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Pawsitively Social! Canine Adventures sees business explode amid surge of new pandemic pet owners

Owner Tammy Williams says she’s seeing a lot of signs that new dogs haven’t been socialized during the pandemic.
Pawsitively Social

Tammy Williams knows she has every dog lover’s dream job. From Monday to Saturday, the certified professional dog trainer and owner of Pawsitively Social! Canine Adventures, gets her fair share of face time with furry friends of all ages, breeds and sizes.

“It’s not hard. I get to play with puppies all day,” she says. “How many people get to say that?”

Williams started her business in 2018 out of a desire to pursue her true passion after training dogs for nearly a decade as the volunteer coordinator at the City of Thunder Bay’s Animal Services. To her benefit, her operation has been flourishing due to the emergence of new dog owners who thought a pet would be a good idea in pandemic-era isolation.

According to Williams, many people who purchased a puppy over the past two years didn’t have the opportunity to socialize their pets with people or other dogs because of the tendency to stay housebound during lockdowns. Owners are starting to realize that their dogs have developed behavioural problems because of this. For example, Williams says she’s seen recently seen dogs that are reactive to other dogs, dogs that are scared, anxious or shy with people and dogs that have issues being on a leash. But that’s where her services come in.

“My business is about my clients and their dogs being able to have a well-balanced life and be good companions, but that socialization period is really key,” she says. “A dog that doesn’t get the training they need is often a dog that can’t be controlled. It causes a lot of stressors and especially right now families don’t need that.”

Prior to last February, Williams had to run a lot of her courses and seminars online when COVID-19 rates ran high. But after dog training was declared as essential service, she’s been able to get back to in-person programming, which of course, she adds, strictly adheres to COVID safety measures. Her classes are grounded in science and positive, rewards-based training with specific themes in canine and puppy “life skills,” scent work, agility training, heeling. Williams adds that she offers group classes as well as private lessons that are tailored to the pet and owner’s situation. Slots for private classes, specifically have been filling up, she says.

And as much as her job is about teaching others, Williams explains that she and the other trainers on her team understand that it’s also their job to keep learning if they want to continue transforming her clients’ lives with the most up to date, innovative practices. Because making a positive impact on a dog and their owner is one feeling that Williams at least knows she will hold onto for as long as she can.