Episode 27: Jodi Andersen – How I Met My Dog

Jodi Andersen

How I Met My Dog was founded to custom match adopters with rescue dogs based on lifestyle and individual behavior, rather than breed or love at first sight. Because there are two sides to every relationship, their mission is to give dogs a voice in who they ultimately go home with.

Their algorithm considers Personality, Expectations, and Training styles for every person looking for a dog and every dog looking for a home.

Because of the pandemic this past year, an overwhelming number of people have stepped up to foster and adopt dogs. To help ensure the long-term success of these relationships, How I Met My Dog is now using their ComPETibility algorithm to deliver custom advice to all pet parents.


Know more about How I Met My Dog!

Visit their website at www.howimetmydog.com.

Check out more relationship advice at https://competibility.com/.


Take the ComPETibility Quiz:

For shelters and rescues: https://www.howimetmydog.com/resources/shelter-guide

For adopters: https://www.howimetmydog.com/resources/adopter-guide

For dog owners: https://survey.app.howimetmydog.com/


Follow How I Met My Dog on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Howimetmydog/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/howimetmydog_/

Hi, my name is Jody Anderson, and you’re tuned into the animal innovations show, you’ve tuned into the animal innovation show where we feature people, products, services and ideas that are helping animals and the people who care for them live better lives if it’s innovative and if it helps animals, you can find it here first. So get ready. Here comes this week’s newest innovation for animals. Excellent. Introduction. So Jody, thank you so much for coming on. So tell us who you are and how you’re innovating and helping animals. So again, I’m jodi Andersen, I am a co founder and the chief dog officer of how I met my dog, we started a few years ago actually to solve a problem of four million dogs entering the shelter system every year. And that’s a, that’s a pretty big number and even worse that only half of them were leaving the shelters and not because they weren’t adoptable, but because we tend to, people tend to choose dogs on what they look like or would breed they are. And I’ve been a dog trainer for the past 30 years, a professional dog trainer and the book on dog behavior called the Latchkey Dog. And one of the things that I really noticed is that we choose dogs and then we expect them to fit into our lives when really the most important thing, like any relationship, there’s two sides. So was there a way for us to give dogs a voice so that they could in fact help the shelters and the rescuers find the writer doctors for them for so many years. I heard and I know you have to. The story about my dog chose me, I went to the shoulder and my dog chose me. And as someone who deals in dog behaviour and has spent most of my life with people in their living rooms, with their families and their dogs, it would be so great if we would let dogs choose us because we have a sense of energy that we don’t understand, but the system is such that dogs have no saying who they go, we say I’ll take that one and we bring it home, and if it doesn’t work out, we bring it back and, well, that’s sad. That’s a fact. And that happens with pure breed dogs as well. So even if you’re a great breeder and you have a litter of pups, like siblings were all different just because we’re born of the same parents and we eat the same breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and these puppies were up in the same well, ping box. It doesn’t mean that they need the same thing. They’re individuals. So we set out to ask a very specific set of questions of people who wanted to adopt a dog that would mean who they are, their lifestyle, their training style, if you will, their personality and their expectations of living with a dog. And then we thought, OK, if relationships are two sided, let’s give dogs a voice. And we really did a deep dive into what questions can we ask the rescues or the shelters that they will be able to answer about these dogs, so that the dog can actually figure out which person is the best match for them and it doesn’t involve a shelter having to analyze behavior. Are very detailed algorithm does that? So the shelter just answers our multiple choice questions. The algorithm analyzes and brings to the surface what this dog really needs, based on personality expectations and training style. And then the match comes up, we send the match directly to the adopter and say this is the shelter where this dog is. Yeah, and I love that because you’ve really tried to make it super easy on the shelters and rescues. I mean, you know, they’re already taxed for time and you know, they don’t have time to do full behavior assessments on every single animal. So you guys have tried to make it easy with some really simple questions that underlying that there’s some science and experience and things like that that you guys are bringing, that helps to make a better math. Yes, there is science behind it and we’re really proud of that because when we started this, we said, we’re not doing this to market as acute here. We can make a match. We made sort of this promise to each other that if we couldn’t do this, we wouldn’t do this. So we had enough patients to really collaborate with behaviorists like kelly Bolan shelter experts like Bonnie brown, veterinarians behaviors, some psychopharmacologist like Nicholas Dodman. So we we went to the Mayor’s alliance, leaves Hallenbeck and said and then we went to an and this is important because I always give a shout out to two and lindsey and Alex O’Connor of the massachusetts animal coalition because they were really instrumental in guiding us through the process of what a shelter has the ability to do and not to do. So they really helped us with the blueprint, as did dr Dodman and kelly boland with the blueprint of ask these questions because they’re easy, easier for a shelter to answer and they take a left time and they will still glean the same information and there’s no right or wrong answer whether you’re an adopter or a dog, there’s no right or wrong answer. The object is to bring to the surface those we pinpoint why you would be good for one dog instead of another, and we never show you those dogs are not a match for. So you don’t feel disappointed. No. And I love the fact that you’re marrying them up more than just on the picture. Right? And you know, one of those things that you go to any of the adoption websites and they say, what breed are you looking for? Well, it’s it’s not about the breed, As you said, they’re an individual sentient being. So yeah, there might be some tendencies, but that doesn’t describe the individual animals. Absolutely. And we don’t even show you the dogs profile or the photographs until you are a match. You know, the algorithm first matches you. And we say that we only show you dogs that you should bring home. So we really feel like it increases the odds of a long term successful relationship. Keep the dogs out of the shelters less than the recidivism rates. And just about at the beginning of Covid, we were about 100 and 30,000 adopters and 400 participating shelters that had come through the site and wanted to be matched with with a dog and wanted to work with us. And then Covid hit. So we thought, okay, people really stepped up the national organizations, as you know, we’re thrilled that people stepped up and said, let’s get the dogs out of these shelters and take them out of these rescues and put them into homes. So this sort of dream of having so many fosters for dogs came true. And almost overnight there were parts of the country that had no adoptable dogs where the Northeast hardly has enough dogs. So we import them from the south. We take them as you know, through companies like do Bert and transport them to other places in the country where they have a chance to get the best home. And transport stopped. So transport stopped adoptions. We were having more people writing into the site saying I’m not matching with a dog because in the area that they were willing to travel, there were no dogs. So we put our heads together and said, okay, we worked far too hard to create something that can really help dogs and pet parents. And how do we continue to use this algorithm that otherwise pinpoints which dog would be best off with which person. And we were thrilled that the result was that we can actually do the same thing for people who are already living with a dog. So whether we’re helping fosters have a better experience. So the dogs never go back to the shelters or we’re helping existing pet parents have a better relationship with their dog so that they never have to surrender the same algorithm that we used to match people now can help them have better relationships with their dogs. And we we call that compatibility. So you know, that’s what we’re all about, incompatibility. You attain compatibility when you and your dog or living your best life together, it’s not just you, it’s you and your dog. So we set out to change, we had to pivot a bit and we are now in a position that we’re using this compatibility platform two in addition to our matching, which we still do on how I met my dog dot com. What we do now is any, you can go to hell I’m at my dog dot com and there’s a banner on there that says already living with a dog, you can come on and for free click into our adopter quiz or our pet parent quiz and you can find out the kind of pet parent your dog thinks you are now. And yes, we have that insight and the algorithm pinpoints the same thing, so why not take someone who already is living with a dog and help them make their relationship better? What would you do if your cat stop breathing? Would you be able to check their pulse or perform rescue, breathing and cpr in time to save their life? Getting certified in cat first aid and CPR is essential to being prepared in case of an emergency. That’s why the Animal Rescue Professionals Association teamed up with Denise fleck the pet safety crusader to bring you the courses and certifications. You need to be prepared. Their cat first aid and CpR course will teach you what you need to know about how to find your cats, pulse and respiration rates and how to conduct rescue breathing and see pcR if required. You also learn how to deal with other emergencies like snakebites, bee stings and tick removal so you can render the age or pet requires learn more at www dot animal rescue professionals dot org and get certified today. Yeah, I really love that. I love the fact that you’re pivoting your evolving, you’re taking the knowledge and the hard work and the algorithm that you built and now you’re you’re allowing people to have a better relationship with a dog that they already have. That’s right, that’s right. And it’s it’s actually a lot of fun. We think that the process the workflow is that you do as a pet parent, you do your profile first and then you follow that with your dogs, pet profile. And all you do is fill out our multiple choice questions. The algorithm brings to the surface those areas of your personality and your dog’s personality. There are a great fit and those that could use a little help. And then we do the same thing with expectations. What are your expectations of living with a dog? And what is this particular dogs? What does this dog need to be happy? And we again brings to the surface where things are great and brings to the surface where things could be even better. And we do the same thing with training style. So we then take that information and the algorithm sends you directly no, at no cost. We give you custom compatibility tips on how to have a better relationship with your dog and they’re based on your profile and your dogs to profile. So it’s not generic. So if for instance, you are athletic but your dog is even more athletic. We would then depending on what your scores are in that particular category, we would then send you information that maybe would say chris you know, you and your dog should, let’s increase Two of your aerobic walks by 10 minutes a day, interesting. And that’s great because we know your athletic and we know you’re doing this, we know you’re walking your dog anyway. But if your score comes out that you’re really more sedentary, then what we’re going to do is we’re going to advise that your dog probably needs a dog walker to help you out because