Today Dom is joined by Sound Proof Puppy App creator and all round, awesome puppy trainer Amy Smith. Amy shares how she didn’t own a dog until her twenties (after wearing her hubby down) but then got the bug for dog training and now helps hundreds owners each year have less puppy problems with their new addition. If you got or are a getting a puppy then this episode is a must watch!
Timestamps[0.32] Meet Rosie the Cocker [1.20] Today we are interviewing a dog trainer from down under, Amy Smith. [2.31] The greyhound round [4.02] Why Amy never had a dog as a kid (and rightly so!) [4.48] How Amy fell in love with puppy training [5.44] Amy’s other animals [6.30] The benefits of being a dog trainer [7.45] The worst thing about being a dog trainer [9.37] Amy’s essential advice if you are getting a puppy soon [11.44] Common puppy problems [14.02] Why sleep is important (for puppy’s and babies) [15.02] How did Amy get the idea for the sound proof puppy app? [17.06] Where to find the app? [18.02] Who to ask if you want something done… [19.59] What you need to do if you are enjoying the show [20.30] Coming up next week, Socialisation and where dog owners get it wrong
Mentioned in this episode
Amy’s Facebook page
Get the App on itunes
Dominic: Hello my bonnie bairns and welcome to the episode eight of the Superhero Dog Owners Show. I’m joined today by a very special guest, Rosie Roo. Rosie is a Cocker Spaniel. She is Sid’s sister. I know some of you know that I own Barry the Bordeaux and Sidney Cocker. Well, Rosie is actually Sidney’s litter mate. She’s his actual birth sister, and Rosier lives up in Northumberland with her mum and dad. She comes to stay with me when it’s a holiday. She’s here for a holiday right now. I also am obviously joined by my very good friend and co-host and producer.
Alex: I thought you were going to forget about me there.
Dominic: And general technical guru, Alex the video guy from Artifact Media. Thank you Alex for setting this up again. Today we have a really awesome interview for you that we recorded earlier this week. It’s an interview with a good friend of mine called Amy Smith. She is a dog trainer from Down Under. Amy is originally from England, but she moved to Australia and she settled Amy’s Puppy Preschool. She’s also responsible for the sound-proof puppy app, which is an awesome app. We’re going to be talking a bit about that as well. Anyway, I won’t rattle on anymore because I want to get straight into the interview, so you can learn lots of stuff from Amy. If you have a puppy, you need to stay tuned, get a pen and paper and make some notes because you’re going to get lots of really interesting hints and tips that’ll help you have a much better relationship with your puppy. Roll the tape, Alex.
Today’s guest is a dog trainer, originally from Aylesbury in the United Kingdom, but now she lives in Sydney, Australia. She owns and runs Amy’s Puppy Preschool, and she’s also the creator of the Sound Proof Puppy app, which I’m a huge fan of, and I always recommend my puppy-training clients use the app. I’d like to give a big hello to Amy Smith. Hello Amy.
Amy: How you going?
Dominic: Good, good, good. Thanks very much for taking the time out of your day to join us. I really, really appreciate it.
Amy: No problems.
Dominic: Are you ready to dive straight in, Amy? We’ve got the greyhound round first. That’s a quick fire round where we like to get to know you a bit better. Are you ready to go off the leash?
Dominic: Brilliant. First question. Who’s your favourite superhero?
Amy: My favourite superhero would have to be Spiderman.
Dominic: Good choice.
Amy: Mother of three boys.
Dominic: Do you prefer Indian or Chinese food?
Dominic: Good call, good call. You’re doing well. Would you prefer to walk a pointer in the park or a beagle at the beach?
Amy: Beagle at the beach.
Dominic: Is it the beagle or the beach that won you over there?
Amy: Either of them. Probably the beach.
Dominic: What’s your favourite dog cartoon character?
Amy: Oh my word, favourite dog cartoon character. Gosh all that can come to mind is Mutley.
Dominic: He’s a good one. He’s a really good one. Yeah, that’s a good call. Finally, red or white wine?
Dominic: Good one. Okay I want to give you nine out of ten, Amy. I was very impressed with those answers today. Well done, well done. Amy, like me, you didn’t own a dog until you were in your 20s. What kind of compelled you to go from just not having a dog to having a dog to wanting to become a dog trainer?
