Today I am pleased to present Chalina Muschlien and Katrin Kästel in the FemalExperts Role Model… Interview to be able to welcome. Both are trained dog trainers and academy directors at LakeDog Academy – A professional and systemic expert* school for human-dog relationships and for the successful development of dog schools.
In addition to this interview, I already had the pleasure of talking to Chalina Muschlien and Katrin Kästel on the FemalExperts Podcast. The result was an exciting conversation about great success stories, more knowledge about dealing with our lovable dogs and innovative coaching formats in the dog trainer market. Enjoy listening and reading the interview below.
Dear Chalina, dear Katrin, how nice to introduce you to the community as experts in the field of “dog school”!
Dear Kinga, we are really looking forward to the interview with you.
Maybe you would like to take us on your (professional) journey so far. To put it a little humoristically: How did you actually get the dog?
Chalina: I got into dogs when I was a little kid. We always had dogs in the family and so as an adult I could not imagine life without a dog. That I make professionally sometime something with dogs, was however for a long time no option at all, until I was sometime once with my puppy in a dog school and had to surprise me over the approaches nevertheless very much. That’s when I decided: This can also be done better!
Katrin: Ever since I can remember, everything in my life has revolved around dogs. I grew up with a Rottweiler – my first dog of my own was a Labrador, then came a Beagle, an Appenzeller and a Eurohound. I have always been fascinated by dogs. They are so different from humans, they forgive, they love honestly and they accept situations as they are. I’ve always liked that, and it made me wonder all the more why these wonderful creatures were treated in dog schools more like robots that you throw a treat into so they’ll “work”. For me, that was the key point that led me to learn more about these creatures myself. To this day I learn every day about dogs and with them. I am proud to be able to pass on this knowledge to other people.
We clearly have too few women in the start-up scene, which is why I am always happy when we venture down this path together. How did your “leap” into self-employment work out?
Probably many readers now expect quite an exciting story, however, it was pretty straightforward. For us it was always the plan: we make ourselves independent with it and so it was. After we had passed the examination at the veterinary office (this is obligatory in Germany for everyone who wants to work commercially with dogs), we went directly to the trade office and registered our dog school. And so the whole thing took its course.
What do you think is the big advantage of founding together?
In our case, it is clearly the advantage that we complement each other perfectly in our areas of responsibility. I am super organized and structured and am responsible for all processes and procedures in our company. Chalina, on the other hand, is the one who takes care of everything that happens around the customer and our employees. You could say that Chalina represents us to the outside world and I keep the whole thing running in the background.
What advice would you give to aspiring female founders who are also considering taking the leap into self-employment?
Look directly for people who will support you in your endeavor and have your back, and have the courage to ask if you don’t know about something. But what is almost more important: stay away from negative people. Unfortunately, it happens quite often that people share their opinion about your project without being asked. Because it seems impossible in their world, they try to talk you down. We have heard that relatively often. In the meantime, however, this motivates us because it makes us proud to be able to show others that we have made it after all.
Were there any particular challenges here that you hadn’t anticipated before?
Of course! We both started out as a GbR and didn’t really think too much about whether that would make sense in the future. Unfortunately, in the beginning we had a tax advisor who preferred to keep us “smaller” because in his mind it was not possible to become successful with a dog school. But when we changed tax firms and finally found the right support, our company name suddenly became a big issue, because from a tax point of view it made more sense to turn our GbR into a GmbH. Since a few months we have also founded another limited liability company, which exclusively deals with the management of our company assets and invests them in a target-oriented way. That we have to think about such issues at some point, we really did not have on the screen.
You have ventured a step further than many other dog trainers, because you want to focus more on the “human-dog relationship” and have founded an academy for future dog trainers. What were your specific motivations here?
The biggest problem in the dog trainer market is that there are no standards and rules on how a dog trainer education must be structured in terms of content and expertise. This leads to the fact that there are simply very many black sheep and that is exactly what we wanted to change and we have. With our training, we have set a new standard. Our dog trainers are taught by our experts in such a way that after the training they are able to guide and help human-dog teams, even if they have perhaps already been through many dog schools and themselves no longer believe that they can reach their goal with their dog. But in addition to all this specialized knowledge, we want to prepare the future dog trainers for their later profession, so that topics such as customer communication, sales, company structure, etc. are also taught.
How do you specifically help others build their dog business?
Here, of course, we benefit 100% from our own knowledge. After all, we managed to turn a dog school into a healthy business from nothing and without any start-up capital, and that’s exactly what we teach in our business coaching. Of course, over the years we have also met many experts who support us in this. And I think almost most importantly, we tried a lot of things, and of course not all of them worked. This knowledge saves many participants an incredible amount of time and money, because they can directly do what really works.
I’ve seen you have a real applicant process. What criteria do you pay particular attention to here?
As self-employed people, we naturally only want to work with people who we like and who fit in with us in terms of character and personality. This means that in our application process we want to learn more about the person who wants to work with us. Why does the person want to become a dog trainer, what does the person want to do with the completed training, why should we support person XY in building up their business?
What makes your business success coaching so effective that one should definitely do the dog trainer training with you?
For many, it is particularly difficult to keep motivating themselves, especially when there are setbacks. We catch our trainers and help them find a way to turn these perceived weaknesses into strengths. So if you have already gone through the training with us, you are already so well prepared here that you can use the coaching directly as a business booster. Of course, this also works for anyone who has not learned with us, but if you want to make it easier for yourself, first do the training with us and then start directly with our business coaching.
What content/topic focus is particularly close to your hearts within the coaching sessions?
There is nothing worse than trying to copy someone. That is why we put special emphasis on the fact that everyone who takes part in our coaching remains himself and lets this become his greatest strength. LakeDog stands for diversity and individuality and that’s exactly what we want to pass on. Loosely based on the motto, “Be yourself – after all, the others already exist.”
I found it very exciting that you even offer dog training via Zoom. How exactly can I imagine this and what is the advantage of this approach compared to traditional “on-site support”?
Online coaching is great. It also allows people who are very far away but need our help to attend our classes. Of course there are different possibilities. The most common approach is a combination of videos available to the client and customer on our learning platform and 1:1 coaching with one of our dog trainers. Here it is even possible that our trainers guide the client on the walk by means of a companion who films the walk and thus accompanies him or her through the various situations. Many dog owners have the problem that their dog does not show “misbehavior” in the presence of the dog trainer, so many people who are actually on site also use this offer. In our Hudnetraier training, we also show prospective trainers how they can usefully integrate online teaching into their courses.
Finally, I’d like to ask you both: Where will you both and LakeDog Academy go in the next few years?
We have an incredible number of ideas that we still want to implement in the next few years. Of course, they are all still top secret, but those who follow us on social media(Facebook, Instagram and YouTube) will of course hear about them immediately. Otherwise, we will continue to optimize our training, continuing education and coaching offers and thus provide all dog owners, dog trainers and aspiring dog trainers with the maximum knowledge it takes to achieve their goals.
Dear Chalina, dear Katrin,
Thank you very much for this exciting insight into your expert area. I will now meet our Mina (our four-legged FemalExperts Feelgood Manager) with an even more open mind and find it exciting that we as humans can learn so much from animals.
About the author
We offer in-depth dog trainer training where theory and practice are taught by subject matter experts. In addition, we operate dog schools at several locations. Our trainers work on a balanced human-dog relationship using proven methods and based on the latest scientific findings. For dog trainers, we have developed business coaching to help them get started on the path to self-employment. In coaching, we show dog schools how they can become even more successful with our strategies.
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