It takes a special person to train a dog, especially someone else’s dog. It takes patience, consistency, and dedication. It also takes a lot of time. I know I certainly wouldn’t want to invest all of that in a dog just to turn around and send him home with someone else. No matter how many dogs we adopt into our family, behavioral training never gets any less frustrating. The only thing that gets me through it is knowing that after it’s all is said and done we will be able to reap the benefits of our hard work for years to come.
Bruce McNabb doesn’t think the same way that I do. He is the patriarch of his family-owned dog training, boarding, and breeding facility, First Friend K9. The facility is located in Fishers, Indiana. McNabb is an interesting person to say the least. He is an inspiration to many dog owners that have taken classes from him. His motto is “avoid avoidance.” That’s good advice for everyday life, but is particularly useful when applied to dog training.
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McNabb is definitely in a great area for any dog business. The current trend for condos and apartments in the area is to allow residents to own dogs. Pair that with an increase in housing overall in Hamilton County, and there is a much denser pet-to-human population than ever before. In fact, according to the U.S. Census, State and County Quick Facts, in Fishers, Westfield, Carmel, and Noblesville, 41-44 percent of the population has at least one dog.
When starting a pet business it is imperative that you do some market research to find out if your business is needed in the area that you’re located in. With a pet-to-person ratio that high, it sounds like Hamilton County would be an ideal spot for a pet business. McNabb has found it to be the best area for his business, and his customers are happy he decided to settle there as well. Many of them refer to him as a dog whisperer, and the praise for his training abilities has spread like wildfire throughout the region.
McNabb’s demeanor is described as a disciplinarian mixed with an educator and a drill sergeant. His program is strict, but it has been proven to work time and time again with a wide variety of dogs. Orientation is the first thing on the eight-week class schedule. It last for three hours and is for the pet parent only. Dogs must stay home. McNabb says this part is to teach the owner that the dog is not the only one under new management.
Handlers leave this portion of the program with clear expectations of what McNabb will require from them and their dog, along with an abundance of information. He gives them advice like to never stop trying and never lose your temper. He also gives them important information that every pet parent should know including facts about lethal dog toys and chews and the 25 most toxic people foods. It’s clear from the start that McNabb doesn’t just care about the canines he trains; he cares about their families too.
The intimidating dog trainer says that he realizes his style is not for everyone, but with a class of 25 people and 25 dogs, they must all be focused, detail-oriented, and driven to succeed. He says that watching the growth and transformation from the first night of class to the graduation ceremony is very rewarding. He enjoys seeing the dog owners’ confidence grow as their dogs begin to respect them and listen to their commands.
First Friend K-9 offers 12 classes each week. They train dogs year round in puppy, novice, advanced, and agility classes. McNabb now has a staff of 22 and the business continues to grow. This is a prime example that no matter what your style, you can succeed in the pet industry as long as you find your niche and locate your business in area with an abundance of pet owners.