Amy: Sure. A lifetime of love of animals. My parents never allowed me to have a dog, and rightly so. We were a really busy family growing up, lots of sports commitments, my parents worked. It never would have been an ideal situation. However, I pleaded for most of my life to get a dog. It wasn’t until I owned my own home. I had one kid. I’ve got three boys. I had one child, and he was almost five, or he was five, and that was it. My whining went over to my husband, and I won.
Dominic: You won him over much easier than your parents.
Amy: I sort of went off. I did all the standard stuff. I went to puppy school. I learned about how to train him. I sort of went I really like this. This is good. I would like to do this one day. One thing led to another, and it wasn’t long after that. I had actually inquired with the puppy trainer I’d done classes with to find out how on earth it was that one became a dog trainer.
Dominic: Good story, good story. It’s interesting because a lot of people, you know when you tell them what you do, you tell them that you work with dogs and stuff, and you can tell that they love dogs, and they say, similar to what you’ve said, I’d love to have a dog, but I work or whatever. We’re too busy and stuff like that. I always say, hey you’re doing the right thing. I mean, it’s just a responsible thing to do, isn’t it, not to get a dog if you don’t have the time to commit to having one.
Amy: Definitely. I had lots of other animals though.
Dominic: All right cool what like?
Amy: Well, I’ll go from largest to smallest. I’ve grown up with a horse my whole life. My love of riding came when I would come back and visit family in the UK, and my auntie would always take me riding. That was one battle I won here, so it’s not like I was totally animal deprived. I shouldn’t make it sound like I grew up deprived. Then, cats and pocket pets, so rabbits and guinea pigs my whole life, and I still have them even now at 36.
Dominic: What’s the best thing about working with dogs for you? About being a dog trainer?
Amy: If I think selfishly, being my own boss and working my own hours. That’s a great aspect of it. If I think of big picture-wise, I just love helping people. I love people start that journey with a new puppy, and I think most people are very overwhelmed in that time. I love being able to provide the support and assistance to kind of get them through that because they’re often, their minds are blown. They are totally mind-blown by some of the things that you and I can teach them. It’s so rewarding, I think, is a massive thing. That’s a really rewarding thing to know that there are people out there that sing your praises every day about stuff that we find so simple.
Dominic: Yeah, indeed. It’s great when they take it on board, and they do it, isn’t it. Then, they’re teaching their dog. It’s fantastic.
Amy: Yeah totally.
Dominic: What do you, you know, you sort of touched on it there, it can blow you away a little bit when you first get a puppy or even a dog, and it can be quite hard to be a dog owner sometimes. It can be hard to be a dog trainer too, I guess. What’s the worst moment you’ve ever had as a dog trainer?
Amy: I don’t know. There’s probably not one I can say, but there’s definitely stories that come to mind where you can just see that people have made a really bad choice of breed, or a bad choice of dog, or something like that. I find it really difficult when people give up on their dogs. I definitely am supporting the people that should have to. They’ve made a wrong decision, and you really need to re-home. When they’re quite unrealistic about what their reasons are for re-homing, I think I do find that very difficult because for me if you take on an animal, you take on that pet that is your responsibility until it takes its last breath at the end of its life. I’d say that’s probably the hard thing when that sort of stuff comes back. I only have puppies. I only do puppy classes. Early on, I’ve definitely assisted people with early re-homes when they’ve made the wrong decision, or they’ve had a family break up or stuff that is hard. But the ones that give up on their dog, I find them hard. I find that hard.
Dominic: You’re right, I think, if only a big more time could have been given to the decision before they actually got the dog, then it probably could have been avoided, couldn’t it, you know what I mean. Maybe it was never going to be the right fit. You’ve mentioned that you just work with puppies. What, the top three things that you, if someone’s listening to this podcast now, and they’re going to get a puppy at the weekend. What are the top three or four things that that you would recommend that they really should do with their puppy to ensure that they have a really nice well-balanced dog?
