Mississauga dog training business booms during pandemic

Two friends took their passion for dogs and started a successful dog training business.

Mazen Khan, lead dog trainer of Paws-N-Pals training with a few dogs at his home in Mississauga. COURTESY YUNUS NEETOO 

When friends and family took notice of how talented he was at training dogs, Mazen Khan realized he could take his passion and turn it into a business. 

Khan and Yunus Neetoo, both 25, are friends from Mississauga. In 2019, they started Paws-N-Pals, a business that trains dogs and educates dog owners. Close friends since middle school, they both share a deep appreciation for man’s best friend.

Today, you can catch Khan on any given day strolling through a park with one or two dogs with Neetoo following behind him to film and photograph. 

To help educate and build the business they started a YouTube channel and vlog their dog training techniques. Khan is the lead trainer and Neetoo manages the operations and marketing of the business. 

A business is born

Mazen Khan, lead dog trainer of Paws-N-Pals going out on a walk with a client’s dog. COURTESY YUNUS NEETOO

“The idea began when people took notice of how well trained and obedient Mazen’s one-year-old German shepherd-Rottweiler mix was,” Neetoo said.

The dog would follow every given command, despite having distractions around, and it left a strong impression on people, he said.

People started asking Khan for help training their own dogs. That was Khan’s “lightbulb moment.” He got together with Neetoo to start planning Paws-N-Pals shortly after that. 

Khan’s interest in dog training began when he worked with his uncle in Bangalore, India who trained protection, guard, and tracking dogs. His uncle showed Khan the ropes when he was a child, and he has been training and studying dogs ever since. 

“I feel satisfied and accomplished when I can help a dog and their owner build a strong connection,”  Khan said.

Testimonials on the Paws-N-Pals website and videos on social media show the success of training and happy owners. 

“Seeing the owner’s happiness with their dog’s change in behavior is always a priceless feeling for me,” said Khan.  

Strong interest 

Paws-N-Pals was established in 2019, a year before the COVID-19 pandemic, and has experienced a large spike in interest for their business services since March 2020. 

The adoption of dogs has been booming since the pandemic began, and adoption centres in Peel Region and across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) have been overwhelmed with demand. Since 2020, reputable breeders in the GTA have seen waiting lists grow. 

“The demand is good,” said dog breeder Jimmy Brunton, the owner of Brunton Bullies in Stouffville. “We try to fill our list with people that are serious and understand dogs, and especially big dogs.”

Reputable dog breeders are wary of people who do not understand the commitment and dedication required when adopting a dog. According to the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), the average lifespan of a dog is 10-15 years and new owners need to plan for a long-term commitment. 

“With the increase of new dog owners during the pandemic new doggie daycares are popping up, but obviously there won’t be enough spots as people go back to work,” said Brunton.

During the pandemic dogs and other pets have grown accustomed to seeing their owners at home a lot more than usual. As restrictions are lifted many owners will need to face a transition period and prepare their dogs for that. 

“We always tell our buyers to crate train their dogs. As a matter of fact, we begin crate training two weeks before they leave to make things easier for the dogs,” said Brunton. 

Khan and Neetoo understand that many first-time owners need a lot of assistance with building a strong and healthy connection with their dogs. The earlier they are able to understand their dogs and their needs, the smoother life becomes for both the dog and the owner.

The Toronto Humane Society has been experiencing a huge surge in interest for adoption and training services. 

“The interest has been incredible! Since closure, we have received over 11,000 applications for adoption,” said Hannah Sotropa, the assistant manager communications at the Toronto Humane Society. 

“We also offer both feline and canine training services,” she said. “If anyone is looking for additional support for their pets once things return to “normal”, do not hesitate to reach out or visit our website www.torontohumanesociety.com.”

COVID-19 and beyond 

To work safely during the lockdown, the team at Paws-N-Pals started to use a curbside pick-up and drop-off system for the dogs. Customers drop their dogs off for weekly one-hour sessions. The most common request the pair deals with is resolving behavioural issues, socialization, basic or advanced obedience, and how to implement a structured routine in their companion’s life.

In the near future Khan and Neetoo want to open a larger training facility where they can offer daycare for dogs and supply quality educational training material. Their vision is to see more owners and dogs living together in harmony. 

To learn about Paws-N-Pals, check out https://www.pawsnpals.ca/

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Posted: Jun 20 2021 8:59 am
Filed under: First-Timers News Spotlight On Small Biz