Everyday is a great day here at K-9 Coach and Bed & Bark

Halloween Safety

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love all the children in all their costumes, everyone running and laughing, the scary decorations, the parties and all that goes with the season of ghouls. However, when it comes to dogs, this is a holiday many of them would rather pass on and go straight to Thanksgiving! The noise and changes to their environment and all of it in the dark is enough to send most dogs for the hills! So here are a few tips to keep your pup safe and happy when the scary skeletons roam your neighborhood.

  1. Candy Safety: Everyone knows that dogs cannot have chocolate but another very dangerous candy additive is xylitol. Xylitol is a sweetener added to many sugar free gums, baked goods and candies and it is very dangerous to your dog. This chemical can cause damage to the pancreas and liver and, in some cases, the additive can be fatal to them. Signs of exposure to these toxic substances include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, bruising and lethargy. Keep all candy and other goodies elevated and away from your dog and teach your children to never feed candy to dogs. If you suspect your dog has ingested chocolate, candy wrappers, xylitol or any other candy, see your veterinarian immediately. Do not wait to see signs of toxicity as waiting may place your dog’s health at risk.
  2. Doorbell: We all know the sound that sends many dogs into orbit: ding-dong!!! The doorbell rings over and over on Halloween, so what is an owner to do? You have a few options. Place your dog as far away from the noise as you can and provide them with music or a television on, maybe tuned to the new Dog TV channel. Give them a special chew and let them relax in peace. Another choice is to have someone sit outside your home and hand out candy. This is the option we choose and it gives us the chance to interact with all our neighbors, see the costumes and make new friends. Make a party of it, bring some chairs, a cooler and your candy and let the doorbell have the night off.
  3. Costumes: OK – I know, the costumes for dogs can be really funny and cute. Dressing the Dachshund up as a hotdog is hilarious, no matter who you are! But some dogs are not really fashion focused and may not enjoy the extra attention a costume gets them from strangers. Some dogs will panic, get scared or try to eat the costume off. Skip the costume if your pup doesn’t seem to enjoy looking like Yoda or your favorite Avenger.
  4. Children: Halloween brings children, lots and lots of them. Now is not the time to work on Fido and his lack of affinity for children. Even if your dog likes children, he may not like children in costumes or a mask, with glow sticks in the dark, running and screaming. If your dog shows signs of stress, or has in the past, leave them at home. If you have a child or children to watch, maybe taking Fido along should be skipped this year. Let’s face it, dividing your attention between children and the family dog can be challenging and lead to trouble just when you take your eyes off one or the other.
  5. Decorations: Second to Christmas, Halloween decorations are my favorite! Pumpkins, scary witches and bones, smoke machines and candles round out my list. However, be sure that you think of your dog and her safety when decorating. Place candles in a safe place or use flameless lights. Glass and plastic decorations should be elevated as well and electrical cords hidden out of sight from curious teeth. Any decoration that seems to frighten your dog, or cause a little too much curiosity, should be avoided. Enjoy the holiday and decorate fully but make sure you keep your beloved furry companion safe too!


We hope you have a safe and fright filled Halloween and we look forward to seeing you all soon.

Established by Certified Canine Behavioral Consultant and Certified Pet Dog Trainer, Amber Burckhalter, K-9 Coach is Atlanta’s ONLY complete canine experience, providing industry-leading: Training, Playcare, Lodging & Grooming.

K-9 Coach is recognized as Cobb County Small Business of the Year Award for 2011 Voted: Atlanta Magazine’s Best of Atlanta Dog Training, Boarding & Daycare, every year since 2008. Voted: Best of Smyrna/Vinings Doggy Daycare, every year since 2010, Angie’s List Silver Service Award Winner – every year since 2011.

Grooming Tip of the Month – August – Dog Grooming Tips from our Professional Groomers

Doodles, Doodles, Doodles!

This time of year we see Labrodoodles to Aussiedoodles and Schnoodles to Whoodles, having their beautiful locks shaved off for the summer. While some owners welcome the change and appreciate less maintenance, many mourn the loss of their pups long curly coat and don’t know that it doesn’t have to be that way!

