Some R+ to Start 2021

2020 was indisputably a crazy, rough, challenging year. But challenge can bring out the best in us, create new possibilities, invite us to rise to it. We saw a lot of that in our industry this last year. We ourselves here at dogbiz were in a privileged position to watch dog pros like yourself make the most of very real struggles in all sorts of ways, big and small.

We thought it might be uplifting to put 2020 in the rearview mirror and set our sites on a successful new year by celebrating your awesomeness. After all, we all know the power of a little R+.

So here’s some R+ for you…

Everyone responds to a crisis differently. There was no right answer to 2020. But as I’ve said in recent articles, a year like this last one could leave just about anyone curled in the fetal position. Any day spent otherwise should be considered a victory in itself.

We saw victories of all sorts among our readers, clients, students, and THRIVE! members. For example:

Embracing the moment with innovation
I recently saw a quote to the effect that bravery isn’t the absence of fear, but the decision to push forward despite it. Many of you responded to the challenge of this year by bravely making changes to your business to adjust to the moment.

We saw you do things like create brand new services such as online classes and private training packages, then learn new technology to deliver them. We saw you adapt your coaching strategies to a whole new way of working with dog lovers. We saw you raise your rates and solidify your policies to protect your revenue. (Kudos especially to all the Dog Walking Academy grads who, after a free Grad Success Seminar we offered, successfully switched to a flat rate billing policy to end revenue loss from cancellations!)

Taking the time to take care of yourself
The flight attendants have it right when they tell you to put on your own air mask before helping others. To serve others to the best of your ability you have to have reserves to draw from.

We heard from many of you in THRIVE!, in Dog Walking Academy grad chats, on our Facebook page, in one-on-one consults, about all the ways you made time to take care of yourself. Some of you finally started taking regular days off every week. Many of you took actual vacation time—perhaps for the first time in years. You told us about online yoga classes and long walks with your dogs, dinners inside your bubble and Zoom gatherings outside of it, and getting back to old, missed hobbies.

Most important was the realization that these things made you more productive as well as happier—and the resulting promise to yourself to protect these moments of self-care in your schedule going forward.

Reaching out to others
Challenges often teach us about our character. We all had our individual crosses to bear this last year. We were each hit in different and personal ways. But through your personal hardships you never stopped caring about the dogs and clients you serve.

Trainers, you worried about the clients and students who discontinued services when the pandemic struck—not just about the impact of that on your business. You worried about the pandemic puppies and the inevitable surge in separation anxiety cases. You worried about how to serve and train and provide strong results from a distance. So you innovated, reached out to clients, wrote articles and blog posts to help clients find ways to work with their dogs and save heartache.

Walkers, so many of you kept in touch with your clients even when you couldn’t walk or they couldn’t pay you. You worried about the dogs going nuts at home. You emailed suggestions for indoor games and mental stimulation. Some of you even dropped off purchased or homemade puzzles toys to your clients’ doors!

These are just a fraction of the stories of care and service you shared with us this past year. We are amazed by you and inspired by you.

Using the time to learn
Continued education is a hallmark of professionalism. Many of you used the unexpected downtime this year to pursue your own professional development, readying yourselves to serve at ever higher levels in 2021.

Some of you attended the Dog Walking Academy online and joined our amazing grads from all over the world. Many of our grads took advantage of 2020 to attend dog training school—something you’d dreamed of for a while.

Trainers from all over the world came together for virtual conferences. (And hats off to the intrepid organizers of those!) And many of you became founding members in our THRIVE! group coaching program, joining together to share and learn and advance your businesses, all while supporting each other.

Celebrating your wins, big and small
In our THRIVE! membership program we start every session celebrating each other’s wins from the previous week. Over the course of the year we celebrated huge, awesome accomplishments like members launching a biz in 2020, filling classes, getting training services moved online, raising rates and ending up with a waitlist, publishing a revamped website, starting to take regular weekends, raising a new puppy, and on and on.

And we celebrated the “small” wins, too, like getting out of bed on a particularly hard day, taking a first step on a project, getting a desk cleared off or a file cabinet cleared out, or reaching out to an old client to check in.

Positive-based dog pros tend to be good at doling out R+ to others, but too often we fail to stop to pat our own backs. With that in mind we wanted to take a moment here, at the start of the new year, to offer you some much-deserved R+.

So here’s to you and your 2020 wins, whatever their nature, business-related or personal, and whatever their size. It’s easy to focus on the bad moments of a year like 2020, to regret the things you didn’t do or the moments you wish you could take back. We urge you to take a few moments instead to make a list of what you accomplished despite all that and give yourself some much deserved R+. You made it. You’re in 2021. (Phew, yes?)


THRIVING! together
2020 offered a lot of lessons. If there’s one we had to pick to place top of the heap to take into the new year, it’s that we’re better together. We’re better when we pull together, innovate and create together, cheer each other on and pick each other up, share our best ideas, and share our bravery, too.

Our THRIVE! members have accomplished incredible things during a year that will go down in infamy. Some have even had their best year ever. Many are poised to do so in 2021. All are making strides—each at their own pace—toward their goals.

If you’re a R+ dog trainer who would like to face challenges and celebrate successes with the support of fellow R+ trainers (and the dogbiz coaches, too!), join the THRIVE! waitlist to be the first to know next time we open to new members.