Amy: Getting to training straight away because the second that puppy walks through the doors, it’s learning stuff, whether it’s good stuff or bad stuff. I think that if you have an arrival date for a puppy, you have to be booked in for classes that start very, very soon. Getting the puppy … Look, I don’t what it’s like over there, but here we don’t battle so much with vets anymore, especially not where I am. I’m not taking puppies out to get them socialized, so I think that’s a big thing is for people to understand the risks or not risks of taking a puppy out and about and getting them socialized. Around here, on the northern beaches where I live in Sydney, we really don’t have a massive issue. We probably haven’t had a case of parvo virus around here for, I don’t know, 30 years. That’s always a hard one to get across to people because everybody out there is a bit of an expert, and everyone’s always said don’t take the dog out. Making sure that the puppy does get out and about and confident in the world. Then, number three, I don’t know, be prepared for it to not be easy because it’s not easy. It’s never easy. I think most people are quite surprised at how much work it is to bring a puppy into a family especially a family with children.
Dominic: That’s fantastic, really fantastic advice. I think people should be prepared for the work they’ve got to do. The more work you put in at the start, the easier it gets doesn’t it, as time goes on.
Amy: Yeah, definitely.
Dominic: Like you said, for inoculating the puppy against life and getting him outdoors, getting him outdoors early as well, and seeing things is really important too. Awesome, awesome points, Amy. Thanks for that. What are the most common problems that you see in your puppy classes, or what the people bring you?
Amy: Sure, I’d say lots of nipping and biting. I think I get that, do you mean as in people’s issues?
Dominic: Yeah, what do they come and say, I can’t stop them from doing this?
Amy: Nipping and biting and mouthing of kids and things and not much of an understanding how much … I don’t even use the word supervision. I use micro management, how much micro management it takes to have a young puppy around, especially around young kids. That would be the number one thing that I would say people contact me as an issue.
Dominic: How do you deal with that?
Amy: I mean, it’s just a constant support of them, isn’t it. Explaining to them that they really need to have management set up at home, so that they aren’t there with the puppy and kids, they’ve got the ability to have a puppy in a puppy pen or crate training or various things like that. I think they get there in the end, not all of them probably, but most of them.
Dominic: Most of them.
Amy: Without sounding like I’m picking on my clients. What else. Toilet training would be a challenging one here, which I think for you guys, if you think about toilet training a puppy in winter, I don’t know how you do that. I get people here in Australia complaining about it’s cold to go outside at night, and I’m like you should be doing it back in the UK. I think that’s a tough one. Again, they get there in the end. The amount of my clients that start off, I don’t want to crate train, and then five weeks in they’re still cleaning up poo and wee all over the bloody house. They go, do you think it’s too late? I go, it’s never too late to start crate training. You’ll wish you’d done it from the start. I’d say those are the two hardest things, and then just managing and supervising kids and puppies. That would be it as well.
Dominic: Like you said before, having a crate helps so much, doesn’t it. If you can put the puppy in the crate or a playpen with a Kong or a chew or something like that when you’re not able to supervise it. It prevents them from doing what you said before, which was when you bring the puppy home, he’s always learning good and bad stuff. If you can stop him from learning the bad stuff, then your job’s twice as easy, isn’t it.
Amy: And getting that sleep too. I find especially with families with young kids, you get a lot of puppies that aren’t getting enough sleep because they’re constantly being sort of played with. Then they end up really wound up all the time. I think that’s a big one as well. Parents get that when you sort of remind them what it was like when their 6 month-old baby never had a sleep and what those days were like. I think that’s an easy analogy for them.
Dominic: Definitely. Now we’re going to talk about … because you created the Sound Proof Puppy app, which I mentioned before. It’s a fantastic tool, resource, that every puppy owner should have on their phone or their IPad or something like that. I use it all the time. I recommend it all the time. I know dog trainer friends who love it, dog trainer clients who love it. Very well done for making that. If anybody does anything today that’s thinking about getting a puppy, they should go and download the Sound Proof Puppy app now. How did that come about?
Amy: How’d it come about? I used to get, well I still do, I get a lot of tradies. I don’t know if you know what that means. Tradies here in Australia means like workmen, like plumbers and builders. I get a lot of tradies through my puppy classes, and they’ve always got their typical sort of working dog whether it be a kelpie or a cattle dog or a staffy, well that’s not a working dog, but a staffy or whatever. They want to, you know, they’ve got this big goal of having this dog that goes around on the back of the ute with them because that’s really common here too, driving around with a dog on the back of a ute. I would always say to them, listen, I keep saying to you, I want you to take the puppy out and about, but you’ve got to remember that your work site is an unbelievably noise place. Before you take your puppy there and terrify him with drop saws and nail guns, what I want you to do, and I used to say this to them all the time. I want you to get your phone. I want you to record some sounds at your job site. Bring them home. Play them to the puppy while he’s eating his dinner, and that’s going to help prepare him for what it’s going to be like when he comes on site with you.
