her an incentive to come back. Regarding the crowd size, it is hard to cap the attendees unless you ask people to not bring their dogs. (And that’s no fun!) Potentially, you could have announced the event on social media and limited it to the first “X” number of people responding.

Kristina R. Pet Services, Alexandria, VA

I think these two did a wonderful job. The fact that they were on the same page was great and showed a team that cared. They could have told Tom that for the safety of Goldie, let’s get her in the romping room (some cute name, so it would seem fun). I would totally make it about his pup’s well-being. Sherry was awesome in running out to check on the client and her pup. It seemed like the client didn’t give her any time to say much. If the client would have given Sherry a second, she could say something like, “I want to thank you for coming, and while you have to leave so abruptly, when you come back I will make sure (pet’s name) is protected and even given a one-on-one tour.”

Michele S. Las Vegas, NV

I thought it was handled well. If there was someone else available at the time, then they could have gone to the Pom’s parent and spoken with her, and maybe offered a coupon for a free treat or something.

Dawn T. Vero Beach, FL

Is there a way to cap your attendees without losing customers? That is a delicate situation, but an owner could hold two events — one for current clients and another event for potential new clients. This would help to eliminate some of the situations such as pet parents not paying attention or an over-enthusiastic Golden.

Ramie G. Evanston, IL

I posted this in our training and doggie social hour area: “The purpose of training is not for the dogs, it’s for their people, so do not do your dog the disservice of not doing the work. Training should be positive and fun. Accept when your dog has had enough and try again later. Good manners mean you are welcome everywhere and people want you to return. Set your dog up for success not failure. Their failure is really your failure to plan ahead.” Be direct, not accusatory. Assume they don’t know the rules. They are a guest, and you as the host want all your guests to have fun, be comfortable and safe. If you have to be the traffic cop, find a safe corner for dogs to go to but where they can still be part of the activity. If you have ever been embarrassed by something your dog or child has done, you realize it was your fault in the first place and assume they are feeling the same way.


This article originally appeared in the June 2018 edition of PETS+.  

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