Dog Pampering Trends – Fashion, Accessories, Grooming, and More With Em Gangur and Amelia Perry (Episode 31)

Dog Pampering Trends - Fashion, Accessories, Grooming, and More With Em Gangur and Amelia Perry

The way we pamper our dogs has changed a lot in recent years. From new accessories, luxury experiences, and premium grooming, dogs are being treated better than ever.

In this episode of The Dog Show, I talk with Em Gangur and Amelia Perry from DOGUE – a unique and stylish brand dedicated to enriching the daily lives of our canine friends through boutiques, grooming, playtime, and accommodation services.

We discuss the current trends in dog pampering. Including trends about perspectives, habits, purchasing behaviour, fashion, accessories, luxury dog services, and even some predictions about the future of dog pampering.

DOGUE has ten retail boutiques across Australia, an online shop, a range of dog grooming and care services, and even a luxury boarding retreat.

Em joined DOGUE in 2015 after completing her diploma in Animal Technology and manages their flagship store situated in Bondi Junction. Amelia’s journey at DOGUE started in 2012 and she is currently in charge of the wholesale arm of the business where she manages product development, launch strategies, and the sales distribution of DOGUE’s unique collections.

Find out more about DOGUE here:

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Subscribe on YouTube




Will: This episode of “The Dog Show” features Em Gangur and Amelia Perry. Em and Amelia are part of the team at DOGUE, a unique and stylish brand dedicated to enriching the daily lives of our canine friends through boutiques, grooming, playtime, and accommodation services. DOGUE has 10 retail boutiques across Australia, an online shop, a range of dog grooming and care services, and even a luxury boarding retreat.

Em join DOGUE in 2015 after completing her diploma in animal technology, and manages their flagship store in Bondi Junction. Amelia’s journey at DOGUE started in 2012. And she is currently in charge of the wholesale arm of the business, where she manages product development, launch strategies, and the sales distribution of DOGUE’s unique collections. In the interview, we discuss the current trends in dog pampering, including trends about perspectives, habits, purchasing behaviour, fashion accessories, luxury dog services, and even some predictions about the future of dog pampering. Emily and Amelia from DOGUE, thank you so much for coming on “The Dog Show” today.

Together: Thank you for having us.

Will: Yeah. I’m really excited to have a chat. We’re both based in Sydney. But we are doing this from a distance, which is I guess, something I’m still getting used to. But it should be a bit of fun. Before we jump into everything about DOGUE and all the cool stuff you’re doing there. I’d like to chat to you both about your history with dogs a little bit more. Maybe we should start with Amelia because you actually have a dog of your own at the moment I believe. Do you wanna tell me a bit more about Daesil [SP].

Amelia: Sure. I’ve always been an animal person. I can’t actually remember a time in my life where we didn’t have at least one dog in our family. And as a child, I’m actually pretty sure I wanted to be a dog for a few years there. There’s a lot of photo evidence of me eating and drinking out of water bowls and crawling around with dog toys in my mouth. So, I’ve always had a pretty positive experience with dogs. And at the moment, I have a bit of a senior at home. So, Daesil, he’s a 12-year-old Labrador cross, and he’s just, he’s my best mate. Way too smart for his own good, very cheeky, and he’s he’s becoming now very bossy in his old age as well, which is fair enough.

Will: It’s funny you mentioned that about wanting to be a dog when you younger. One of my nephews always wants to get into our dog’s bed for some reason, and just cuddle up.

Emily: They can be as close, yeah.

Will: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, do you know what Daesil’s crossed with? You said Labrador cross. Do you know what the other breed is, or…

Amelia: I do, yes. So, he’s a Labrador cross Kelpie poodle, so he’s a bit of a mix. He was a mistake, but he was the best mistake that I fought for.

Will: So, would you say, I guess if you’ve had history with Labradors, he predominantly acts like a Labrador, his personality is similar? Or is there a bit of Kelpie and poodle mixed in there as well?

Amelia: Yeah. Look, he’s got a bit of that kind of cheeky, bossy Kelpie side to him. He’s pretty energetic as well. But then Labrador with food, he’s, yeah, look, he’s an absolute greedy guts. He can’t get enough of his food. So, he’s got a probably a good mix of all kinds of three breeds, which is nice.

