Dog Training As a Small Business – Reimagined


Michael Baugh is a veteran Houston dog trainer whose business has been upended by coronavirus, as so many small business have. As with so many other entrepreneurs, as proprietor of Michael’s Dogs Behavior Group the pet behaviorist is adapting, with ingenuity.

Baugh tells KTRH News the first thing he did was listen to what people were talking about. “I took special note of what one of my neighbors said, 6-feet safely away gripping a beer. Companies, big and small, he said, will define themselves by how they respond to the pandemic. This next part is my opinion: none of us will be the exact same company we were when it started. I already know that for sure.”

Baugh is innovating, and says like other trainers is adapting by moving online, learning from webinars how to conform dog training to social distancing needs, and learning how to develop on-demand online content for dog owners, his first class going live this week.“Our clients still need us,” Baugh says of his profession. “Their dogs are still struggling. These families are still struggling. So how can we help them? I shifted all of my business online."

Here’s Michael’s video that explains it:

He says one note he’s picked up in conversations with area veterinarians is that many families are using their sequestered time to welcome new fur-babies into the families, many adorable puppies that are in need of training now in new homes. He adapting by adding specialized puppy-training classes, emphasizing the need to socialize a young puppy but the challenges of doing so during Covid 19. He’s got online instructions and offers online consultations for new dog owners.

Baugh began examining how businesses in the early 20th century survived the Great Depression and thrived afterwards. “Some were the feel-good industries: Coca Cola, the film industry, musical instrument makers. But the others were just nimble thinkers who could adapt and do so quickly. Proctor and Gamble, a soap and detergent company, changed its advertising plan and invested heavily in sponsored radio content. In doing so they invented a brand new genre: The Soap Opera. Beer brewers, already in trouble from prohibition, started making ginger beer and root beer. Both ended up being a depression era hit.”

It’s that kind of thinking that will get small, and large, business owners through. Baugh says he learned a lot from his dad, an entrepreneur who was a child in the Depression who passed on hard-scrabble lessons:

  • Grit. Get used to being told no - and keep going anyway. Eventually you'll find the yes you are looking for.
  • When business is slow - work on the business. I think that is what many of us small business owners are doing now.
  • Take time to breathe and rest - that's when the best ideas come.

Photo from Michael's Dogs Behavioral Group website