Dogs do love to run. At least most dogs. John and Erica Reh of Naperville, IL have taken this well known fact about canines and turned it into a unique feature of what is a very common business, dog walking.
Chicago Pet Products Examiner interviewed John Reh, co founder and President of Dogs Love Running to learn more about this past winner of Naperville Small Business of the Year Award.
Chicago Pet Products Examiner: What is the unique aspect of Dogs Love Running?
John Reh: The Dogs Love Running! pet care service helps pets live longer and behave better through exercise. Our claim to fame is our "dog running" service where we'll actually go out and run with dogs to help them burn off the energy they have pent up inside. Depending on the dog, the owner's needs, and weather, that might be a mile run or a 5 miles or something in between.
Chicago Pet Products Examiner: How do you find people who have the conditioning to run dogs as part of their job?
John Reh: Luckily for us and our team members, this is a fun job. You basically get paid to work with animals, be outside, and burn some calories all at the same time! Because of that, 90% of our team members have found us one way or another and asked to be on our team. We rarely have to do any recruiting because so many people apply to work with us. It's actually a harder thing to find someone who's able to work weekdays from about 10 to 2 than it is to find someone who can run. That's our biggest challenge and anyone who thinks they might want to work with us can inquire at our website jobs page.
Chicago Pet Products Examiner: What do you do on hot days, do you modify the regime?
John Reh: Yes, for hot, cold, and rainy days we will modify what we're doing. The animal's safety and well-being is always our number one concern so we make sure to always change what we're doing if weather is going to make it uncomfortable or unsafe to do our normal routine. Usually it just ends up that we'll visit for a shorter amount of time and/or replace the outdoor activity with indoor ones.
Chicago Pet Products Examiner: What if I just want to have my dog walked?
John Reh: Yes, we have many clients that don't need a run. For older dogs and certain breeds that shouldn't be running, we do daily walks as well. Exercise is important to every dog and we'll customize what we're doing to what the dog and owner most need.
Chicago Pet Products Examiner: What other services do you offer?
John Reh: Aside from our staple running and walking services, we also provide pet sitting. This is a service where we'll come and visit the pet 3 or 4 times a day at their home while the owner is gone. This is a great alternative to pet boarding because the pet is safe at home in a place they know and feel comfortable in. The pet sitting service includes walking/running, feeding, bathroom breaks, social activity, playing, medication, and anything else that the owner would typically provide if they were there themselves.
Chicago Pet Products Examiner: How many locations do you have?
John Reh: Currently we have three locations. Two in Illinois (Naperville area and Elmhurst area) and one in northern Indianapolis, Indiana.
Chicago Pet Products Examiner: Are you planning on expanding?
John Reh: As a franchise company, we are always looking for great people in great locations to expand into. We really want our franchisees to be successful, so we do a lot of research to make sure they have the right skills, interests, and potential clientele to meet their goals. It's a fun business that gives people a chance to do something they love, provide a tangible benefit to pets, and make a living all at the same time. Information on may be found on our website franchise page.
Chicago Pet Products Examiner: What is your background with dogs?
John Reh: As a pet/dog owner all my life and all-around animal lover, I've had lots of experience with animals. For the business, we of course consulted with trained professionals and veterinarians to ensure that our services fit the needs and wants of our animal friends without pushing them too far. Generally speaking though, what we do is provide a common-sense approach to animal health in a safe, entertaining, and practical way.
Chicago Pet Products Examiner: Do you have any additional comments?
John Reh: Dogs Love Running! was started because we wanted to have a "fun job" that was also a practical and money-making venture (we have to pay bills like everyone else). We're always open to helping people start a pet business whether it's with us as a franchisee or just in providing advice on doing something on their own. We have all sorts of practical information, including a free blog dedicated to talking about operating a pet business, at our website.