Will: And how has he been 12 years old? I imagine you’ve had a long time to see what he’s like from a health perspective. I’m always interested to see from, like, a pure breeds versus the crossbreeds, how that’s looked like. Have you noticed that he’s been more healthy than the traditional pure breeds, or…

Amelia: Look, I mean, I think we’ve been pretty lucky with him. He’s been relatively healthy his whole life and even as a 12-year-old now, he’s still able to go on his hour and a half weekend walks around the beaches of Sydney, and he’s starting to get a little bit of arthritis and his eyesight’s definitely starting to go but it’s really just all been old-age-related health issues. Not so much anything, I think from kind of a mixed breed versus pure breed aspect.

Will: Okay. That’s interesting. So, yeah, I mean, I guess those things are natural that just happen, right, as dogs get older, but as we get older as well.

Amelia: Absolutely.

Will: Yeah. Okay. So, Emily, strangely enough, you…well, not strangely enough, but for this show, I guess it’s strange, you have three cats?

Emily: I do. Yes. I do have a Border Collie, but she passed away about a year ago at 15 and a half, so she did well.

Will: Wow. Yeah. That is a really good innings actually.

Emily: Yes, She did well. But, you know, we’ve got cats now.

Will: Okay. So, I actually love the names of your cats, though, Pineapple, Pancake, and Prawn. I think it’s hilarious. And it just kind of makes a lot of sense to me. I’ve always wanted to have a second dog where I could combine the names, that kind of stuff. So, I’m interested to hear more about…I’ve never had any experience with cats. And I’ve always kind of, like, associated being a dog person. But I’d like to hear your perspective on how cats and dogs differ, and maybe some similarities as well.

Emily: Yeah. For sure. I mean, a big part for us. I mean, you have to have a cat to really have that connection with them. Unlike dogs, they don’t just go up to anyone. When you are their owner, though, they are so affectionate. To me, they act like dogs. But I know it’s harder for other people to see that just because they are a little bit more one-owner orientated, unlike dogs are. One thing that I have focused on is with working at DOGUE for the past five years is how I can incorporate my knowledge of dogs to my cats.

So, I’ve actually taught both my cat’s Pineapple and Pancake. Prawn we haven’t actually got yet. She’s still under the age we can get her. But they can sit high five, beg, and do tricks, which I’ve done with the same training method that we would with a dog. So, exactly the same processes, I’ve managed to do it with the cats. Difference is they need to see the treat to do the tricks, whereas the dog will do it for a pat or a praise. So that’s a big difference between them too. But it’s very interesting to see that they can still do the same things that the dogs do.

Will: I guess, yeah, some dogs will do it without seeing the treat, but not all.

Emily: [inaudible 00:06:46]. But cats, I have to show them the treat, and they know we’re in training mode.

Will: Yeah. I guess it’s interesting that those instincts are similar, the training instincts.

Emily: Yeah. It’s really cool. Yeah, I really enjoy showing people how cats can be. They’re not just an animal that sort of is not seen, which a lot of them do hide. They can be a little bit more out there like dogs can be as well.

Will: Yeah. So, you obviously deliberately named them all the Ps and I guess food-related things. What happens if you get a fourth cat?

Emily: Well, our dog that we are gonna get we’ve already decided will be called Pringles. So we’re still going with the P food trend.

Will: Very cool. So, you have three cats and a dog in the house. What type of dog are you looking at?

Emily: When we get a dog, we haven’t got it yet, but I’ve already planned for the name because I know it has to match with our now trending of P-food names.

Will: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, you have your hands full definitely with that hassle, I’m sure. Okay. So, DOGUE is actually transformed from a small boutique accessory business for dogs. And now you got grooming services, you’ve even got luxury boarding, and there’s 10 different retail stores around Sydney. But how did you both end up working for DOGUE? We’ll jump back to you, Amelia. Do you wanna give me your story first?

Amelia: Yeah, sure. So, my grandparents actually lived in the same street as our CEO Margaret Hennessy. So, I was actually introduced to the business pretty early on. And I just I loved the DOGUE brand, I thought the name and the logo was the best thing ever. I loved the service offering. So, I actually reached out to Margaret for some work experience towards the end of high school. And I started at the Bondi Junction store in retail. And now I click my fingers, and it’s eight and a half years later, and I’m still here.

