A Dog's Life: Q&A with Lantra CEO Marcus Potter
Springer running through water

Published on

May 21 2021

Following the successful launch of the free ‘Getting a Puppy’ e-learning course earlier this year, we have worked closely with our trusted Industry partners to create a suite of training courses and qualifications focusing on companion animals.

During the last year in lockdown, there has been a surge in demand for pets as people have looked for companionship and/or finally had the time to settle a new pet into the home. With restrictions now beginning to lift and individuals gradually returning to offices, some pets are now going to be home alone. This will potentially lead to a greater demand for professional pet services.

We have therefore created this training with the aim of establishing a recognised standard in the industry, allowing individuals to prove they are working to the highest level for both potential clients and insurers. The suite of courses covers vital topics for pet professionals including canine communication and behaviour, microchipping, anatomy and physiology and canine first aid.

With the launch of the suite just around the corner, we spoke with Lantra CEO and Spaniel owner, Marcus Potter, about his love of dogs and why he believes it’s so important to embrace a training standard in the pet professional industry.

Springer Spaniel dog running across field

How long have you been a dog owner? Have they always been a part of the family?

I got my first dog, a working springer spaniel, soon after I got married, 33 years ago! Since then, there has only been six months when we did not have a dog - I really can’t imagine not having one around. I’ve also made a lot of good friends through training and working my dogs over the years.

It’s clear you have a passion for dogs and their welfare, where did this originate?

When we got our first dog, we were quite naïve. However, since then all my dogs have come from rescue organisations, so we are now much more aware of how widespread dog welfare issues are and the consequences when things go wrong. 

There has clearly been a surge in pet ownership during lockdown. As an owner of two dogs, what are the main factors potential new owners should consider?

I think the main thing is that people need to be much more aware and realistic about the time commitment needed, as well as the cost of dog ownership. Some breeds need more exercise than others, but all dogs need time spent with them and mental stimulation. It is not acceptable for dogs to be left home-alone for hours.

There are several TV shows about dogs with behavioural issues and most of the cases the fault is with the owner and not the dog. Unwanted behaviours arise because dogs are not properly socialised, under exercised, bored or in need of attention.

I know two families who have bought puppies during lock-down and ended up returning them to the breeder a few weeks later because they couldn’t cope. People new to dog ownership have no idea how much work a puppy is.

Before getting any dog and especially a puppy, do your research, and be realistic about your level of commitment. 

When searching for professional pet services, such as kennels for holiday boarding or dog walkers, what do you specifically look for?

To be honest, finding pet professionals who you trust can be a nightmare. When we moved house a few years ago, we didn’t know anyone in the area. We followed the obvious steps like checking online reviews and asking people we met walking their dogs in the village, but it still felt a bit like potluck.

Many pet care businesses are set up by people who love animals, but if I’m going to trust you to look after my dog, being a well-intentioned amateur doesn’t cut it. I’m looking for a professional who can demonstrate that they have the right knowledge, skills and behaviours.

Springer Spaniel dog looking up

How important is it, do you think, to establish a universal standard for Pet Professionals and what role can training play?

In any industry where the public have to put their trust in strangers, there are opportunities for credentials to be created. The problem is knowing which ones are worth the paper they are written on. I think that establishing a standard and ensuring that high quality training is available to enable people to achieve that standard is very important, not least to give the public confidence.

The Pet Industry is expanding rapidly at the moment. Do you believe a career as a pet professional is a long-term option and how can someone ensure they are best prepared for the challenges?

We’ve always been known as a nation of pet lovers. Over the last year, many people have discovered that working from home has given them the opportunity and time to settle a new pet into their home, so I don’t see pet ownership declining any time soon.

The pet industry is becoming increasingly professional, partly because of pet related legislation, but mostly because owners expect it. I definitely believe there are long-term opportunities for people who can demonstrate that they are reliable and know what they are doing, which will help to quickly attract a loyal client base.

As in most walks of life, there is a need to keep up with changes in legislation by refreshing your skills - it won’t be enough to have done a course ten years ago. So regular CPD will be essential for pet professionals of the future.

Lantra’s new Training suite covers a range of professional pet services. Which one do you think could have the biggest impact on the sector and why?

I think the Dog Law course has the potential to make the biggest impact on the sector, as despite being a nation of dog lovers, I think many are unaware of their legal responsibilities to dogs and their welfare. APDAWG has really helped to bring attention to such issues and it’s great to see their work continue to bring about change, with the recent Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill receiving Royal Assent at the start of May.

If you want to work with pets, now is the time to start setting yourself up as a pet professional, ensuring that you are trained to the correct level of industry recognised qualifications.

To find out more about our upcoming companion animal training suite, register your interest in our FREE webinar taking place Friday 28th May below.

Register Now


Companion Animal Event Launch Graphic