Many owners believe that shaving a doodle’s coat is a necessity in the summer to help keep them cool, but actually a dog’s coat is designed to insulate them as much from the heat in the summer, as it does from the cold in the winter. The real threat to any long-haired coat is matting. A doodle’s high level of activity and proclivity for water related fun often causes the hair to twist and tangle, creating thick webs of hair that tighten closer and closer to the skin as time goes on. Getting mats wet often makes the matting worse and causes moisture to be trapped between the mat and the skin providing the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. While established mats usually need to be trimmed or shaved out of the coat, it is quite easy to stay ahead of them with a proper grooming routine – that doesn’t need to cost a ton of money.

If you’re in love with your pup’s curly coat, try a maintenance program this summer that combines weekly visits to your groomer for thorough brush-outs and conditioning baths every 3 – 4 weeks, while maintaining their coat between visits by using a comb or slicker brush at home daily. Not only do daily brushing sessions at home help their coat stay mat free, the time you spend grooming your pup is also strengthening the bond between you. As always, our groomers, Aurelia and Danielle, are always available to discuss your dog’s induvial needs, and may recommend any number of tools and tricks to try at home to maintain their coat between grooming visits.

H3N2 – The Canine Flu

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Dear Clients,

As you are likely aware, H3N2 “the canine flu”, that has spread throughout the Northeast and Midwest, has now returned to Georgia. After discussions with our vet partners today, I have confirmed several new cases of this flu in Georgia as well as all surrounding states in the SE. Thus far, K-9 Coach has not seen any cases in any of our dogs.

As the CEO and Founder of K-9 Coach, please know the health and safety of your dog is paramount to me and I am committed to providing the absolute best care to our clients and their canine companions. To keep all our guest safe, we have been extremely active for several months in tracking this illness. In an effort to gather the most up-to-date information, I have spoken with our vet partners, who remain in touch with specialists at UGA, as well as other canine facility owners and vets across the nation. As a result, I have implemented the following policies and procedures immediately to keep K-9 Coach dogs as safe as possible:

  • As of July 1st, 2017 any and all dogs who attend our playcare, training, boarding, grooming or any service are required to have the H3N2 vaccine. This includes BOTH the vaccine and the follow up booster. We cannot at this time make any exceptions to this protocol, for any reason. We hope that by giving all clients a 25 day lead time, no one will be unable to obtain the necessary vaccines. At K-9 Coach, our number one goal is the safety of all our canine friends. I would ask that you each please speak to your own veterinarians in regards to the canine flu and their vaccination recommendations, but please be mindful that K-9 Coach will no longer allow any dogs not vaccinated for H3N2 in our facility after July 1, 2017. I encourage all our clients to act as you and your dog’s health team feel is appropriate for your dog.
  • Any dogs who have spent time in the facilities that have been impacted will not be admitted to our facility until the situation has been fully and favorably resolved. As a professional courtesy, I have chosen to not disclose the names of these businesses as this illness appearing in these facilities is no reflection upon them or the quality of their care. It is simply a highly contagious illness that strikes very quickly and that our dogs have no immunity to, at this time, which is why the vaccine is so critical.
  • We would ask that you avoid exposing your dog to any dog with unknown vaccine history, especially dog parks, festivals, and pet stores, etc. H3N2 is transmitted via direct contact, sneezing and coughing within 20 feet, and via fomites, which means your clothing, hands and other common items for up to 48 hours! Some dogs can be without any symptoms and yet still carry the virus.
  • If your dog is coughing at all, lethargic, not eating, has nasal discharge or is showing any unusual symptoms, see your veterinarian prior to visiting us. This step is imperative to keep all dogs safe and while I understand the inconvenience of a last-minute vet visit or changes to your boarding plans, we must all work together as community to keep our dogs safe. Canine flu can cause mild to severe symptoms in dogs and, in rare cases, can cause secondary health issues that are fatal. However, if a dog with canine flu never enters our doors, we will never experience the illness. You, our clients, are the first line of defense by observing and treating your dogs.
  • Should a dog show any canine flu symptoms, they will immediately be transferred to a veterinarian until the cause can be determined.
  • If your dog has immune issues, is elderly, is very young, or has compromised health in any way, we ask that you make alternative arrangements for your canine services until the situation has passed.My desire is to educate you, our client, so that all the dogs within the K-9 Coach family are kept safe. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. As always, thank you for your business and support.

Warmest regards,

Amber Burckhalter CEO K-9 Coach

Grooming Tip of the Month – May – Dog Grooming Tips from our Professional Groomers

Image for Grooming Tip of the Month – May – Dog Grooming Tips from our Professional Groomers

Grooming Tip of the Month:

For our Grooming Tip of the Month – Touch is key! Petting, rubbing, brushing and combing your dog builds trust and develops a strong bond between you and your pup. It’s also the perfect opportunity to examine your dog’s coat and identify any potential matting or skin irritations that may need a groomer’s attention.