we’re not going to ask you to do something you wouldn’t do and that when the dog walker comes home, these are the three things you can do as brain work for your dog to calm that dog down even more. I love the fact that you’re giving very specific advice and tips and again, it’s done based upon me and the relationship I have with my dog and what my dog needs and what I need. And I find that really fascinating because it’s not just you know, hey, you should walk your dog more. As you said, it’s your getting down to that level of specificity. That makes it really personal. Yes. And it and it absolutely is. And and that’s why whether we’re making a match between a doctor and a dog or we’re giving compatibility advice to those people that are already living with dogs. It’s not about people and dogs, it is about you and your dog. So Jody take us back. I mean, how am that? My dog has been out for how many years now. We launched in 2017. We took about some about 2.5 years to do the algorithm before we released it to the wild we found our tech Andy as you know and then we went to the massachusetts Animal coalition. I told them about our idea. We thought let’s pick ST that really doesn’t have a problem with rescue and if we can make them want to use us then we can go to the States that really need us. So we really collaborated and as I said, you know with veterinarians and shelter experts and went door to door and we knocked on the doors of the shelters and said tell us what you need. How can we help you? We want to help you with making a better match. We went to all of the national shows And then we did all kinds of numeric tests on the algorithm. I think we did 900, wow a lot of tests. The algorithm spit out a random adopted with a random dog to make sure that we would go through it one at a time and would we have matched that dog with that adopter if we were in the room with them as sure experts. And then we went to to shelters in massachusetts and they were wonderful and they took groups of dogs and groups of people that they had already matched that these dogs are already in foster care and they knew a lot about the dogs and they knew a lot about the families and they then filled out the families, filled out our our quizzes, our surveys and then we had them shelters fill out about the dogs and we for two months we iterated in the back end of the algorithm until that algorithm and we made the same match that the human being would have made the shelter expert would have made it’s going to say it had to evolve quite a bit right, like lots of feedback and tweaks. And I mean it’s a computer, it can spit it out, but you’ve got to give it the parameters. absolutely. So so then 2017, we released it to the wild and we started to go to the national shows introduce ourselves. It was really great because we had hundreds of people that work in shelters saying, oh my God, this is what we need. You guys don’t focus on greed, you focus on the individual dog. And if someone has Children in the house, we’re not going to show them a dog that doesn’t match with a child friendly environment. And the algorithm behind the curtain, it’s so complex and it’s so and when we took dr Dodman through it, he was so blown away that he said, I think we’d like to do a partnership between how I Met my dog and the Center for canine behavior studies, so that what we’re doing is scientifically concluding why dogs and their people behave the way they do and what’s good for them and what’s better for them. And we could use their scientific findings to integrate with our algorithm so that we could give it a commercial platform, so more people could get more help. I mean, we were thrilled. Really thrilled. Yeah. I really love how far you’ve come and you’ve continued to evolve it and continued to really try and focus on that Human animal bond. What’s next? Where is how I met my dog, going to take this. So we will eventually be how I met my cat, we’ll get there. But more importantly, there’s 90 million plus dogs in households, in this country alone. And if we can reach a percentage of those households And everyone’s on their computer all the time, I mean 50% of the new pet parents are millennials were 53% of the people that use how I met my dog are millennials. So this is the future of pet parenting. So we think it’s really important that we can offer to them and everybody wants customization. I’m not interested in, you know, a pair of jeans. I want the pair of jeans that makes me, I’m not interested in a dog. I want my dog. And if I’m already living with that dog, I don’t want advice. I want advice for me and for my dog. So compatibility is where we’re headed as a sort of a bigger picture. We think the most important thing we can do if we match you first. That’s great. That’s our mission for the shelters is to help her. But if you already have a dog and you simply want advice and post Covid or as we’re winding down with Covid, there’s been articles in the Times, there’s been articles in the journal, there’s been articles in USA today that there’s so many people that have stepped up to adopt dogs and they’re now you can’t get an appointment with a trainer, you can’t get an appointment with event. Everybody is so busy. So how do we get the best advice? So that this relationship that you’re having with this animal that you’re living with is the best it can be. And that’s where we’re headed. We want to serve, we want to serve the entire head parenting population so that we can say to them, you might have a good relationship with your dog, don’t you want a great one. And if you do, there’s two sides to every relationship. You have to have the dog side. So why not find out? You know, people say it all the time. I wish I just knew what my dog was thinking. I got a call this morning, chris from someone who said they went out last night and they created their dog for the first time in a very long time because Covid has kept them home. Their dog used to use a crate and now he hasn’t been in his crate forever. So they went out to dinner first time and they came home and instead of sleeping in the bed with them, their dog went back into the crate and they think the dog is angry that they left last night. And when I said, no, this isn’t anger, this