Instinct Dog Training Expands Through Franchising

The New York-based dog training concept is continuing to appeal to qualified franchisees with a focus on innovation, a purpose-driven business model and a strategic partnership with Spadea Lignana law firm. 

Instinct Dog Training is quickly establishing itself as a leading franchise in the behavioral pet training segment. The emerging brand, with help and guidance from Spadea Lignana Franchise Attorneys, began franchising in 2018 and has expanded to feature seven locations in markets like New York City, New Jersey, Portland, San Diego and more.

“Instinct was originally founded in 2009 by myself and my wife Sarah Fraser,” said Brian Burton, co-founder and CEO. “We encountered a lot of dogs in shelters during personal volunteer work that were there for potentially solvable or treatable behavioral issues. We both have master’s degrees in animal behavioral training, and we could see there were ways to make life easier for pet owners. We started to offer training in people’s homes, and eventually got our first store front in 2011 in East Harlem.”

Over the next five years, Burton notes the Instinct Dog Training business exploded in popularity. “Eventually, we decided that we wanted to expand the brand and bring positive dog training to the masses,” he said. “The dog training industry is a little bit of the Wild West right now, with a lot of companies using outdated methods. We wanted to help as many dogs and people as possible, and we realized franchising might be our best model because we’d have local owners on the ground. We are dealing with people’s family members when training these dogs, so growing without that locally owned aspect didn’t feel right.”

Instinct Dog Training began franchising in 2018, and Burton continued to build out the business model, opening a technology and communication center in Nova Scotia that handles all client leads for franchisees. “I was a software engineer prior to starting this business, so I am very focused on automation, whether it be with our booking, follow-ups with clients, training, etc.,” he said. “We provide a lot of visibility into the experience of the clients and also make sure the trainers have the best experience possible. We take away much of the administrative burden and many of the pain points for our franchisees.”

As the Instinct Dog Training brand grew, more and more business-savvy entrepreneurs started taking notice of the unique opportunity within the industry. “Dog training can feel very isolating, especially for independent owners who are out there on their own without a network,” said Burton. “Our prospective franchisees recognize that they could have experienced people in the industry behind them and can tap into a strong brand reputation.”

But Burton says the team certainly hasn’t rested on their laurels since then — they have continued to innovate and adapt the business model to keep up with the changing industry. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, for example, there was a huge shift to virtual lessons, so Burton made sure they could offer a blending model of in-person and virtual services.

Instinct Nature Driven Nurture Another example of innovation is the brand’s recently rolled-out Nature-Driven-Nurture product and framework. “When people come to Instinct, we look to understand the dogs’ nature so we can best nurture them,” said Burton. “Our initial consultation now includes a beautiful intake form from clients which produces a Nature-Driven Nurture report. This includes scientifically validated scales from the University of Lincoln (impulsivity, fear scales, etc.) and our own proprietary algorithms. Clients also get access to an automatically generated Trello app board to track their goals and communicate with their trainer.”

Burton says the team also started an online course that is free with anyone who registers with Instinct, and has opened it up to the general public as well. “This not only increases brand recognition for our franchisees, but also allows us to achieve the most important goal — providing necessary pet training services to as many people as possible,” he said.

Now, with an ever-evolving business model and a growing reputation in the industry, Burton says the Instinct Dog Training concept is on the cusp of major growth. The goal is to become a leading brand in both helping owners and helping dogs, and the brand’s partnership with Spadea Lignana Franchise Attorneys has helped establish a recognizable name with abounding franchise potential. Spadea Lignana has facilitated several franchise agreements for Instinct Dog Training, and Burton says the firm has been extremely helpful throughout the whole process.

“I originally came in contact with them by working with an attorney who merged with the firm,” said Burton. “They charge a very reasonable cost and they are just as focused on automation and digitization as we are. Whether it is a map of our franchise registration states or an automated platform where potential clients can go to their state and download their FDD, everything is digitized and sent out so we don’t have to worry. Their response time to questions and their level of communication has also been A-plus.”

Looking ahead, with a goal of opening 20 to 30 locations over the next five years, Burton says Instinct Dog Training will continue to leverage its partnership with Spadea Lignana to promote healthy growth. “We really started growth slow and steady to ensure our systems were working,” he said. “Now, we are ready to find more qualified franchise partners who are eager to join a proven brand and provide positive dog training to communities across the country.”

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