When examining your dog’s coat, part the hair so that the skin is visible. Most dogs have light colored pink or white skin, while some dogs have darker spots on their skin that usually coincide with a difference in the hair color of their coat. You may run into any of the following:

  • Matting – Matting typically begins close to the skin and looks like tangled webs of hair that begin to resemble dreadlocks over time. Mats must be combed through or removed to allow air to reach the skin to prevent bacterial infections.
  • Dandruff – usually caused by dry skin. Dandruff is often treatable by adding a conditioner to your grooming regimen.
  • Parasites – you may realize your pup has picked up some hitchhikers somewhere along the way! If you find fleas, a flea bath will help eliminate the population currently on your dog, but there may be more lurking in your home or yard. The only way to ensure they are gone for good is a schedule of monthly flea and tick preventative.
  • Wounds, irritation, or infection – Groomers are often a line of defense for pup owners in identifying existing skin damage, however open wounds, infections, and recurring irritation should be addressed by a veterinarian.

Our Groomers, Aurelia and Danielle, are always available to discuss your dog’s individual needs, and may recommend any number of tools and tricks to try at home to maintain their coat between grooming visits.



One of the most common problems that all dog owners face are fleas and ticks. As the weather improves and we spend more time outdoors, these pesky bugs can be an annoying part of being a pet and a pet owner. In addition to skin irritation and other external issues, pets are also at risk for flea and tick born diseases and internal complications including tapeworms, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and others. Because winter was so mild, we will see higher than normal rates of these parasites this summer and veterinarians are asking pet owners to be diligent in their prevention efforts.

The following tips and strategies are designed to help you and your pet this season.

  1. Start your FLEA AND TICK PREVENTATIVE now.  Many people stop these products during the winter months and, if you did as well, now is the time to discuss these with your vet and get started. Good preventatives can be purchased at K-9 Coach, your veterinarian and other reputable sources. We do not generally recommend purchasing them online as quality control and authenticity are often issues.
  1. Use a pre-packaged aerosol product that contains an insecticide and a growth regulator. These are the ones most commonly used by licensed professionals and they prevent fleas from molting to their final stage and becoming sexually mature. This combination is designed and tested to have enough residual life to outlast the flea life cycle, thus ending its reproduction cycle. Some commonly used products are Precore 2625 premise spray and PT Alpine Flea and Bedbug Treatment, just to name a few, but there are many others. As with all pesticides, follow the label and safety instructions very carefully.
  1. Fleas are known to be repelled by citrus. The juice from a freshly squeezed orange or lemon can be lightly rubbed onto your pet’s fur to help ward off these invaders. Make sure to AVOID citrus oil ‘extracts’ as they are not safe for cats and dogs at all.
  1. Launder pet beds and furniture covers, vacuum and disinfect floors not just around your pet’s living spaces, but all over. If you find that your pup has brought home some of these little free-loaders, a good Spring cleaning can help control the population of fleas. Always dump the bag or canister of the vacuum, since fleas can continue to live inside the container.
  1. In the yard, you might consider adding natural predators. These can include “beneficial” nematodes, lady bugs and even fire ants. Nematodes are small worms that are easy to find at garden stores or pet shops. They feed off flea larva and are highly effective with a noticeable improvement in flea population within two days. Keep in mind that the type of nematode that is being recommended here is termed a “beneficial” nematode. Lady bugs can also be found at your local gardening shop and can eat an average of 50 insects a day. Finally, fire ants, which most of us avoid and try to get rid of, can be a friendly ally for flea and tick control. They are known to eat flea larvae, so if you have them in your yard, you may want to practice some controlled fire ant management that limits them to some areas of the yard rather than complete eradication of them.
  1. Ticks hang out in the tall grass and use the opportunity to grab onto passersby when they feel body warmth — which they are very good at doing. If you are going to be spending time in wooded or grassy areas with your dog, you might want to fashion some cover-up clothing for your dog to avoid ticks. An old t-shirt can be altered to fit your dog’s body, and old socks can be cut to make “leg warmers.” This may not entirely prevent ticks from making their way onto your dog, but it may work to keep most of them off since they have nothing to latch onto, and will slow the rest down so they do not spend as much time on your dog’s skin (the longer ticks stay on the skin, the more likely they are to transmit disease).
  1. Because ticks carry dangerous bacteria, repelling them is a priority. One of the natural repellents that a lot of people have success with is rose geranium oil, which can be applied to your dog’s collar. Do NOT use rose geranium oil on your cat, though. Cats can have a bad reaction to essential oils, primarily because they spend a lot of time grooming, which means that anything on their skin goes into their mouth.
  1. Check your pet every few days at the least and even multiple times a day when your pet has been in wooded, high-grass areas. If you find fleas or tick, remove them immediately. Proper technique is important for removing ticks, so make sure that you consult a veterinarian before doing it yourself.
  1. Regular grooming and a warm bath can work wonders. Since fleas do not grasp and hold onto the hair shafts, they fall off in the water. A good dip in a tub of water will wash away most, if not all, of the fleas on your pet. Using a gentle pet shampoo along with a thorough brushing will go a long way toward ridding your pet’s body of fleas. Professional groomers are well adept at these skills and can even apply preventative and advise as to the overall health of your pup’s skin and coat.

