Be Your Own Boss: South Paw Pet Services

NORFOLK, Va. - Often times passion propels people into starting their own business.

That's definitely the case with Shari Strader and South Paw Pet Services.

After working for over a decade rehabilitating rescue dogs, she decided to get to the root of the problem and become a dog trainer.

"The number one reason that dogs are surrendered to shelters is because of behavior problems," says Strader. "So for me, its very rewarding to help dogs and owners communicate more effectively and do my part to keep dogs out of shelters."

She uses science-based training which focuses on positive reinforcement for good behavior.

"It’s a lot more effective if you reward the behavior you want to see and ignore the behavior you don’t want to see," says Strader. "That way the dog learns 'okay, what I just did is gonna earn me what I want.'"

Shari runs the company on her own.

"I'm not only the dog trainer, but I'm also the bookkeeper and the marketing director and the receptionist and the scheduler. So it’s a lot more hours than I thought it would be."

But all the hours are worth it...

"The number one reason that dogs are surrendered to shelters is because of behavior problems," says Strader. "So for me it's very rewarding to help dogs and owners communicate more effectively and do my part to keep dogs out of shelters."

Her advice for anyone else who may want to start their own business?

"Follow your passion, but be prepared to not make a profit right at first so you may not want to quit your day job right away. Be prepared to work long hours and make sure you have all your legal things in order, but following your passion is very important."