When Linda Hill hit a career crossroads, she realized she loved dogs, and she loved training them. She began researching careers that would let her pursue that passion, and while doing so, she discovered the Zoom Room.
Southwest Florida’s first Zoom Room Dog Training, part of a franchise dedicated to training dogs in obedience and agility, held a soft opening at 7740 Preserve Lane, Suite 12, in North Naples, inside the Bougainvillea Center strip mall off Immokalee Road. A grand opening is slated for Aug. 19.
Prices of classes vary. For example, a three-month, eight-class package costs $299. Class sizes are limited to up to six dogs, and there are annual memberships offered that include 36 to 52 classes per year as well.
“The training is based on positive reinforcement, which means we reward dogs for doing the right thing, but we don’t punish them for doing the wrong thing,” Hill said. “That is where the bond starts.”
Zoom Room offers puppy preschool for 8- to 16-week-old puppies, Puppy Plus for 4- to 6-month-old puppies and obedience/advanced obedience, agility/advanced agility and puppy/small breed/medium breed play groups.
The latter option functions almost like an indoor dog park, Hill said, which works well given the intensity of the region’s summer heat.
“My friends and I talked about how hot and humid it was for us and the dogs, not to mention the daily showers, preventing a minimal amount of socialization during the summer,” Hill said. “I thought, wouldn’t it be great to have an indoor dog park? I have so much interest in dog training and how humans are able to communicate with dogs. If you ever watch dog agility or rally tournaments, the bonding between them is fascinating. I actually get teary-eyed.”
Zoom Room also offers private training and rents out the space for dog parties.
The front of the business contains a store selling dog treats, natural dog chews, toys and puzzles, which can be filled with food for the dog to unlock.
“Some dogs are toy-motivated,” Hill said. “Other dogs are treat-motivated. If you want them to change the behavior, you have to teach them to change their behavior.
“It can’t just be saying ‘good boy.’ It has to be a jackpot. We call it a high-value treat. You can’t give a piece of kibble. It has to be something they consider to be an amazing dinner.”
The path to opening Zoom Room has been a long one for Hill, with Hurricane Ian and other issues delaying the opening from February. But Hill has put those challenges behind her as she prepares for the upcoming grand opening.
The agility equipment on hand is identical to what’s used at American Kennel Club events.
“Depending on their age, we teach them puppy kindergarten,” Hill said. “We make sure there are no problems with potty training. If they are beyond that, they can go to Puppy Plus training. It’s also a little bit of agility and tricks. If they are able to test out of the motor skills, they can go into obedience. They can go into advanced obedience.”