In this interview I chat to dog trainer, behaviourist and vet nurse Sam Kingston who works for Urban Dogs. We talked about her 15 years in the industry, all about her dog Rufus and her advice for others wanting to work with dogs.(interview starts).
Why did you want to work with dogs full time?
Dogs have been part of my life since I was one, I guess working with them, seeing the horrible side of dog ownership through my job at animal welfare, motivated me to be able to better educate people on how their dogs learn so they can have a happy loving life together and enjoy all the benefits that dogs can bring us. I am passionate about ensuring dogs have a happy life by ensuring people understand that our actions create the good and dog behaviour dogs give us.
How did you become a dog behaviourist and trainer?
It started as an interested with my own dogs then I was lucky enough to form a friendship with a police dog trainer and this really sparked my interest in continuing learning dog behaviour and realising the potential all dogs have.
How do you know what a dog is saying?
Like people there are obvious signs that dogs will give us that show their confidence levels. From my experience over the years learning different temperament types as well as owner personalities will often give me a reading of what they are saying.
What about your own dog Rufus, what is his story?
Rufus came to live with me in April 2002 and is now 13. Rufus was taken off some people that were mistreating him. He failed the temperament test at the shelter where I was working due to excessive fear. Although there was many dogs I was dealing with on a daily basis, Rufus was special to me and I felt he deserved a chance. Initially I fostered him and at the end of the 6 week trial period he was here to stay. Initially he was a lot of hard work because of his excessive fears but we had a great bond so he developed trust with me. One of the highlights for me was seeing Rufus go from being petrified of toys or any object held in my hand due to his mistreated earlier on in life, to him loving toys and playing tug and fetch and learning to swim. It was super rewarding to see him grow into the confident dog he is now. These days life for Rufus is pretty cruisy due to his old age arthritis he can’t play anymore but enjoys leads walks with his friends.
What about dogs that aren't suited to day care how do you feel not letting them in?
I feel confident that we can provide a solution to those dogs that are not immediately suited to the day care situation. I believe that it is important that each individual dogs needs are taken into account when deciding if they are suitable for a group play environment for the sake of all dogs in the facility. There are different situations that dogs won’t be suitable for day care such as learned behaviour, physical health and age.
Is there any breed of dog you like best?
Personality is the biggest factor not breed, I like a dog who likes to have fun. I like the look of an English bull terrier
How many people/dogs have you helped over your career?
I honestly don’t know - many thousands. During my 15 years in the industry there has been many experiences I have been privileged to be part of. My satisfaction is people that are passionate about their dogs and watching both owner and dog enjoying their life together.
What would you say to other people wanting to work with dog’s full time?
Do what feels right for you, don’t take everyone’s word as gospel. Try and expose yourself to as many trainers and behaviourists as possible as there are many different techniques and styles. The proof will be on how the dog is responding.
Thanks for your time and sharing your experience (interview ends).
Sam Kingston bio:
Senior Pack Leader/Dog Behaviourist/Trainer/Vet nurse
Sam has completed a Certificate in Canine Behaviour & Training, Certificate in Animal Welfare Investigations, Dog Control and Animal Care.Sam has been teaching dog training, behaviour classes and consultations for 10 years, was an animal control officer for 6 years, spent 8 years working as a vet nurse and has tutored the Canine Behaviour Training course.
Sam has assisted the Regional police training officer in dog training classes for members of the public, has conducted assessments for potential police dogs and has completed temperament assessments for drug detection dogs. Her passion is ensuring that owners are educated in understanding their dogs behaviour so they live a happy life together.