To help our customers and their pups this time of year, we are offering a $5 discount on grooming services when you buy any flea and tick product in our store.

We hope these K-9 points help you and your pup stay safe and make the most out of this great time of year.

Springtime is Almost Here Again – Get ready for the Good Weather But Look Out For These Common Household Dangers

Spring is around the corner and we at K-9 Coach are thrilled!  Fresh air, blooming trees and flowers as well as perfect outdoor weather make us and our canine friends happier than ever.

March is a busy time at K-9 Coach as it marks the time when pet companies worldwide launch their new pet products. We search and test these products offered from all over the world to bring them direct to you, our clients. This is also the month of our highly anticipated Annual Spring Clearance sale, where you can get top notch pet products for huge discounts!

If you are feeling lucky, stop by K-9 Coach on March 17th, 18th and 19th for major savings and spin the wheel for free and discounted gifts.

Even though this is an exciting time for us, we as know that spring time is when many of us clean out closets, plant plants, trees and shrubs, and get ready for the beautiful weather.

As a helpful reminder, we have included a list of precautionary steps to take to keep your furry friends safe this spring.

  1. Human Food is often poisonous to pets and you should really employ the old “Why even risk it?” attitude. Common foods which are poisonous include: Alcohol, Avocados, Chocolate, Coffee, Cooked Bones, Garlic, Grapes and Raisins, Macadamia Nuts, Onions.
  2. Human Medications, such as pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, anti-depressants, vitamins and diet pills can all be toxic to animals. Keep medicine containers and tubes of ointments and creams away from pets who could chew through them and be vigilant about finding and disposing of any dropped pills.
  3. Insect Control Products such as the insecticides used in household pest, bee or ant sprays, as well as those in over-the-counter flea and tick remedies, may be toxic. Most professional pest control companies will have pet-safe alternatives. Also, prescription flea and tick control products are much less toxic than over-the-counter remedies. Pet owners should never use any product around pets without first reading the product warnings and consulting their veterinarian.
  4. Landscaping Products such as colored mulch or mulch made from recycled rubber, can be deadly to pets if ingested. Also, chemicals used on lawns and gardens, such as fertilizer and plant food, can be easily accessible and fatal to pets. Make sure to read the labels, look for safe alternatives and always follow the manufacturer direction in terms of storage and post-application contact with pets.
  5. Laundry Items, such as detergents and fabric softener sheets, may have ulcerous and fatal consequences for your dog. Highly concentrated laundry detergent packets are even more dangerous.
  6. Poisonous Household Plants include Autumn Crocus, Azalea, Cyclamen, Kalanchoe, Lilies, Oleander, Dieffenbachia, Daffodils, Lily of the Valley, Sago Palm, Tulips and Hyacinths among others.
  7. Traps and Poisons must be treated with extreme caution. Just remind yourself of why they exist! Even if you do not use traps and poisons, remember that your neighbors might. Dogs and cats can be poisoned if they eat a rodent who has been killed by poison (called secondary poisoning).

We can’t wait to show off the new doggie products we bring to you in our store!  Make sure to stop by during our Annual Clearance Sale and as always, we thank you for your business.

AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Month

September is the American Kennel Club Responsible Dog Ownership month. So, what exactly is “responsible dog ownership”? Ask ten people and you are likely to get ten different answers. This month, we take a look at the top five steps you can take to be the responsible dog owner your pup and your community need you to be.

