Kashtanka Dog Club
Human-dog bond: show me your world and welcome to mine, and we'll be happy!
Ksenia and Maia - para dance
Dog trekking, autumn 2018
Tourist excursion along St.Petersburg, spring 2019
Fest show for kids - our Show team, summer 2017
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize and, based on its description, I am eligible to apply:
Yes, I’m eligible
Yes, I’m 18 years old or older
Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend:
Additional Skype interview(s) during the week of March 16-20th 2020
The Purina BetterwithPets Forum in Paris, on 3-4th of June 2020
Initiative's representative name
Initiative's representative date of birth
Initiative's representative gender
Headquarters location: country
Headquarters location: city
Where are you making a difference?
Website or social media url(s)
Fostering emotional intelligence and behavioural competences
Enhance physical activity and wellness
Re-imagining the role of pets in society
What is your current yearly budget for the initiative? If you are an idea stage, what early budget you would need to kick-off and run operations in your first year?
nonprofit/NGO: an organisation that uses its resources to achieve a purpose outside of creating profit
1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.
It was my second dog Lilu, hound/american bulldog mix, who pushed me into dog training and animal psychology world. She wanted nothing but run and sniff, better in the woods. But we live in a big city, and I needed the well-behavioured dog as a companion. And I wished her to be happy - that's why I have adopted her. So, I started to find information about dog trianing/animal psychology courses available. That's where I met my future friends and colleagues. Some time after we decided to start our own project - our Club for dogs and their owners named Kashtanka (after Anton Chekhov' s story hero). Since that time we helped around 1000 people&dogs to understand each other and live in piece and comfort. Now Kashtanka is popular in the city.
2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
We were very surprised by the fact that most people know nothing about dogs' needs and wishes.They make decision to get a dog just by nice photo or funny movie. That leads to behavioral problems, including bites and traumas, and many dogs are brought to vets for euthanasia or simply left alone on the streets. Homeless dogs make people, especially kids, scary and agressive.No good for either dogs or people living in a big, noisy, crowded city.
3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
We sincerely believe that the only way to solve this problem is education - both for people and dogs. That's why we arrange different level courses for pets and their owners. We teach people how to handle dogs correctly, explain them the ground of animal behavioral patterns, both genetics and environmental. We provide agility for small dogs, rallye obedience, frisbee and freestyle classes, as well as nose work.
We invite families with pets to take part in our dog trekkings - long walks (about 20 km) in the country side, along with our special tourist guide and instructor. For those who do not like to walk so far, our guide provides tourist excursions along Saint Petersburg, with their pets as well. All mentioned above is not a sport - anyone can participate and any dog can be successful in some type of activity. We have our Show team consists of human&dog pairs (our instructors and our clients as well) which perform on different festivals ans city holidays. Our main idea is to show that dogs of different breeds and sizes can do many funny tricks and obey&behave politely to their owners with no use of abuse or aversives. It is just education, patience and love, that matters.
4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?
There are several dog schools and many private instructors of different level in our city's dog world. Many of them use some old training methods which are good, may be, for military and police dogs, but not for common pets, especially those of small breeds. We try to use positive training methods based on latest researches in dogs emothions and cognition skills. To be sure that we on the rigth way, we provide seminars of the most successful trainers, who not just show "HOW", but explain "WHY" as well. These seminars and master classes are obligatory, but free of charge for our instructors. We use emotional training, positive reinforcement, clicker training, LAT, BAT, etc. Small groups (3-7 dogs) follow special program for each level.
5. How does your project harness the pet-human bond to help people develop important social competencies (For example: emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, resilience, inclusivity) and overcome serious societal issues (for example: violence, abuse, trauma, isolation, abandonment)?
If from the very beginning an owner sees some result , espeially for "non-trainable" dog (as was informed by the breeder), he/she feels happy and (according to learning theory) would like to continue. Individual approach to each pair let people feel comfortable at our lessons and do not hesitate to ask questions and share problems. We invite all family members to our training sessions. So, an old lady can train her dog along with a boy or girl of 10 years. There was a disabled lady in a wheelchair in one of groups - and everybody tried to help her be successful. Afterwards, she started to take freestyle lessons, and now she is dancing with her dog on competitions. People can also be familiar with different breeds (and mixed ones), so they overcome some myths about breeds, etc. At our first group lesson - it is lecture, without dogs,- we explain some important issued, i.e. why puppies bite and what to do with it, how they should walk their pet and why even a small chihuahua needs to be walked, what socialization means, etc. We discuss serious cases in details and explain both dog's reasons and peoples' mistakes. We try to include people in a dog's world for mutual understanding.
6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?
6 years ago we started with individual consultations, just one or two in a month, and we have no place to handle a group. Practically nobody could accept an idea that small puppies training is a good thing. The common answer was "we are too small, we come after 6 month or even 1 year". And we had no money. We kept working, sometimes without any profit at all. Now we rent our own indoor place - 2 training halls and office (100 m2), have a good team of 6 likeminded associates with good professional skills in animal &people psychology, about 18 basic groups in 3 districts of the city and permanent agility, rally, frisbee, freestyle and nose work classes (about 30 people in general) - and many puppies come. We participate in several festivals (arranged by animal shelter, city authorities, Russian museum, etc.). We are members of the Public Chamber for Animal Welfare in two city districts.
7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?
We have already communicated with district authorities, getting permissions for some public actions like dog shows and competitions. This year we plan to ask administration for a piece of land for a outdoor training spot. Some reconstruction is needed for disabled people to join us, so financing is a goal. We are developing our professional training course, both for instructors and pet owners, so that it can be implemented in other places like small towns (franchising). Every year we offer new services (dog trekking, tourist excursions, summer camp) to involve as much people as possible.
8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?
We believe that animals welfare is very important both for dogs and people. Our classes are payable, but training for those who participate in our show team is free of charge. We have to be profitable as a business, but all the money (after rent, salaries and taxes) are invested in reconstructions and new courses. People comfort is as important for us, as security conditions for the dogs. Our goal is to join people&dogs, not to divide them. Our motto is "well-mannered dog makes everybody happy!" Well-mannered dog does not provoke any abuse or anticipation, or even agression, but it helps us to stay humans, to share our love and understanding not only with our own species, but with those who are bond to us.
9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?
By now on we cover our expenses by payable courses, seminars and summer camps. In order to expand our business, i.e. to rent an outdoor training lot, to make some reconstruction for disabled people, etc., we would need some investments, may be sponsor or government funding or grant.
10. Team: what is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?
Our team consists of President (administrator and instructor), account manager and 5 very well educated instructors. We all participate in many courses and seminars, provided by Russian and foreign trainers in different fields of dogs activity. We have 4 full-time (President, account manager and 2 instructors) and 3 part-time (instructors) workers. President and account manager get their salary on monthly basis, all instructors are paid by the groups. Our Show team is on volunteer basis.
11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?
Our dream for the future is to build a dog park, but we need investors for this idea and some piece of land which is much more difficult in St. Petersburg. Anyway, we are able to reconstruct our indoor place for disabled people ( we need wheelchair ramp and WC room to be renovated). In this case we could cooperate with Assistance Dog Company, to make classes for those disabled people who wish to have an assistant dog. We also plan a tour on several small towns, just to show people by some master classes, how to handle dogs properly.
12. How did you hear about this challenge?
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