When I showed up at Robbin Butler’s Branchburg home to interview her, I was greeted by three peppy dogs at the door: 17-year-old Cockapoo (Bella), 6-year-old Miniature Schnauzer (Mercedes) and 5-month-old Cockapoo (Dorrie). As someone who is admittedly apprehensive around animals, I feared that this interview could be challenging, but Robin, the founder of Doggy Etiquette, immediately sensed my nervousness and kicked into trainer mode. She instructed me to look away and not make eye contact. Low and behold, the dogs lost interest in my presence.
Robin started her dog training business in the house that she shares with her husband, Bob. For more than 30 years, she has owned and trained her own dogs, and for many of those years, she has managed a multi-dog household.
“I always had a way with dogs; it’s something I inherited from my father," Robin says.
At just 12 years old, she began dog-sitting for a neighbor because she was the only person that they could trust with their two rambunctious Boxers.
“My whole life I heard, ‘All dogs like Robbin!’”
Once Robin's identical twin daughters were grown and she had retired from her career in the pharmaceutical industry, it was time to pursue her passion. While she had always been good with dogs, up to that point she had no formalized training. Robin enrolled in CATCH Canine Trainers Academy and then apprenticed at a local dog training school. While there, customers started reaching out to her for private lessons. It was from these sessions that the idea for Doggy Etiquette was born.
Doggy Etiquette offers in-home dog obedience training that is tailored to the pets’ needs. She travels to her clients’ homes and can help them work through everyday issues. If needed, Robin will even go with them for a walk or take them on a hike. Whenever possible, Robin prefers to involve the entire family in the process.
“I’m told that people like my approach. I’m really good at building relationships and listening. It’s a collaborative effort. Every family is different. There is no cookie cutter mold.”
Robin says that the benefit of being in her clients’ homes is that she is in the dogs’ natural environments. She can see the couch that is being chewed, watch the interaction with other pets and explore the family dynamics. Robin then provides a customized plan and returns for a series of sessions to help implement it.
When asked if she ever encountered a dog that she couldn’t train, she emphatically replied no. Robin believes that all dogs, regardless of breed or age, have the ability to be trained, but it requires reinforcement from the owners. In order to be successful, clients are strongly encouraged to follow the weekly homework. Robin did admit that she was once asked to train a dog to use a human bathroom, and that was one undertaking that she was not willing to embark on!
While most families contact Robin for obedience training, she does indulge in a little fun with the dogs while she is there. She enjoys teaching the dogs tricks like jumping through a hoop or standing on a platform.
“These games are good for mental stimulation. Plus, I have so much fun doing it!" Robin says.
In the spirit of giving back to the community, Robin is a regular volunteer at Somerset Regional Animal Shelter and NJ AniMeals, a nonprofit that delivers food and litter to pet owners in need. She is also an Animal Control Officer.
To learn more about the “paws-itive" results that Doggie Etiquette can provide, please visit DoggieEtiquette.com.