  1. Health – Canine disease and illness can vary from annoying to devastating, as we have recently seen in the case of the canine flu outbreak that struck Atlanta. As an owner, keeping your dog healthy, vaccinated and free from parasites, is a serious responsibility to not only your own dog, but the community in which your dog lives. Keep your dog’s vaccines up to date, feed them a high-quality food, make sure you are giving monthly heartworm preventative, have them groomed regularly and, if your dog is ill or injured, make sure you see your vet. Sick dogs are not only a problem for you, but for our community.
  2. Training & Socialization – The statistics on abandoned dogs in shelters and rescues vary, but it is widely accepted that most abandoned dogs are untrained. Dogs should at least understand basic direction like “sit” and “stay.” In an emergency situation, these cues could save your pet’s life. By training and socializing your dog, you greatly reduce the chances of your dog developing behavioral problems, getting lost or ending up in a shelter. K-9 Coach offers private, group and inboard training to help you and your family have a forever dog and build a lifetime of great memories together.
  3. Leash – While we all wish that our dogs could safely roam freely and play outdoors, the reality is that containment laws exist and are important. Keeping your dog on a leash is crucial to their safety and the safety of others and helps avoid an unwanted call from animal control. Make sure you check your fence and gates periodically to keep your dog from accidentally escaping your yard and, or getting injured. Never take your dog off leash in a public location: remember not everyone loves dogs and not all dogs are friendly.
  4. Exercise – Part of your pup’s needs include physical and mental exercise. Many issues owners have with their dog’s behavior can be directly attributed to a lack of exercise and too much energy. We often refer to too much energy as negative energy. Run, walk and play games with your dog every day and make sure to provide plenty of mentally stimulating toys. Some ideas include fetch and frisbee, of course, but also games like hide and seek, soccer, water-based games (for those who like to swim), long walks with play breaks, etc… If, like so many families these days, it is hard to find the time, join our award winning playcare and take home a tired, happy pup at the end of the day.
  5. Identification – Do you remember the last time you checked your dog’s tag and collar? Often, we put a tag and collar on our pups and forget to occasionally check that the identification is still adequate or even legible. Tags get lost, printing fades and collars get worn out or outgrown. Replace the collar and tag as needed and for an added layer of protection, speak to your veterinarian about microchipping your dog. Microchips can help get your pup back home safe if they get lost and are not wearing any identification.

As always, K-9 Coach is available for you to help with and address any of your dog related needs. So, in celebration of Responsible Dog Ownership month, show us your dog’s tag and collar at check in and receive 10% off any retail item that day. Need a new collar??? Purchase one in our retail area during September and receive 10% off your entire purchase.

Summer’s End – Back to School

Summer has come and gone so quickly! The school buses are running, backpacks are full and teachers are ready! School is back in session!

While families are running around getting back into the rhythm of school time, dogs and puppies are finding themselves home alone for longer hours and not getting the attention or exercise they were getting all summer. Here at K-9 Coach, we begin to get many phone calls with owners concerned about the changes in their dog’s behavior and what they can do to resolve the issues. This month, as the children head back to school, we offer top tips to avoid behavioral issues for the stay at home doggie.

  • Exercise: As families get busier, the physical needs of the family dog can take a back seat to homework and school activities. Many behavioral issues and frustrations in dogs can be traced back to a lack of physical exercise. Make sure you are engaging your dog in physical exercise two times a day, hire a dog walker or bring your pup to play with his friends at K-9 Coach playcare.
  • Mental Exercise: Not only is physical exercise key to your dog’s health, so is mental exercise! A bored dog is a dog in trouble. Providing ample interactive toys for your pup will work their mind while you run errands or head to the office. We offer a variety of interactive toys to entertain any bored pup. From puzzles to chewy treats, we have it all. Leaving for work? Fill one of our puzzles with your pup’s dog food and let them spend the next few hours working their mind and you will come home to a calmer, happier four legged friend.
  • Get in Class: As school begins, look for our fall class schedule to be published. Spending one hour a week in a dog class has been shown to reduce stress, encourage a bond with you and your dog and prevent canine surrender to shelters. Enroll in a class you find interesting: Agility for Fun, Nosework, Family Dog classes and more and have fun while improving both you and your dog’s quality of life.
  • Routine: Know your family routine will change soon? Go ahead and start instituting those changes now. For example, if your daily school routine includes your pup spending a few hours in the crate, go ahead and start crating your dog for a few hours now. Making sudden changes to a dog’s summer routine can cause anxiety and depression in dogs and, in some cases, will result in destructive behavior.
  • Carpool: Many times when I run our son to school, one of our dogs will ride along. This is a great way to spend time with the dogs while spending time with my son. Make sure you have a safety belt for your dog for these beloved car rides. Unrestrained dogs can be seriously injured or worse should you have an accident. Some dogs enjoy riding in your lap and will crawl all over the car while you drive. So, belting them in can keep everyone safe and allow Fido to enjoy carpool with the family.
  • School Gear: If you’re like me, you are constantly telling your kid(s) to pick-up their backpack when they get home. Many items your children use at school are dangerous to your dog. So, make sure you have a place to put these new items that will help prevent a curious hound from ingesting anything that is unsafe. Last year, we lost several soft-sided lunch boxes to our nosey German Shepard! Instead of dropping it in the floor or hanging it on a door knob, I finally got smart and installed a hook for his backpack and school gear!