Will: Yeah. That’s cool. And Emily?

Emily: I’m actually from Adelaide, originally. And five years ago, I decided to make the move to Sydney. The animal industry in Adelaide isn’t nearly as strong as it is in Sydney. And I’d done all my studies in Adelaide and knew there was less opportunities. I actually contacted DOUGE about two months out before I moved over as they were looking for a store manager. At the time, they said they needed to fill the spot sooner but to give them a message when I got to Sydney. And I did and it happened that the new manager they hired, it just didn’t work out that exact week that I moved over. And again, like Amelia, I click my fingers, and it’s been five years. It was my anniversary last week.

Will: Congrats.

Emily: Everything I’ve known about Sydney has also been DOGUE, so it’s been amazing.

Will: It says a lot about the brand, I guess that you’ve both been there for so long as well, it must be a good place to work. And it seems like… And this is what we’ll get into next. I guess it just seems like it’s constantly evolving and adapting to the world of dogs as it evolves.

Amelia: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s been a great eight and a half years, and it’s been the same for the five years.

Emily: Yeah. It’s been awesome. We’re very lucky where we work.

Amelia: Yeah.

Will: Yeah. So, Amelia, how do you kind of…speaking of DOGUE and how it’s evolved over the years from just accessories to grooming and services, and luxury boarding, and all these different things, how do you keep your finger on the pulse of those changing trends in what dog owners are looking for?

Amelia: Yeah. Sure. I mean, look, it’s not easy, in particular, with products, that product development timeline, especially it can be so long. So, you do really need to try and predict, I guess what products, what colours, what trends are gonna work 6 to 12 months down the track. And we’re not always gonna get it right. But it definitely helps to be always talking and listening to your customers, getting as much feedback from them, keeping up with what’s happening in the pet industry and the fashion industry, not only in Australia, but also overseas in America and Europe and just drawing inspiration from what they’re doing and your customers.

Will: That’s interesting. So, would you draw inspiration from human fashion as well? And then maybe that’s not raised to pet industry. Have you seen that happen at all where it kind of transfers across a little bit?

Amelia: Yeah. Absolutely. And, I mean, I think as well, customers are more often than not wanting to also match with their dogs. So, we definitely take that into consideration when we’re designing products, what is gonna be the trends for humans in 6 to 12 months, and then we try and apply that to what you might want for your dog as well, so it definitely becomes part of it.

Will: I guess that’s a trend in itself that matching. I think, maybe a little while ago, matching with your dog was something which it may have happened, but it was more simple. These days, it’s like you’re matching everything, even in your house, like your home decor, all these different things are matching with what your dog has, right?

Amelia: Yeah, absolutely. It’s becoming a lot more popular to do that. And of course, we try and, yeah, design all of our products to match the home and the lifestyle as well for our customers. So it’s pretty important.

Will: I wonder, do you think that kind of approach is more prominent in Sydney as well? Or do you think it’s more of a global thing?

Emily: I’m gonna say coming from Adelaide, Sydney is a whole new world compared to where a lot of the other states are probably alone [SP] around the world, because I was very surprised when I moved to Sydney about DOGUE in general because I’ve never seen anything like it.

Will: Fair enough. I can imagine there’s lots of other cities in the world that are similar, maybe Melbourne as well, an Australian perspective from that, a style and fashion side of things, but…

Amelia: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, yeah, America and Europe as well, you see similar similar trends. So, it’s definitely not just Sydney. It’s definitely happening all around the globe.

Will: What kind of changes have you seen over the last decade apart from the ones we’ve just discussed there? And maybe Em you can share some insights in the in-store environment as well of, like, how kind of perspectives of owners have changed, or their habits, or maybe their buying experience, that kind of stuff.

Emily: Yeah. For sure. I mean, one thing that we’ve really noticed, even in the last five years I’ve been there, is dogs are becoming a much bigger part of the family now, they’re more of a family member than a dog that sort of just hangs out in the backyard. And we’ve noticed people these days are even leaning towards not having kids and families, and their dogs are becoming that member of their family, which has been amazing. And it’s been shown a lot, especially in things like the type of foods they’re feeding them or the products they wanting to get them.

