Meet Dog Guy Josh and the Clicker Plus
When I got my first labrador retriever, I took him to obedience school. He came out of it a much more well behaved than when he entered, but the truth is, I’m the one who learned the most. There, I discovered clicker training.
The biggest problem when training a dog, is getting the animal to figure out which of his behaviors are good, and which are not. With clicker training, when the dog does something good, you reward him with a treat (usually a small piece of food) and simultaneously click a small noisemaker to mark the behavior. The click allows the animal to figure out exactly what it is that he’s doing that earned the treat. With a clicker, training time is drastically shortened, and everyone is happier.
Josh Pitts is a certified professional dog trainer with over eight years of experience in the pet industry. He is also the founder of Clicker Plus, a company that creates user-friendly tools for clicker training and promotes humane animal training methods.
Josh successfully raised nearly $3500 on Indiegogo to fund the development of his invention. You can see his video at the bottom of this page.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with him. My questions are below in bold.
Hi Josh. Thanks for talking to us today. What’s your backstory?
I got out of the military to take care of my wife who had been shot in Iraq. Getting a dog seemed like a good way to help us both transition to civilian life. I realized what a natural trainer I was and how much I enjoyed having a dog in my life again. I wanted to help others experience the benefits of having a well-mannered dog, too, which led me to become a professional trainer.
I got the education and began building clients, but I quickly learned a service business wasn’t scalable. I decided to go to college so that I could learn how to create a better business model. While conducting market research, I discovered some alarming statistics that caused me to pivot in my endeavors. I learned that not only did my local market not support my service offerings but majority of dog owners are doing the training themselves, something that many societal issues involving dog ownership can ultimately be attributed to. I decided to orient my career toward providing educational tools and resources for dog parents to make their lives easier.
What is the Clicker Plus?
Clicker Plus is my startup ventures that creates user-friendly clicker training tools for humane dog and animal training, as well as provide educational, do-it-yourself resources for training and addressing problematic behavior.
Where did the idea for the Click Plus come from?
I recognized that many of my clients, even those who had prior clicker training experience, would easily forego using the clicker in group classes and when teaching loose leash walking or while desensitizing a reactive dog in public. The culprit was being burdened by too much to carry. Having a leash in one hand and a clicker in the other made it difficult to grab treats and reward dogs quickly.
How did you bring it to life?
It’s been a journey to bring Clicker Plus to life. In November, 2014, I started with a business model canvas and threw up a website to collect feedback and start building a list. The following January, I continued through the customer development process by attending Clicker Expo, where my idea was pre-validated quite successfully by my peers. Once the college semester was over, I prepared a crowd-funding campaign, without even having a working prototype, and raised enough money to get started on development. I’ve utilized every community resource available, including a local high school and community college whose engineers were able to assist in the design. At the time I’m writing this, less than a year from when I started, I’m pleased to announce I’ve begun prototyping and preparing for the first production run.
Where do you see it in five years?
In five years, I hope to have Clicker Plus products available on shelves wherever possible. The sky is the limit for me. I believe every dog parent should have access to educational tools and resources that enable them to be successful with their canine companions.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would focus more on list building. I didn’t truly understand the value in building a list when I first started. Everything had been done organically.
What does your typical day look like?
I get up early and stay up late. I have to take my dogs on a walk every morning to keep my stress down and start the day right. I try to check and respond to emails first thing, thanking customers for their support in the project. Assuming I don’t have dog training clients of my own on any given day, I spend every minute I can being involved in daily operations and planning tasks, as well as being active in social media, list building and maintaining existing relationships. I also maintain my own website and blog, and have begun preparing my first podcast series. Right now I’m transitioning from being solo to building a team.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I’ve never really had a job I didn’t like because I love learning. Every situation in life is an opportunity to grow.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Be civil, polite and courteous with everyone you interact with. It’s not always possible or easy to do (being tactful), but everyone deserves it. It’s a chance to shine. Don’t sink to someone’s level. Maintain integrity. Be truthful and transparent.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My failure was not thinking about scalability. I decided to pivot and persevere. Don’t give up. Only you can stop you.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would really like to see someone develop my PAC idea (personal aerial companion). http://www.joshnpitts.com/pac-personal-aerial-companion/
Bonus: A crowdfunding model for the local level, to create shared value for communities: http://www.chicocrowd.com
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I’d eliminate the credit rating system and improve the micro-investing system to allow easier access to capital for entrepreneurs and open-source innovation.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
WordPress, MailChimp and Twitter have to be my three favorites, hands down. WordPress is extremely flexible in its capabilities. I like how MailChimp helps build lists and grow audiences. Twitter is just thee best way to find out what’s happening in the now and interact in real time. You can use it to grow organically without spending any marketing dollars, unlike Facebook, which is difficult to get likes on your page if you don’t already have a list when first starting out (or are undercapitalized).
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Slicing Pie by Mike Moyer. I think more people would be open to potential risk-reward scenarios in business if they understood how dynamic equity splits work. I feel we have the ability to create our own jobs if we can come to a fair agreement and this book helps with that.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
@VictoriaS because she’s an authority of influence for how we should properly treat our dogs.
For the third, I’ll say @PetChat because the conversations on Monday nights are a lot of fun and very informative for pet owners. You can participate with the hashtag #PetChat
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I crack myself all of the time. It doesn’t take much
Who is your hero?
It is no so much a particular hero as it is the values they embody that inspire me.
Do you (or did you ever) have a mentor?
David Rahn, a professor at California State University, Chico who runs the web-based entrepreneurship course, and e-Incubator, using principles of the lean startup method. I liked his course so much that I became a teacher assistant and have helped dozens of other students launch businesses over the past year.
Is there anything I didn’t ask that I should have?
How can someone get involved in Clicker Plus? Sign up for the newsletter and pre-order on ClickerPlus.com. Share the website, Facebook page or Twitter feed with the dog lovers in their life. Every bit helps achieve the mission sooner.
Tell us a secret.
You can expect at least four more additions to the Clicker Plus product line. Clicker tools are only the beginning for me. I have other projects brewing but this is the stepping stone that will allow me to have an impact in the future of dog parenting.
How can we connect with you on the interwebs?
Twitter is the best way to interact with me but I’m also on Instagram (Known as DogGuyJosh on both). I’ll be launching my free podcast soon at DogGuyJosh.com. I have some incredible guests lined up and no topic will be off limits. I’ll be talking primarily about dog parenting and partly about entrepreneurship and how we can solve societal problems in the dog world through innovation. You can sign up on the homepage to be notified of its launch and opportunities for interacting on the show.
Thanks again Josh!
BTW, I love clickers and clicker training. I bought a box full of this kind about 8 years ago, and I haven’t lost them all yet!
I hope Clicker Ring prevents you from losing your clicker in the future!
Josh’s Indiegogo Video: