Small Business Q&A: The Dog Duchess
An East Cobb dog behaviorist teaches people to have well-adjusted family pets.
East Cobb native Stefanie Roberts does more than talk about well-trained dogs. She walks the walk by having four, happy, respectful dogs in her household.
Roberts uses positive reinforcement to train dogs in group obedience classes held at Montrose Animal Hospital and during one-on-one problem solving sessions in her training venture, The Dog Duchess.
"Dogs are happy when they know what their status in the family is and when they are confident in the leadership of the pack."
"Pack leaders should be authoritative without being aggressive. Dogs need set boundaries just like small children do."
Roberts advises to NEVER leave children under 7 years-old alone with animals and never leave any children alone with puppies.
"A puppy is exactly like a human baby except the baby wears pampers and it's not against the law to leave the puppy alone.
And, the puppy will never use words to communicate, so it's up to the humans to learn the dog's vocal and body language."
Roberts has dog behavior information on her website and suggests visiting a website by Turid Rugaas, author of the bestselling book "On Talking Terms With Dogs" to learn more about dogs.
Q. What's the best thing about your job?
A. Watching an owner and dog learn how to communicate.
Once the dog has clear guide lines they relax. I've seen dogs labeled as vicious that were really just stressed-out because they had no clue what was expected of them.
Q. What is the best thing about East Cobb?
A. People are truly dog lovers and are willing to change their actions to better communicate with their dogs.
People here put in the time and money and bend over backwards to become good dog owners.
Q. Why did you choose to open your business in East Cobb?
A. This is home. I grew up here and stay here because the people have good core values of family and faith.
Q. Why did you pick this kind of business?
A. I've always had dogs, I think being able to communicate with them is a gift. So, I started studying dog behavior.
Q. What are some of the services you offer that people don't know about?
A. I've got a one-on-one 60-minute guarantee. If you don't see positive change in your dog after an hour problem solving session then there's no charge for my time.
I've got a 100% problem solving success rate. If it's a severe issue it may take time to correct, but, you'll see an immediate difference.
Q. How long have you been in business?
A. 15 years. The Dog Duchess is under my LLC of a different name.
Q. How did your business get started?
A. I was working as an emergency nurse, I got burnt out with it and started studying dog behavior.
I studied and trained dogs part time while working other nursing jobs until I was able to work with dogs full time.
Q. Do you have advice for anyone who'd like to start a small business in this area?
A. Do your research. Know all the licenses and rules and regulations that apply to your business.
Cobb County and the Small Business Bureau are good resources for that.
Q. Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know?
A. Their dog is not as irritating as they think it is. (Laugh.) Every dog can learn something. My sixteen year-old Poodle learns new tricks.