Meet Amanda Gagnon. Actress turned Anthrozoologist turned dog (and people) trainer. Towards the end of 2018, we had the pleasure of spending time with her at the newly renovated doggy digs on West 85th Street where green stable-style doors open into a wide open puppy playing space. About a decade prior to our meeting, Amanda was side-gigging her actress career and took a day job at a doggy daycare center where, she stated passionately: “I loved working with the dogs SOOO much that I never went on another audition. ” At that daycare, she found that many of the dogs had behavioral problems, which is where Amanda’s curiosity in dog training began. After diving in extensively, and unfortunately learning the reality of all the bad care and training out there, Amanda decided to take it on herself. She became an expert trainer and Masters student of Anthrozoology, studying the relationship between dogs and humans across different cultures. Through sharing her unique expertise with fellow dog owners in local parks, buzz spread and eventually led to a large clientele – including many well-known celebrities. As a dog trainer, one of Amanda’s dirtiest secrets is that she spends far less time training dogs than she does training people. When it comes to learning, it turns out humans and dogs are not so different after all. “When you get down to the nitty gritty, we learn in much the same way, it’s just that the rewards are different. For a dog, the reward is a treat, a ball, something tangible. For a person it’s feeling fulfilled, successful, happy. "Yes, Amanda trains dogs to become “good dogs, ” but she is primarily training PEOPLE on how better to fix problematic doggy behaviors, how to communicate better, how to accept the behaviors they cannot fix, and, ultimately, how to have better relationships with their dogs. Amanda expanded on her philosophy: “Typical dog training tends to be so focused on stopping problem behaviors and making your dog perfect, but it doesn’t have to be entirely about that. You should have a good relationship with your dog! You didn’t get your dog so he could sit in a corner and behave all day. You got your dog to go out and meet people and do things and have fun! …The main goal is to help improve your life with your dog. ” From Puppy Socials to Paint-Your-Pet night at her training center, Amanda is as serious about fun as she is behavior training, offering pups and their parents more than just a place to learn new techniques, but also to play and socialize with other like-minded creatures. While puppies are her specialty, Amanda trains dogs of all ages and carries, in store, the best products for the job. One of which are “the perfect dog treat. ” Amanda partnered with Sherri Davis - who came from a successful corporate career managing events for almost twenty years - but found that her traveling precluded her from having her own dog. That all changed in 2016, when Sherri gave her notice and rescued a puppy on February 29. She named her Leap - as in the leap year. Sherri told us that she became a happier person. "Everyone around me was happier, strangers on the street became my neighbors and all because of this little ball of fluff. " She went on to say, "I quickly became a helicopter dog mom and realized the treats on the market were filled with crazy ingredients. After almost a year of testing, focus groups, interviews with nutritionists and vets, I believe we developed the perfect dog treat. " Amuse Pooch launched in 2017, selling their single ingredient, human grade all chicken breast Chicken Chips or 100% USDA Beef Chips, which Amanda keeps stocked in her storefront. According to Amanda, “The idea behind the store is to carry the products that I love and have been recommending to people for years which are usually hard to find, and to keep them at a price point where people can actually afford to train their dogs. ”A true expert in her field, Amanda is welcoming, full of patience, and always able to draw on her vast experience and continuing study of the relationships between dogs and humans, in order to meet the needs of her clients.