Woman teaching dog to sit with treatsHow do you train a dog?


Dogs learn by associations.

If you want your dog to do something you like, you simply pair that behavior with something good. You create a positive association.

When the dog learns that if they sit, for example, they get their favorite treat, they will be more likely to sit moving forward.

On the other hand, if you want a behavior to go away – you want them to STOP doing something you don’t like, you pair that behavior with something bad. You create a negative association.

If your dog jumps up for attention and you don’t like that behavior, for example, you can turn your back to him and walk away each time he does. Since he wants attention, and you walking away is really no fun, he won’t be as likely to jump up for attention in the future.

That’s dog training in a nutshell.

Ok. So it’s not really that easy. There are other pieces to the puzzle. But that’s the basic gist of it.

Now you may be scratching your head and thinking, what the heck does this have to do with growing my business?

And I hear you. But believe it or not, dog training and marketing actually have quite a bit in common as both rely on the fundamentals of Psychology. And those fundamentals are the same, no matter if you are a human being poking around on the Internet, or you are a dog learning how to sit when asked.

Check it out.

Let’s say you are surfing the Internet on your lunch break. Your friend share’s a blog post and the title catches your eye. You click. And you are rewarded. The article was awesome and you found it incredibly helpful.

Click … treat.

Now let’s say the next day you are poking around online again and your friend shares another post from the same blogger. You are intrigued. I mean, you liked the last one. So you click again. And again you are rewarded.

Click … treat.

This is awesome.

Now let’s say day number three a different friend posts something from that very same blogger. Well, of course, you click it and once again, you read a super helpful article.

Click … treat.

You then head over to the blogger’s page and give them a follow. And then, you sign up for their email list when you are there. You surely don’t want to miss out the next time they post.


Now let’s take another example.

Tell me, when was the last time you woke up and said: “Gee, I can’t wait to watch commercials today?” Unless it’s Super Bowl Sunday and you aren’t a football fan, I doubt you wake up and turn on the TV just to catch up on the latest ads.

So let’s say one morning you hop online, pop open Facebook and see a post that looks interesting. You click. And all of the sudden your screen turns into a giant advertisement. You can’t get out of there fast enough. How annoying!

Click …. Arrrgh!

I’m sure you’ve had an experience like that – I typically hit those ad walls if I open stupid Facebook quizzes or celebrity gossip pages.

But check out what happens next.

When you see a post from that same person, are you going to click? Maybe. But one or two bad experiences sending you straight to pages of ads, and I doubt you’ll be back for a round three, even if there was something valuable or entertaining hiding behind the onslaught of advertisements.

Here’s the thing.

People don’t really love being marketed to. If everything in their lives had an ad-free option, I’m sure they’d opt in. Just think how many people pay to stream music monthly simply to avoid the ads.

So how do you market your business to people who don’t want to be marketed to?


You create positive associations with your brand and your business. You become valuable.

If you provide value every time your customer clicks on your pages or posts, and you don’t hit them with an onslaught of advertising, you will increase the likelihood that they will click every time you post something new – even if that something new is an ad for your product or service.

If you ask them for something – “join my email list”, “buy this product”, “sign up for services”, “go to my website” without adding value, you are likely to come off as “just another advertiser”, and the negative association they form with your brand will decrease the likelihood of them engaging with your company online in the future.

The trick to getting more customers online, therefore, becomes creating valuable content, whether you are offering training tips or tricks, blog posts, sharing stories, or training videos. Your goal should be for your customers to form a positive association with your company so they are more likely to click and engage with the things you put out, and so they are more likely to engage with your page and sign up for your mailing list. And when you do sell a product or service, those people who have a positive experience with your brand or business will be significantly more likely to buy.

By getting your potential customers to click and engage with your business on social media, you are building relationships with them, and your brand is staying front and center in their minds. People take in a ridiculous amount of information every day. If you’re not right in front them regularly, they will quickly forget you exist. But if they are constantly engaging with you and your page, the next time they are in need of dog training or dog walking, you can bet you’ll be the first one they think to call.

As a business owner, you should look at Social Media not as a means to sell your product or service, but instead as a way to build positive associations with your prospective customers and your brand. Use it to build relationships. And use it as a way for your prospective customers to get to know you, and to realize how great you really are. Because if you click-treat them enough, when you do ask them for something down the road, they’ll be far more willing to support you.

Meagan Karnes
Meagan Karnes

Meagan has been training dogs professionally since 2002, most recently working with private security, military and law enforcement to provide K9s for high level applications. She owns both The Collared Scholar, an online dog training academy, and 690 Security Services, a company that trains and deploys Executive Security and Protection K9s to private customers. She recently partnered with both Average Frog and SM Leaders, who repurpose the proven performance principles of the Navy SEALs for individuals and organizations.

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