I hope you found these back to school tips helpful to keep your pup safe, happy and healthy. Make sure to see our website for upcoming classes and events and stop by our retail area to grab all your canine food, toys and treats. And to all the big and little children heading back to school this year, we wish you a wonderful year!

Ask The Coach – K-9 Coach Q&A

Recently we were interviewed by Our Town Magazine.

You can see the full article online here >>

OTM. How did K-9 Coach begin?

I worked in the veterinarian field as a kennel technician, a veterinarian assistant and a surgical technician for many years. While in college, I also worked with a criminal attorney thinking I would pursue law and even took the LSAT. I realized early on, that law was not my passion, but I always had a passion for working with dogs. I decided to go back to the canine field and began working at a local animal hospital, Powers Ferry Animal Hospital. Over time, I knew I wanted to work more in the training field and decided to put my focus there.

With the support of Andy Smith, DVM at Powers Ferry Animal Hospital, I headed back to school and, within a year, I had worked with dogs in search and rescue, cadaver recovery, drug and explosive discovery, personal protection and basic and advanced obedience. I earned a Masters Certification in Dog Training and Behaviorism, came back to Atlanta and started teaching group classes in the parking lot of Powers Ferry Animal Hospital. It was summer-time. The parking lot was hot, uncomfortable and busy. I had a stand-up, chalk-board easel that said “Classes Forming Now!” It was not ideal in any way and I absolutely loved it! That was the birth of what is now K-9 Coach.

OTM. Your mission statement and philosophy?

Simply put, our mission is to improve the lives of our customers and their dogs. This permeates everything we do at K-9 Coach from our service offerings to our level of customer service.

When our customers are old and reflecting on their lives, we want them to look back to that dog they loved. We want them to smile and remember the relationship they shared. We want them to be filled with happy, positive memories. We don’t expect them to remember K-9 Coach specifically, but we know that those memories will exist, in part, because of our work. If we accomplish that, then we’ve left a legacy worth leaving.

We love that customer service is a number one priority for K-9 Coach. Can you tell us why it has become such an integral part of your business?

In the 15 years since we were founded, we have worked with well over 7,000 families and over 10,000 dogs. They all want what is best for their pups and they all chose us to share in that experience together. We work very hard to honor that and customer service is key in that process. Many companies will say the customer is always right, but we believe that the customer and our employees make a team that together reaches the goals of the customer and their beloved pup.

We believe and train our staff that customer service is what happens from the very first time a person hears the name K-9 Coach all the way through each and every interaction they have with us. Customer service is about more than how you address the inevitable problems that arise in a relationship. Good customer service, for us, is about creating an experience that is worth repeating each and every time!

OTM. Your articles in Our Town over the past few years have enlightened readers on the world of dogs. Why is education so important to your business?

Thank you, we really enjoy writing these articles! What is important to us is that we always improve the relationship between dog and human – not just with us, but always, everywhere. Education is key to that success! It’s all about providing information to enrich lives.

On the public side, we write articles, post blogs, speak at events, do television interviews, etcetera. On the industry side, we develop and deliver accredited educational events that are open to competitors, colleagues, other dog organizations and the public. We’ve hosted over 50 of these events and have brought in the world’s leading figures in animal care, training and behaviorism. If one person reads something we wrote, or sees a presentation we did or hosted, and their dog has a better experience, we all win!

