Culture of Denver Dog Works: Integrity

Culture of Denver Dog Works: Integrity

By Robert Forto, PhD

Last week I introduced a series of articles that I am going to post each week about the culture of Denver Dog Works. I am only only doing this to give our readers an idea of what we are about at Denver Dog Works but also as an exercise for us here at the training center to make sure we are all on the same page and delivering exceptional customer service and training a client’s dog to be one of the best trained dogs in the world.

The 10 Elements of Culture as defined by Denver Dog Works are:




Service Availability and Belief


Self Development

A Event Culture

Structured Activity



Integrity of Denver Dog Works and our Culture

If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters. — Alan K. Simpson

The Wild West was full of them and they are the actors of legend along the carnival midway and the performers of modern day late night infomercials. His line was superficial and his promises great. he had the cure for diseases and could wow you with his magic cloth that soaked up a can of soda with little effort.

Modern medical licensing has done much to amend quackery in medicine but in the spirit of the snake oil salesmen or the the late night pitch-man they will always find a new outlet, and professional dog training is a prime example.

As I tell my students studying to be professional dog trainers all the time, all it takes to be a dog trainer is a business card, a leash and a smile. Anyone can rent out a storefront, put a sign on their car, take an out an ad in the local newspaper, start a website and call themselves a professional dog trainer. If you work out of your home, a couple hundred bucks can be enough to say you are in business! These same people say they can offer obedience training, solve problems and turn your dog into  service dog just because you want a constant companion with you while you ride the bus to work in the morning.

Often there is a certificate saying Master Trainer, possibly indicating the completion of a correspondence course without ever having to demonstrated how to properly work a dog in a training routine. It is against the law in all states, I assume to set up shop and offer medical advice, or legal counsel or even plumbing services without a license. Not so in the dog training world. There are no legal requirements or even standards in the way that a dog should be trained.

What truly separates the men from the boys, so to speak, in the dog training world is just one word: Integrity.

If I were to ask what the most important and influential aspect of a business is I would have to say integrity. Without integrity at the forefront of a business’ culture a business is usually doomed to fail. In fact, when integrity is part of the business culture is becomes the heart and soul of the company and can mean the difference between a company that succeeds and one that fails.

In recent times, with the media fueled recession, and business people having a hard time making ends meet often a business’ core values are overlooked in order to salvage a struggling business or to meet the basic needs of a company such as payroll and paying vendors. But, if a business does not take the time to examine it core values and continually live by them, even in the rough times, the business is not operating with an ethical commitment to those that truly have a say in whether they will succeed or fail, and that is it’s customers and clients.

At Denver Dog Works Integrity is so ingrained in our culture that it we strive to continually live by it in our day to day business operation in that we see that we are above and beyond the quacks that give our industry such a bad name. We strive to do this but applying seven basic principles of integrity within our company:

Principle #1 At Denver Dog Works we recognize that our clients want to do business with a company they can trust; when trust is at the core of a company, it is easy to recognize. Trust defined is assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of a business. Dog training is a capricious business. You are dealing with a member of a client’s family and you must remember to treat this relationship as such.

Principle #2 At Denver Dog Works we strive for continuous improvement of our company,  and as the leader in an industry we must be willing to open up to ideas for betterment. We ask for opinions and feedback from both clients and team members and  by doing so our company will continue to grow.

Principle #3 At Denver Dog Works, regardless of the circumstances,  we do everything in our power to gain the trust of our past customer’s and clients, particularly if something has gone awry. We strive to do what you can to reclaim any lost business by honoring all commitments and obligations. Yes it is true you can never please everyone. In the dog training world we often dealing with relationship problems, financial constraints and a theory of absolutes (fix my dog or else…). We often deal with unhappy clients because of unrealistic expectations and we must meet them in the middle in order to accomplish a common goal and that is to better the relationship between their dog and the family.

Principle #4 At Denver Dog Works we  continually re-evaluate all print/media materials including our small business advertising, brochures and other business documents making sure they are clear, precise and professional; most important we make sure they do not misrepresent or misinterpret our business. This is what I was talking about above. Anyone can say they have the best and train the rest but can they live up to their own motto?

Principle #5 At Denver Dog Works we remain involved in community-related issues and activities thereby demonstrating that our business is a responsible community contributor. In other words, we stay involved. We are actively involved in two local chamber of commerces and attend and host many events where we give back to the local community. In business it should never be just about making money. At Denver Dog Works we don’t just train dogs, we change lives.

Principle #6 At Denver Dog Works we take a hands-on approach in regard to accounting and record keeping, not only as a means of gaining a better feel for the progress of our company, but as a resource for any “questionable ” activities; gaining control of accounting and record keeping allows you to end any dubious activities promptly. Even in a difficult economy where every small business owner is pinching every penny and saving every dime they can, a business must have integrity in regards to the day to day operation of their business. I will admit, this past year was a struggle for us and we seemed to have pulled through and weathered the storm but that did not mean neglecting our vendors or our businesses associates.

Principle #7 At Denver Dog Works we strive to treat others with the utmost of respect. Regardless of differences, positions, titles, ages, or other types of distinctions, we always strive treat others with professional respect and courtesy. This principle is not just in place in the back-room of our training center but to our clients as well. A client should never be seen as a meal ticket or a a way to pay the light bill, but as a relationship that is forged with mutual respect and understanding.

I encourage any feedback you may have and of course share the culture of your business as well. I can be reached anytime by email at


Dr. Robert Forto is the training director of Dog Works Training Centers and the host of a weekly radio program, The Dog Doctor Radio Show which can be heard every Saturday at 9:30 am in the Rocky Mountain West or download it anytime. Dr. Forto can be reached through his website at


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