By Erica Boling, PhD
Canine training and behavior problems don’t always come with a single, easy answer. These are frequently complex issues that can be impacted by a number of things. Genetics, health, diet, exercise, and the environment, for example, can positively and negatively influence a dog’s behavior. The challenge for training and behavior professionals is that they frequently only have access to one piece of the larger puzzle. Enhancing and expanding communication amongst pet owners and other professionals can help fill in these missing pieces.
Training and behavior professionals can offer the best support when they take a more holistic approach to problem solving, which will allow them to help pets and their families most effectively. For example, having evidence of how a dog behaves in differing environments can be significant. Knowing the relationship between a dog’s medication or diet and changes in behavior can be invaluable. Having prompt and accurate communication with a motivated owner who follows through with the advice that is given can even make the difference between life or death for a pet.
How can effective problem solving happen, however, when vital information is missing? How can we enhance communication and offer more customized programs without doubling or tripling our workload? There is one relatively untapped resource in the pet training world, despite its frequent use in other professions. This resource, when used correctly, can help both training and behavior professionals confront these challenges.
In this digital age, we have research to support the idea that technology can be used in various ways to enhance communication, collaboration, work efficiency, accountability, and follow-through with clients. When used appropriately, technology can also increase people’s motivation and commitment to successfully complete tasks. Many professionals use technology in a piecemeal fashion, where different tools are used to achieve different tasks. This approach to communication and completing tasks, however, frequently ignores the full potential of a two-way communication system that both collects and shares vital information between pet owner and professional.
There are thousands of online programs that enhance communication and help business owners work more effectively and efficiently. There is one online platform, however, that was designed for the sole purpose of connecting pet owners with various professionals in ways that can offer pets the happiest and healthiest life possible.
BabelBark offers a cloud-based business portal, free mobile app, and health monitor that provide an easy way for training and behavior experts to connect with pets, people and professional partners throughout the community. Each of these tools can be used to provide vital information that instantly communicates across platforms so that individuals can make quick and accurate decisions based on comprehensive information available on hand.
BabelBark’s “BizBark” platform was designed to meet the unique needs of professionals involved in the pet care industry. Some of its many features include a pet journal that allows two-way communication between pet owners and professionals, an easy online scheduling tool, and push notifications (including automated reminders) that can be sent directly to a client’s phone. A separate health monitor can also be purchased to track a pet’s daily activity, and data collected from the monitor can be sent directly to an owner’s phone via a free mobile app.
“As a trainer, using the fitness tracker, I can see how much energy the dog is putting into a training session. It makes it easier to see when I need to increase the difficulty for the dog.”
– Jocelyn Rowe, Tender Paws
Imagine having a wealth of information at your fingertips, all in one location. Imagine being able to log in to a single platform and receiving immediate access to information about a pet’s diet, medication, veterinary notes, daily activity, and more. Imagine being able to use this same platform to easily communicate and share notes (including photos and videos) with pet parents and professionals who interact with the same pet. By having immediate access to all of this information, you now have a much more comprehensive picture when making potentially life-altering training decisions.
Connecting individuals and enhancing communication through a single platform are the first steps for truly transforming the way you do your business. The real power occurs, however, when you realize how exactly these features can work together to enhance the lives of pets and their owners.
How it works
The best way to understand how professionals and pet owners can benefit from an integrated approach to communication is through examples. Below are just a few ways that BabelBark’s integrated system can make a difference for professionals, pet owners, and their dogs.
In this first example, imagine that you notice a dog’s behavior worsening over time. You are seeing more reactivity, and the dog is not responding to your training program like they had in the past. Initially the dog was making excellent progress, but now you seem to have reached an impasse. You become curious as to why the sudden change, and so you log into the BizBark platform to quickly skim the data that’s provided there.
The first thing you notice is that the veterinarian has changed the dog’s medication. You see that the dog had been receiving medication twice a day, but over the last week, your client has been administering the new medication just once a day. You see there has been no change to the dog’s diet, but one area does raise a red flag. When you look at the health monitor’s activity tracker, you notice there is a steep decline in the pet’s activity over the last week. More specifically, you notice a significant decrease in the dog’s activity from noon to 1:00 p.m.
You quickly skim over the owner’s notes in the pet journal, and you notice that the pet sitter, who would usually take the dog out at lunchtime, has moved out of town. You realize the dog is no longer getting their afternoon playtime, and you suspect they’re spending more time in the crate. You send a quick message to the owner, who immediately responds and confirms your suspicions. You then ask the owner to use BabelBark’s mobile app to search for other pet sitters and dog walkers who live in their area.
Another benefit to using BabelBark’s integrated communication system is the ability to quickly and easily access the full history of your client’s dog. This includes having a space where you can write and share notes alongside information that’s provided by your client. By having a well-organized space to share and access this information, you can more easily keep track of progress and make instant recommendations if needed.
Imagine your client going to the journal to access and upload the training calendar that you provided. Then after completing a training task for the week, your client writes a short summary of how training went. Along with typing up notes for you to read, your client uploads a short video to go with the training description. All of this is accessible through BabelBark’s BizBark platform.
When you watch the video, you realize your client’s new harness is hanging too loosely on the dog. You wonder if perhaps the harness is improperly adjusted. You tell your client to revisit a video you shared the previous month via the BabelBark journal, which demonstrated how to properly fit a harness. Because the journal provides an organized way to share information and resources with your client, they have these resources at their fingertips. Instead of waiting until your next lesson to begin working on these issues, your client received quick feedback from you and can immediately make the necessary changes.
BabelBark’s mobile app and online platform make it easy to store, organize, and share your notes, videos and training resources with your clients. In addition to enhancing communication, it helps keep information organized in a way that is easily accessible. It saves you time, and it also provides enhanced learning opportunities for your clients.
One of the biggest challenges when trying to instill new habits and behaviors with clients and their pets is follow-through. Research has shown that creating new habits and behaviors is not easy. Motivation and accountability are key for lasting change. By using BabelBark’s messaging feature, you can send automated reminders that go right to your client’s phone. Imagine using this to schedule mid-week check-ins and reminders with your clients. These midweek check-ins help keep them on track and remind them to use the BizBark journal to document how their week is going.
By having clients attach a short photo or video to their journal, you get a clearer picture of what is happening when you aren’t there. You are able to provide quick, on-the-spot training. This allows you to provide a higher level of individualized, customized support that is highly valued by your clients. It keeps them motivated and excited about their pet’s training. It also serves as a great selling point when describing the many benefits of customized programs.
By integrating the BizBark platform and its many features into your program offerings, you are able to get a more comprehensive picture of your clients, their pets, and their needs. The data that’s collected and stored online helps you stay more organized while providing quick and easy access to information when you need it. The integrated, organized system allows you to work more efficiently and effectively while providing a higher level of customized service to your clients. This can lead to a higher level of detail and more personalized instructional that helps you provide unique services that stand out from other trainers. It puts you in a position to better understand and meet the needs of your clients and their pets.
Interested in learning more about BizBark and how it can be used to support your business? Visit our website to create a BizBark account today and to schedule a BizBark demo!