They wanting the more premium options, they wanting the healthier or the better quality stuff for their pets these days. It’s not just the cheap, quick, and easy option anymore. And we’ve also noticed even fun things, like being in the store, I’ve had people come in who are attending dog weddings, and they need to get gifts for the the bride and the groom, or it’s a birthday present they’re needing to get. And even if it’s for the owner, they’ll get a present for the dog instead of for the owner because it makes the owner happy. But that’s how their birthday’s celebrated.

So, there’s some of the big things we’ve noticed, even with things like COVID coming into play, we’ve seen a huge increase in dogs coming into the world. Everyone’s looking for companionship, which means we’ve seen an increase, especially in our grooming services, and our retail services for people needing more things for their dogs these days. So, there’s been a huge change. And we can only see that growing more as dogs aren’t going to get any less important in our families.

Will: Yeah. Exactly. It’s interesting you bring up that gifting thing. I know that my wife loves giving our dog a Christmas present every year, and it’s, like, the happiest thing of her whole year when she sees our dog actually open the present in front of her.

Emily: Yeah. My cats have Christmas stocking, so I get it.

Amelia: I think Daesil more often than not has more Christmas presents than me, and he actually gets incredibly excited on Christmas morning to open those presents. But I especially remember, I think it was last year, we’d come downstairs in the morning, and obviously, he’d been up at night because there was some paw prints in some of the presents already on the trays. So he couldn’t help himself. But it’s great to kind of get them so involved in those holidays, and they do become just such a huge part of your lives.

Will: Yeah. I guess you got to be careful if there’s any food or chocolate, or something.

Emily: Yes. Definitely, hugely, don’t leave those out.

Will: Yeah. Definitely. I haven’t heard of a dog wedding before actually. Were you referring to, like, dogs partaking in human weddings, or were you talking about dogs getting married?

Emily: Dogs getting married. I had [inaudible 00:15:05], so I think I had about four different people coming in who were actually attending the same wedding, saying, “We need a gift for a dog wedding.” And I was, like, there’s nothing surprises me anymore in the industry.

Will: Yeah. That’s the new level. I don’t know how…whether the dogs are deciding if that’s their choice or not.

Emily: I think it’s an arranged marriage.

Will: Yeah. I think so. I think so. So, I guess you mentioned, Em, about the future as well, and dogs continually getting more important in our lives and us wanting to, I guess, invest more money and time into them. Is there anything else that you both see as trends moving forward in this space?

Amelia: Yeah. I mean, I think dogs, as Em said, like, they’re not just part of the family now, but they’re actually becoming a lot more involved in our everyday lives. So, I think that demand for more retail and service offerings, we’re gonna start to see more businesses in other unrelated industries try and enter the pet industry, the push towards more dog-friendly venues and spaces, so pubs and restaurants. And, I mean, five years from now, I’d love to be able to see dogs entering shopping centres, and being able to travel on public transport. I think there’s a lot of exciting kind of change ahead. And that is really, too, because dogs are such that integral part of our lives now.

Will: Yeah. It’s interesting when you go to the United States, for example, and you can fly in a plane domestically with your dog, or you can…

Amelia: That would be so cool.

Will: …go into the supermarket. And I know that…I remember I was, like…I can’t remember where I was. It was somewhere not far away from Sydney on a little getaway with our dog one day, and we were standing outside, she was really hot, and she was overheating. So, I was, like, “I need to take her into the air-conditioned supermarket.” And they kicked me out. And I’m, like, “My dogs like about to kill over here. Can I just stay here for five minutes to cool her down?” It’s such a different way of thinking. But, I mean, I hope you’re right. I hope it does keep moving towards that.

Amelia: Yeah.

Emily: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, I was able…I visited America a few years ago, and I was just stunned at what I…I was seeing dogs in cafes sitting up at the table next to the human having a a babyccino, a doggyccino, so to speak. And I think when we were coming home, there was a poodle being led on into first class. And here I am back in coach. So, there they are really leading the way in terms of dogs really being part of your everyday lives, which is incredible.

Will: It’s probably because I think you’ve got to change the perspectives of people here, though, like, for example, if they saw a dog in Woolies, or something like that, they would be, like, “What’s going on here?”