OTM. What makes K-9 Coach stand out from other like businesses in the area?

There are many factors that make us stand out: our 20 plus years of experience in the industry, our relationships with our clients and our suppliers, our incredible team and the innovative and nurturing environment provided for that team. We live here, our business is here, our son’s school is here and our church is here. We embrace our responsibility to the community we love. As a business neighbor, we support local schools, nonprofit and charitable events wherever possible and, since moving to Smyrna in 2008, we have contributed more than 8,000 hours of community service and over $150k in cash and in-kind donations. We believe that our direct involvement and care of the community we serve as a small business is key to our success.

What services do you offer and how do they benefit your customers?

We want to improve the lives of customers and their dogs and so we offer training and behavior modification, lodging, playcare, grooming, retail and other specialty services. All of these are designed to support our mission and, as part of that, all dogs that take part in our services receive complimentary no jump, barking and gate control training to both succeed in our pack and leave even better than when they arrived.

K-9 Coach is a Training and Behavior Modification company first and foremost. From the most basic position, a well-trained dog is a better companion and will live a longer, healthier life. From an extreme position, a good training foundation can be the difference between life and death. Assume that you open your front door and your dog darts out to chase a nice squirrel! As your dog flies toward the street, you yell “Max. Come!” Sure, Max might not come regardless of how much training he has received. But, he’ll be A LOT less likely to run into the street and get hit if he has received training!

We began offering Lodging and Playcare services in 2008 because our training customers requested them. They would take their dogs to board at, or play in, other facilities and, when they returned home, their pups would be less well behaved – jumping, barking, messing in the house, charging through doors and open gates, etcetera. So… we designed our lodging and playcare to incorporate essential social interaction, free-time and structured play, in concert with ample rest opportunities as well as enrichment activities ensuring that our training philosophies stayed at the forefront.

Grooming and Spa services are a natural part of having group play, but they also improve dog’s lives and help minimize behavioral issues. Basically, a clean dog is a happy and healthy dog. And, let’s face it, a clean dog get’s a lot more love and attention from home and in public. From a strict behavioral position, dogs should be able to be handled and manipulated without biting, growling or getting overly anxious. This is another reason it’s important to have regular grooming and vet check-ups from puppy age onwards and it’s why a puppy groom is specifically included in our portfolio of puppy services. Our groomer’s technical expertise help our pups look great and get tons of love. Their care and loving touch help our pups to be more calm, comfortable and relaxed on the veterinarian and grooming table.

Our final service is our Retail products. People may ask how retail serves our mission. First, our store is a convenience for customers. They are already bringing their dogs here and the opportunity to purchase food, treats, toys, etcetera, without having to go elsewhere, is a welcome benefit. Our products also help improve behavior. For example, high quality dog food helps to ensure a long, healthy life, minimizes waste and medical issues and will help in addressing behavioral issues. Think about how much better you feel, physically and mentally, when you eat good foods.

Q. We know that you have a very talented staff on board- thinking it might be a good idea to let the readers know how deep your organization runs with talented professionals.

Our employees are second only to our customers when it comes to our vision. They deliver K-9 Coach to our customers and, as such, drive our success more so than anything else. So, we invest in them.

ALL of our employees can submit for reimbursement any professional development conference, workshop, tradeshow, certification or class fees which they believe will contribute to our mission. I am sure I am forgetting something, but I can currently think of staff with degrees and certifications in animal sciences, behaviorism, biology, customer service, human resources, management, marketing, massage therapy and veterinary technology. For our professional staff (management, groomers, trainers and behaviorists), we require AND pay for a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education every year and so we send them to conferences and workshops where they can hone their skills and receive advanced certifications.

For us, the investment pays off as staff have been featured in and quoted by numerous local and national print and broadcast media. We wrote a national training curriculum for the Humane Society of the United States. We have even been asked to serve on professional and canine specific boards and committees at the local, national and international level. For example, since 2012 we have served on the Association of Professional Dog Trainers Board of Directors. This five-member board leads and oversees the efforts of the 500+ member, international association directing the dog training and behavior modification profession world-wide.

OTM. Can you tell us about the many awards that K-9 coach has received?

We celebrate everyone’s success here and have had a lot of staff receive individual accolades. However, the team rewards are our greatest achievements.