is confusion. You took an old pattern and reintroduced it. And the dog simply thinks that you want them to go back in the crate and they’re not upset and they’re certainly not mad at you, they’re just saying, okay, you switch patterns again. So to be able to tell somebody something like that. Years ago, my practice was private training and I started it in Manhattan. And so I spent the bulk of my career in people’s homes and how they live with their dogs. And before I wrote my book, the one frustrating thing, because it was such a, such a rewarding work. The one frustrating thing was there was only one of me and I could only help one family at a time. Then I had my kids and I thought wow, I have even less time now. So then I wrote my book and I thought this is great because I can help more than one person at a time. And how I met my dog was not originally my idea. It was Marianne Ziemann and she 20 years ago, it was a client of mine. She had two dogs from the same litter from a breeder, pure bred dogs, One was used to call him the mayor of new york and the other one was a fear biter. So you think I went to a breeder, I chose these dogs, they’re from the same litter, one is friendly, the other one will be friendly, well not the case. So I spent quite a long time helping mary ANn and her wife managed the behavior of this fear biter so that she could have a decent life and they could have a manageable life with her and we hadn’t spoken in years. And then the phone rang and Marianne reintroduced herself and said, I have this idea um with match dot com and eHarmony and all these people wanting to be matched with the right person, why aren’t we matching people with the right dog? Why is it so random? And we got together with Sharon Moss and her expertise is marketing, mary. Ann’s expertise is branding and I’m the dog expert and the three of us made this promise that as we build this team, let’s diversify enough that you’ve got the millennials helping us with the tech, you’ve got the tech experts helping us slip the tech and social media with the the youngsters. And we said we all bring something to the table that’s so different. But the mission was, we are going to build something meaningful. This is not a keyword match, this is not a here’s a picture. And while Petfinder has been great for the world of rescue, there really to me, as someone who has studied animal behavior and lived in people’s living rooms for so long, if you can’t get to the bottom of what someone’s expectations are, you’re really not going to be able to make a match. And oftentimes people don’t even know what their expectations are unless you ask. And so that’s what we do. We get to sort of unearth personality expectations and training style who you are. And again, everybody is right. We know you love animals, but maybe you’re not sure how you can get involved to help save the hundreds of thousands of cats and dogs needlessly euthanized every year. Did you know there’s one place you can go to to sign up as a volunteer transporter, foster or even social ambassador for rescue animals, Joubert dot com is custom built by animal rescuers for animal rescuers. You simply create a profile and choose the ways that you can help Do, but is proud to support more than 5000 rescues and shelters and more than 30,000 duper tears just like you working to save animals join us and you can save lives, simply go to www dot google dot com to get started today. Yeah, there’s no wrong answer here. And that’s what I love is that you’re making this very personal and as you said, it’s not just a generic keyword searching thing. It’s it’s really specific to the person into the animal. So jodi if people want to learn more, where can they go? How can they get a hold of you? So how I met my dog dot com. And again, there is this orange banner on the right hand top corner of the site which we have put on for everyone who is not in the market for a dog doesn’t want to be matched with a dog already has a dog, but wants their custom compatibility advice. They go through that little banner, just Lincoln, follow it. Do your quiz, do your dogs quiz and then immediately you’re going to get custom advice and we will then continue to send your compatibility tips that are geared toward what you and your dog need. And if you’re looking for a dog to manage expectations, there aren’t as many dogs on the site right now, which is a great thing, which means that there aren’t as many dogs that need homes right now. But if you’re in the south or certain parts of the country, come on and take our doctor survey and we’ll match you with a dog if we don’t find a dog for you immediately. Every single time there’s a new match that comes in, we will send you an email saying there’s another dog that wants to meet you. Very cool. Well Jody, I think this is really cool what you guys have built and what you continue to iterate on. Is there anything else you want to mention before? Wrap things up today? Yeah, I think the one thing that I want to mention is that people should remember that there’s two sides to every relationship and the one they’re having with their dog is no different. So if you’re trying to figure out what it is that this animal that you love really wants, you have to give your dog a voice, go to how I met my dog and have some fun. We’ll help you give your dog a voice very well stated. I really appreciate you saying that. I think that makes it really easy for people to understand. So thank you Jody for coming on and as a reminder to our viewers and listeners, you’ve got an idea for somebody I should talk to or new product or service you’ve heard about. Just go to innovations dot show and let us know about it. Thank you. Absolutely, I absolutely will. Thank you chris This has been so much fun. Alrighty. Thanks judy for coming on. Thank you for having me. Thanks for joining us for the animal innovations show. If you want to volunteer to help animals check out Dilbert dot com where you can join tens of thousands of do for tears, supporting rescues and shelters around the world to help animals. And if you know if something or someone innovative that’s helping animals let us know by going to www dot innovations dot show


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