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Kyra Sundance is a stunt dog performer. She has spent decades of her successful career doing live stunt dog shows, halftime shows, corporate events, and more. She’s also spent a lot of time writing and teaching others – she’s written 10 books, including the New York Times bestseller ‘101 Dog Tricks’. In 2000, she founded Do More With Your Dog, the largest dog trick and fitness titling organization in the world. 

Do More With Your Dog (DMWYD) offers certifications for Trick Dog Titles, which traditionally are performed and judged in person. But Kyra saw an opportunity early on to differentiate their offering, making title submissions easier and more accessible for dog owners. They allowed their customers to send their title submissions by video, to be judged and awarded virtually. This differentiating strategy has been in place for years–long before COVID–but has certainly served the company very well in the last 18 months. 

Kyra’s teaching approach

While customers were able to share their certification submissions by video, the physical training package from DMWYD would be mailed to customers directly, and included workbooks, Kyra’s bestselling book, and other fun swag. 

Then in 2017, Kyra and her team took things up another level, and brought all of their training online with Thinkific. So their customers still get some physical training materials in the mail, but now they have the video training content of Kyra performing with her dogs to complement the workbooks, allowing for a deeper and more dynamic learning experience.

And turns out, in an increasingly digital world, including the physical workbooks as part of the learning experience has also proven to be a differentiator. Kyra’s customers appreciate the opportunity to pick up an actual pen and paper again, while also engaging in the online learning experience, with every page of their workbook corresponding to an online video. This approach has been hugely successful for Kyra and her business, not only financially, but also because it allows them to deliver a holistic and integrated learning experience to their 10,000+ students. 

How Thinkific helps

Once Kyra had all their content on Thinkific, she began taking advantage of the different teaching and learning tools available, including multiple choice tests, essay tests, mini quizzes throughout to reinforce learning, and of course video submissions from their customers with their own dogs, which are then individually graded. Thinkific quickly became a critical and complementary extension to what they were already doing.

As a fan of Thinkific since day one, Kyra has always found the course creator experience and interface to be familiar, comfortable, flexible and intuitive. This allows Kyra and her team to focus on what matters most – providing a holistic, dynamic learning experience for her engaged and loyal students.

From the beginning, I’ve always had a really positive feeling and experience working with Thinkific. I’m very attached to Thinkific, and I’m happy with it!  – Kyra Sundance, DMWYD founder

Student loyalty

So who are these students, and why do they love DMWYD so much? Kyra’s customers are primarily female, and over the years the demographic has shifted from mostly 55+ year olds, to a much broader age group of active, dedicated dog owners who have the time and resources to do more with their dog.

Kyra prides herself and her business on retaining loyal, repeat customers; once they’re in the system, they are consistently presented with new content, activities, features and community engagement, which keeps them coming back again and again.

One trick dog title leads to the next, and before you know it, her students are advancing from Novice to Expert, up to Grand Champion!

But that customer loyalty isn’t only due to the top tier learning experience, it’s also the nature of what they’re learning. These dog owners go on a meaningful journey to help their pups learn new skills, they become more and more bonded with their canine companions, and that heartfelt sense of accomplishment is just so awesome that naturally, they want to keep going! And that rewarding feeling extends to Kyra and her team when they see their customers grow and succeed with their dogs.

“They learn from us, they have success with their dog, and it’s such an awesome feeling that I think they credit us with that success––even though it’s not us, it’s them! There are just so many warm and fuzzy feelings surrounding that experience, and they just keep coming back for more.”  – Kyra Sundance, DMWYD founder

Community strategy drives acquisition

So how do these dog owners find DMWYD? While Kyra has invested in some paid advertising, using Facebook as an organic community builder has proven to be their primary and most effective source of new student acquisition. They rely heavily on the networks and referrals of their students––which are powerful and credible when it comes to such a personal endeavor that is close to people’s hearts.

Additionally, Kyra has over 4000 certified instructors and coaches all over the world who build their own Facebook groups that they call “Spark teams”, and these coaches get points for every student that joins, so they are incentivized to grow their teams. And these Spark team Facebook groups are extremely active. Team members are encouraged to post their own dog training videos for feedback and support, which of course drives a ton of engagement between fellow dog owners sharing praise, advice, likes and hearts. Who doesn’t love dog videos, right?

DMWYD also sets monthly themed challenges for their communities to participate in. Last month’s challenge was “Summer of Ruff”. Think: purple haze, mellow yellow, the munchies. There’s no shortage of fun, creative ways to keep learning from Kyra and her team of experts, and to do more with your dog!

Kyra’s story is such an amazing example of successfully bringing even the most physical, in-person activity and expertise online. No matter your expertise, whether it’s hula hooping, photography, sewing or dog training, you can reach new audiences and grow your business by teaching what you know with Thinkific.