Connie Adams has always loved dogs, but it took a particularly bad dog to start her family business.
“I have a dog that was awful so I started training in Kirkwood,” Adams said one morning last week.
It was in one of Kirkwood Community College’s canine obedience classes that Adams and her future husband, Chuck Adams, and their friend Dawn Roth discovered common interests.
“He was also starting to learn to coach, just like Dawn,” Adams recalls. “So we all started training there and became assistant coaches. We decided that we wanted to do more positive training than corrective training.
Positive training emphasizes reinforcement such as treats and praise to reward a dog’s behavior. It is an alternative to corrective techniques based on strict physical control through choker collars and leashes.
“I learned a lot from this coach (Kirkwood),” Adams said. “A lot of this is stuff that I would always use, but in a different way.
“We have found better results with positive rewards-based training. “
This led to the launch of the three Pawsitive Paws Academy in 2008. Connie quit her job as a music teacher at Cedar Rapids Public Schools a few years ago, while Chuck still works full time elsewhere.
“We found a lot of customers who didn’t want to put these aversive collars on dogs,” Adams said. “It all depends on how they make those associations so we’ve moved to a positive coaching style. “
Starting with obedience training, all three partners added doggy day care, boarding and grooming during their first year. Boarding and grooming services are also available for cats.
“We had clients begging us for daycare,” Adams said. Owners can drop off their dogs after 6 a.m. and pick them up in the evening.
“The dogs come to play and socialize. People are busier now, so that’s where the daycare comes in. People come home from work and they don’t want to deal with a horny dog that has been sedentary all day.
The three partners design courses using teaching techniques adapted to the age of the dogs.
“We’ve always had a program, but we’re constantly re-evaluating it,” Adams said. “It’s not necessarily the way dogs and puppies react. It’s more about how people have changed and what they are and are not ready to commit to.
It often depends on how much time an owner can spend on training and learning.
“If you invest time and yourself in your dog, this is how you make dogs look after you,” Adams said.
“They want to take care of you, but not out of fear. It turns from rewards to activity.
PPA staff – there are 11 employees in addition to the three co-owners – also train at clients’ homes.
“We have to help people know how to react and often it works best at home,” she said. “I can train a dog and it might work for me, but it might be different for the owner. “
PPA also offers consultations with new owners adopting Cedar Rapids and Cedar Valley Humane Society shelters. The Adams currently own five dogs, Roth three (and a few cats).
They participate in obedience and agility competitions and advise some clients who do the same.
“We have a lot of clients who do agility for fun because it’s a great way to build relationships,” Adams said.
To stay in contact
When Iowa’s coronavirus precautions took effect, “we lost 80% of our boarding reservations during spring break,” Adams said. “We were on the right track to be full. “
Adams is developing a series of Facebook posts to stay in touch with customers.
‘We’re going to show something or something like that,’ she said. “It’s stuff we would do in class, but maybe not everyone has.”
At the start of last week, no PPA staff were made redundant and the company continues to keep dogs for customers who are still working. To minimize contact, staff collect dogs from their homes and deliver them at the end of the day.
“If you have a six month old puppy, how much work do you do around the house? Adams said. “Not all dogs will let you do your job. “
Adams, who reports reliable pet health information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, points out that dogs are not effective carriers of viruses. The virus does not attack porous surfaces like a dog’s fur.
“If they sneeze on their dog, by the time I catch it, it probably won’t be on their coat anyway,” she said. “Just wash your hands and don’t touch your face. “
Even some dogs seem to know that something has changed. For example, border collies are “very pattern-oriented,” Adams noted. “Their whole world has been turned upside down. “
Many small businesses in the Corridor are still at work, making adjustments and adapting. If you know of a company that could create an intriguing “My Biz” feature, let us know via [email protected]
IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE
‘Owners: Chuck and Connie Adams, Dawn Roth
” Company: Pawsitive Paws Academy
‘Address: 137 30th St. Dr. SE, Cedar Rapids
” Telephone: (319) 362-1991
Daycare attendant Eva Henke holds a pit bull, Lewey, who is in daycare at Pawsitive Paws Academy in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 (Andy Abeyta / The Gazette)
Leashes hanging from dog hooks are seen at the Pawsitive Paws Academy day care center in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 (Andy Abeyta / The Gazette)
Dog handler Sarah Boettcher reaches out to Star, a daycare poodle, while watching other dogs play outside at Pawsitive Paws Academy in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 (Andy Abeyta / The Gazette)
Luna, an Australian Shepherd, rests her head as other dogs play outside at Pawsitive Paws Academy in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 (Andy Abeyta / The Gazette)
Manager and co-owner Connie Adams pats Sadie, a black lab, and Brenda, a boxer, during daycare at Pawsitive Paws Academy in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 (Andy Abeyta / The Gazette)
Dog handler Sarah Boettcher brings a dog that has just landed in the partition she is guarding as another dog greets her at Pawsitive Paws Academy in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday March 24, 2020 (Andy Abeyta / The Gazette )
Manager and co-owner Connie Adams pets Brenda, a boxer who is a regular at the daycare, as she sits in her partition at the Pawsitive Paws Academy in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 (Andy Abeyta / The Gazette )
Manager and co-owner Connie Adams (right) and dog handler Sarah Boettcher (left) work with the dogs at the daycare in one of the two partitions used at the Pawsitive Paws Academy in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday March 24, 2020. (Andy Abeyta / The Gazette)