When friends and family saw how talented he was at dog training, Mazen Khan realized he could turn his passion into a business.
Khan and Yunus Neetoo, both 25, are friends from Mississauga. In 2019 they founded Paws-N-Pals, a company that trains dogs and trains dog owners. Close friends since middle school, both share a deep appreciation for man’s best friend.
Any day today, you can catch Khan strolling through a park with a dog or two while Neetoo films and photographs behind him.
To help educate and build the business, they started a YouTube channel and vlogged their dog training techniques. Khan is the lead trainer and Neetoo manages the company’s operations and marketing.
A business is born
Mazen Khan, Paws-N-Pals Senior Dog Trainer, is walking a customer’s dog. Courtesy of YUNUS NEETOO Courtesy of YUNUS NEETO.
“The idea came after people noticed how well trained and obedient Mazen’s year-old German Shepherd-Rottweiler mix was,” Neetoo said.
The dog would obey any command given despite having distractions, and it made a strong impression on people, he said.
People started asking Khan for help in training their own dogs. That was Khan’s “lightbulb moment”. He teamed up with Neetoo to begin planning Paws-N-Pals shortly thereafter.
Khan’s interest in dog training began when he was working with his uncle in Bangalore, India, who trained guard, guard and detection dogs. His uncle showed Khan when he was a kid and he has trained and studied dogs ever since.
“I am content and accomplished when I can help a dog and its owner develop a strong bond,” said Khan.
Testimonials on the Paws-N-Pals website and videos on social media show the success of the training and happy owners.
“Seeing how happy the owner is about his dog’s behavior change is always a priceless feeling for me,” said Khan.
Founded in 2019, a year before the COVID-19 pandemic, Paws-N-Pals has seen a sharp surge in interest in their business services since March 2020.
Dog adoption has been booming since the pandemic began, and adoption centers in the Peel region and across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) have been overwhelmed with demand. The waiting lists of serious breeders in the GTA have been growing since 2020.
“Demand is good,” says dog breeder Jimmy Brunton, owner of Brunton Bullies in Stouffville. “We’re trying to fill our list with serious business people who understand dogs, and big dogs in particular.”
Reputable dog breeders are suspicious of people who don’t understand the commitment and dedication that goes into adopting a dog. According to the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), the average lifespan of a dog is 10-15 years and new owners need to plan on long-term commitment.
“As new dog owners grow during the pandemic, new dog day care centers are popping up, but obviously there won’t be enough places when people go back to work,” Brunton said.
During the pandemic, dogs and other pets have become more used than usual to seeing their owners at home. With the restrictions lifted, many owners will have to face a transition period and prepare their dogs for it.
“We always tell our buyers to train their dogs in a box. In fact, we start crate training two weeks before departure to make it easier for the dogs, ”said Brunton.
Khan and Neetoo understand that many first time owners need a lot of support in building strong and healthy bonds with their dogs. The sooner you understand your dog and its needs, the calmer life becomes for both dog and owner.
The Toronto Humane Society has seen a tremendous surge in interest in adoption and education services.
“The interest was incredible! We have received over 11,000 adoption requests since it was closed, ”said Hannah Sotropa, assistant manager communications for the Toronto Humane Society.
“We also offer training services for cats and dogs,” she said. “If someone is looking for additional support for their pets once things are ‘normal’ again, don’t hesitate to contact us or visit our website www.torontohumanesociety.com.”
COVID-19 and beyond
To work safely during the lockdown, the Paws-N-Pals team began using a roadside pick-up and drop-off system for the dogs. Customers take their dogs off for weekly hour-long sessions. The most common request the couple grapples with is solving behavior problems, socialization, basic or advanced obedience, and how to implement a structured routine in their partner’s life.
In the near future, Khan and Neetoo plan to open a larger training facility where they can offer dog day care centers and deliver high-quality training material. Her vision is to see more owners and dogs live together in harmony.
To learn more about Paws-N-Pals, visit https://www.pawsnpals.ca/
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