Amelia: [crosstalk 00:17:44] that’s wrong, yeah.

Will: There are some restaurants and stuff that’s starting to, like, dog…bigger stations and those kind of things, which is cool. In Sydney, we hear more about I guess, DOUGE now that we’ve talked generally about dog trends and all that kind of stuff. Do you wanna give me a bit more of an understanding of your process for creating new products and all that kind of stuff and how they end up getting to market?

Amelia: Yeah. Sure. I mean, we…I think nowadays, we’ve really been focusing on Australian-made products. I think, now more than ever, we’re seeing more and more consumers coming into stores wanting to know where products are made, what they’re made from, and how they’re made. So, for us, that’s been a really crucial driver when it comes to product development.

So, we already have a few Australian-made ranges, we’ve got a leather walkway range, some health and beauty products, and a new treat range as well that have been perceived really, really great. And it’s just becoming increasingly popular to have those authentic Aussie-made products. So that is, I guess, has really been the forefront for us when it comes to design and making sure we’re incorporating that into our product plans for the next 6 to 12 months and into the future.

Will: That’s interesting, because I think, especially with the year that we’ve had people are more cognizant of that. But also, there’s so much…there’s still uncertainty, right, around how the global economic environment will keep operating.

Amelia: Yeah. Absolutely.

Emily: Which we’ve noticed in stores as well with that in getting in products that are from overseas and things like that, who we would usually have a really good relationship with, even just the wait time on being able to receive those products into Australia. It put a real strain on this winter, especially with winter products and things. So, we’re definitely going to have to adapt to more Australian products for that reasoning as well.

Amelia: Yeah. [inaudible 00:19:35].

Will: Yeah. Definitely. So, what would you tell someone that wanted to know more about DOGUE? Where should they start? How can they familiarize themself with the brand? And then what should they do first to actually interact with it?

Amelia: Let me go with that one.

Emily: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Amelia: It’s an interesting that one because there’s such different aspects to DOGUE. So, from where I stand, I work in one of the stores. We’re pretty well known mostly in our stores for our grooming, and our day-care facilities with the retail on the side, of course. So, from my point of view, it’s the increasing dogs and the love of dogs is the grooming world basically.

So, people come to DOGUE to get their dogs groomed. One of the challenges however, for our future of grooming is not having international travellers, much like the hospitality industry, we rely heavily on our inter, so overseas workers for our grooming teams and things like that. So, it is gonna be a really interesting next 12 months on how that industry survives as strongly as it has been, especially with the increase in dogs coming into Australia.

So, we are working on that challenge at the moment, as well as the decrease in need for playtime and day-care services with more people being at home as well looking after their own dogs. So, we are doing a bit of a restructure and adapting to how we can with it and doing a really strong focus on things like our products and other ways that we can be helping animal lovers to keep the care for their dogs as strong as possible.

Will: So, this is probably a side note, but as you were talking about the international travel, that kind of stuff, I mean, Bondi where your store is, is obviously a very tourist kind of driven area. Have you noticed a decrease in retail? I guess it’s hard to tell because retail probably decreased in general anyway. But have you noticed significant decrease in kind of foot traffic?

Amelia: I’d love to say yes, but I would love to, we’ve been incredibly lucky. It’s really showing the resilience of our business, as well as the resilience of the pet industry. We actually stayed incredibly busy through COVID. With some of our stores, including our own, during record-breaking months, during the midst of COVID, I think it was just due to the fact of people not being able to spend on themselves, they have that care for their dogs.

So, they wanted to keep spoiling their dogs more than ever and being home with them more. It was, “They should have a bed in every room, or let’s be feeding there the best quality food because I have the time to focus on my dog more than I probably did before.” So, the pet industry in general actually flourished quite well during COVID, which I think is a good thing, because it really showed how much people really do care for their pets.

Will: Yeah. And I think, as I was thinking about it, I guess most people that are pet owners are probably not tourists anyway.

Amelia: Yes. I would say so. I mean, definitely the foot traffic, you can see a decrease on, but honestly, we were incredibly lucky. And we really worked well as a company to strive as the best as we could during the hardest times of COVID. I mean, not to say that we didn’t have challenges, our fair share challenges during this time. There definitely was. We had to shut all of our Melbourne stores, of course, and we did lose quite a bit of revenue as well through our retreat not being able to really cater for dogs because no one was going on holidays.