Every time I would say it, I used to go, geez that’s a good idea for an app. I really should do that one day. I mean, I must have given away my idea that many times. Eventually, I just sort of thought about it, and I went, you know what, getting puppy owners to do stuff like that is so hard. We do our very best to get them to do everything right that we want them to do, but imagine if they had this really easy tool to be able to play sounds to the dog and start getting them comfortable with it. I did it. I did it about three weeks after I had my third child because I had so much time.
Dominic: I’m very pleased you did. I’m very pleased that you did. If people want to go to the ITunes store, is that the best place for them to get that?
Amy: Yeah, ITunes and Google play. It’s available for Android phones as well. If you ever can’t find it, type it into Google. It’s an IPhone app, but it will work on IPad as well. You just have to make sure that you’re searching for IPhone apps when you’re looking for it because a lot of people search from an IPad and can’t find it.
Dominic: Awesome, awesome. Well, we’re at the end of the interview now, Amy, so thank you very much for your time. My last question is when you’re not helping people with puppies or being interviewed or creating apps, how does Amy Smith like to chill out and relax?
Amy: I don’t know if I do. I don’t get a lot of down time. I’m a really busy person. I don’t think I’d have it any other way. I’ve got my three boys keep me on my toes big time. I do Masters Athletics, so I’m a short sprinter as well. That keeps me on my toes, so to speak, no pun intended. I heard a great quote the other day, which I loved, and I’m sure it’s been around for a long time. I had somebody say to me, if you ever want something done, just ask a busy person. I couldn’t agree more because I think it I slow down, I don’t know. I don’t really … I do get some down time. I’ve got two kids in school, but I’m generally quite busy, and I really wouldn’t have it any other way.
Dominic: Good stuff. You sound happy anyway. Well thanks very much for the time, Amy. Where can people go to find out more about you or the app? You got a website you want to tell us about?
Amy: Look I think the best place to go is just social media. I’m really, really active on social media, as you know Dom. You can look up the app on Facebook, and I’ve got a great following on there. I’m quite active on that page. Then, also my Amy’s Puppy Preschool page. I’ve got a lot … I’m always sharing tips and tricks and things like that. I really enjoy sharing my work and making it available for as many people that are interested in it.
Dominic: We’ll put that in the show notes as well, so people can find that as well. Amy, I want to say thanks very much for your time this evening for you, this morning for me. Take care of yourself, and we’ll have you on again some time.
Amy: Awesome. Thanks Dom. Thanks so much.
Dominic: Thank you, bye bye.
Amy: See ya.
Dominic: Wasn’t that awesome? Thank you very much to Amy Smith for that fantastic interview, and for helping. You know I always learn something whenever I speak to all these dog trainers. I’m very luck to be friends with lots of dog trainers all over the world, and I’m very grateful for them to give me some time for the podcast as well. I always like to ask questions that I think I would want to know if I was somebody who had a puppy or whoever it is that I’m talking to. I always pick up information. I hope you guys are picking up information as well, stuff that’s going to help you have a big more fun with your own dog. If you are, then the nice thing to do would be to head over to Itunes and to leave us a review because we want to get more reviews. We want to spread the word. We want to help more dog owners, pet dog owners, have more fun with their dogs. Everybody can be their dog’s super hero. Everybody can be that person that their dog follows around the park like the Pied Piper. Little Rosie Roo is getting a big warm now, so we’re going to go give her a nice drink of water. That’s a wrap for today’s episode.
In next week’s episode, I’m not sure what we’re going to do, Alex. I think we’re going to sit and talk some dogs, but we’re going to talk a little bit about socialization, actually. We’re talking about puppies, and I think we’ll a little bit of a chat about socialization. I think where a lot of dog owners get it wrong with socialization, they feel pressured into their dog … they think their dog has to be every other dog’s friend. It doesn’t really, so we’re going to be talking a bit about that. That’s a wrap for this week’s episode. If you enjoyed it, leave a review. If we don’t see you through the week, then we’ll see you through the window. Thank you, Rosie.