We have been named the Best of Atlanta, Cobb, Smyrna and Vinings Dog Boarding, Doggie Daycare, Dog Grooming and Dog Training every year since 2008. We were the first and are still the only company to ever simultaneously be named Best of Atlanta Daycare, Boarding and Training by Atlanta Magazine. We were awarded the Cobb County Small Business of the Year in 2011 and were a finalist for the US Small Business Administration’s Business of the Year Award in 2012. We are an Angie’s List Super Service Award winner for the last 6 years.

Lessons from the Dog… Father’s Day Thoughts

Each year, at Father’s Day, I reflect for a bit about my son and our relationship. I wonder how I am doing as a dad. Am I loving enough, yet stern enough for him to know the rules and the consequences for breaking them? Am I supportive, but not enabling? Do I help make him feel safe, secure, like he belongs? Am I building his self-confidence, strength and individuality, but not nurturing narcissism? Am I understanding, yet still hold him accountable? Do I lead by example?

As dads, we sometimes share these thoughts and concerns with each other. These are not generally serious, planned conversations, but, rather, impromptu comments or questions mixed in casually with our shared hobbies: sports, music, camping trips, etc…. I recently hung out with a friend whose children are all grown and have kids of their own. I casually asked how they were doing. He shared with me how son #1’s kids were all doing well and how son #2’s kids were all over the place. He said “If you want to know how good you’re doing at it, just look at your dog. Son 1’s (name withheld for privacy) dog is great. He listens, stays out from under your feet, plays with everyone. He’s good. My other son’s dog is a mess – always under your feet, always jumping on people, doesn’t listen when you call his name, runs off, uses the bathroom in the house. He’s a wreck!”

I am not sure that I completely agree with my friend’s assessment, but I do find it interesting. Kids and dogs are certainly not the same! But, they are a lot alike. They both look to you for guidance. They’re dependent on you for their welfare. They seek your approval and affection. They thrive with consistency and predictability. They repeat behaviors that you reward them for.

WARNING – I am not in any position to provide advice for people and their children. However, I can give you a few tips for your pups. If my friend is right, maybe these tips can help in more ways than one.

K-9 Dog Dad Tips for Success….

  1. Dogs Need Structure & Consistency – If you allow Fido to lie on the couch and someone else scolds him for getting on it, you’re going to have issues. Structure, i.e., rules and boundaries, provides a sense security. A lack of these can make life unpredictable and scary. Structure and consistency at home will lead to success away from home.
  2. Dogs Need Attention & Affection – Dogs want to make you happy. If they know that you’re happy with their behavior, they’ll repeat it. The more love and affection they receive, the more eager they are to make you happy. Dogs give back what you give out.
  3. Dogs Need to be Heard – Good communication is key. Your pup will tell you what they are excited, scared, stressed and annoyed about. Learn your dog’s body language. A wagging tail does not always mean that they are happy!
  4. Dogs are not Perfect – Have realistic goals. A good dog trainer will do exercises with a dog hundreds, or even thousands, of times in order to establish predictable behaviors. It takes time – sometimes it takes even longer.
  5. Be Patient… with Yourself – You cannot know everything and you are not going to get it right every single time. If you’re a caring, loving and conscientious pet parent, trust that you will be OK. Making mistakes is part of the process of caring for a dog. Be patient with yourself.
  6. Be Patient… with Your Dog – Dogs, like humans, go through phases. Puppies and adolescent dogs require much more patience than adult dogs. Recognize that bad behaviors can often be a part of their maturation process and an opportunity for you to guide them.
  7. Dogs Repeat Behaviors that are Reinforced – If you want something repeated, reward it. No one works for free! If you see a behavior that you do not want, redirect your pup to something you want them to do and reward them.
  8. Dogs Need Training – A good dog will know sit, down, stay, off and come when called. They will have good manners and self-control. If your pup doesn’t have these essential skills, they’ll be unsuccessful in following the basic behavioral rules of society.
  9. You Both Deserve a Great Relationship Together – A great relationship means that your dog trusts you and is calm and relaxed around you. They are not anxious or scared in your presence. Communications are open, clear and effective.

I hope that the above K-9 points help put into perspective some of the simple things we need to keep in mind to help us be successful pet parents. If you believe as my friend, then I hope the above gives you some insight. Finally, us dads need to stick together. So, whether you’re the dad to a four-legged or two-legged child, thank you and I hope that you have a great Father’s Day!

–Jarrette Burckhalter, Dad and Director of Marketing & Operations for K-9 Coach