So, it was a really kind of interesting time. But I guess it really forced us to then think of other ways that business could operate. So, for example, the retreat would then just focus on playtime and grooming, which they’ve not really focused on before in the past, but it’s actually turned out to be a good thing for them in terms of kind of diversifying that model, so you just kind of, you learn to adapt to what’s happening, that as Em said, the pet industry and our businesses ended up being really resilient, which is great.

Will: What does the experience look like at the retreat? If I was to book my dog into the retreat what happens next?

Amelia: I wish they had a human one on the side. It’s a beautiful big property up in the Southern Highlands. The way I explain it to customers when they ask me about it in store, it’s not really a kennel, it’s a beautiful, big farm where they’ve got amples of space to be able to run around, get to bond with other dogs. One thing I have noticed, being in the midst of Bondi, I would say, the dogs are very humanized, which is great.

But it’s a place where they can sort of go back to being a dog, run around and get dirty on a farm. They have their own individual suites, which they get to stay in. They have a big room where they’ve got TVs and couches. I’ve had customers explain it to me as a fat camp. So, some of their dogs go there and they get into better shape from all the exercise they’re doing. So, it’s really wonderful. And you can just see how happy the dogs are when they go down there. It’s such a nice place to send your pets if you needed them to go somewhere.

Emily: Yeah. It’s a home away from home. Really, and that’s what everyone wants when they’re traveling. They just wanna make sure that their dogs are as well looked after as they can be, so the retreat definitely offers that.

Will: Yeah. Absolutely. Do you find there are any personality issues with some dogs, you have a vetting process for what dogs are allowed to come?

Emily: Yes.

Amelia: Yes. All dogs who come in for playtime and grooming, and the retreat, they do have to be…come in for an assessment beforehand. I mean, like kids at day-care, not everyone is gonna get along. But it’s more waning out, not the dogs that don’t get along, but it’s about if they’re having a good time, too, and sometimes playtime. Sometimes sending them away isn’t good for the dog themselves. They just don’t enjoy it, and it’s finding alternative options for them, like having a dog walker come and pick them up for an hour rather than leaving them in day-care all day. Some of them just don’t settle. And it’s not fair on the dog to put them through that.

Will: Yeah. Okay. Well, I think if I was to summarize what we just discussed about getting to know DOGUE, as a new person who hasn’t heard of you before, I would say, if you’re close by one of the retail stores, go and check it out, especially Bondi because you get to meet Em, if she’s around.

Will: Otherwise, jump on the website, which I’ll share in the notes, and just familiarize yourself with all the amazing things you’re doing because there’s a lot going on. But it all channels down that kind of same brand around dog pampering and looking after…treating your dog or your pet like a prince or princess, I guess.

Amelia: Definitely.

Emily: Yeah. Absolutely.

Amelia: We would like to…we basically would like to call ourselves a community of passionate dog lovers who are motivated to provide the best care for all of our four-legged friends. It’s how we summarize ourselves.

Emily: Yeah.

Will: That’s a good summary, much better than the one I gave. So, is there anywhere else people can check out what you’re doing, or does it sound like the websites the best place to go for now?

Emily: Websites, yeah, pretty good place to kind of get an understanding of what we do and who we are. But definitely, also give us a follow on Instagram and Facebook for all of our awesome doggie content. And that handle is at Club DOGUE, so people can find us there.

Will: Yeah. Perfect. Cool. I’ll share that as well.

Emily: Thanks.

Amelia: Thank you.

Will: So, Em and Amelia, thank you so much for coming on “The Dog Show” today. I’ve had an absolute exciting time myself, and I hope you have as well. I’ve learned a lot about DOGUE, but also about the trends in dog pampering and just dogs in general.

Amelia: Yes. Great. Thanks, Will. It’s been a blast.

Emily: It’s been awesome.

Will: Great. Thank you.

Amelia: Thank you so much.

Emily: Thanks, Will. Bye.

Amelia: Bye.

From Our Store

Dog Pampering Trends - Fashion, Accessories, Grooming, and More With Em Gangur and Amelia Perry (Episode 31)