Maritime dog trainers making it big in Manhattan
A Nova Scotia couple is gaining attention in New York City, where they operate one of the city’s most successful dog-training businesses.
Sarah Fraser is originally from Westville, N.S., while her husband, Brian Burton, grew up in Sydney Mines, N.S. They both volunteered at animal shelters as teenagers, but never imagined they would be running a business in the Big Apple someday.
After making career changes a few years ago, they co-founded Instinct Dog Training and Behavior, where they help dogs and their owners cope with some of the challenges of urban living.
“We see over 1,000 dogs a year and help dogs and owners with all kinds of behavior issues, big and small,” says Fraser.
“It could be anything from separation anxiety, so dogs who bark when their owners are gone, because everyone lives in apartment buildings,” explains Burton. “Any dogs with any aggression problems, you can’t just put them in the backyard when people come over.”
Ironically, Burton grew up with a fear of dogs after being bitten as a small child, but he says that experience has actually helped him become a better dog trainer.
“You don’t have to be raised by wolves to be good with dogs. There’s a skill to it,” says Burton. “There’s a language that they speak, so it was really special to me that you could learn how to communicate with this different species, and I don’t know if I would be doing this today if I wasn’t bitten as a kid.”
Their dog-whispering skills have gotten them noticed by the New York Times and other American media, and now they’re talking about developing their business into a franchise.
“It’s funny,” says Fraser. “When I first started, I would have automatically said I love helping dogs, but I really love helping dogs and people live happier, more peaceful and low-stress lives together.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Ryan MacDonald