About Us

Meet Smartypaws owner and trainer, Debra L. Murray.  I have been a dog trainer for over 13 years!  I graduated from Michigan State University with a BS in Education, and found my passion in teaching dogs and their people after moving to Kansas City in 1998.

Inspiration for Smartypaws; Jake and Jesse


It all started with my two golden boys, Jake and Jesse. They were both golden retrievers, but had completely different temperaments, abilities, personalities, and energy levels. I dove into everything from basic obedience training to agility, therapy work, rally-O, and doggie freestyle (that’s doggie dancing) in order to find the activities that each pup enjoyed and excelled at. I realized that once I focused on their individual characteristics and personality, I could optimize their training and more successfully elicit appropriate behaviors. This understanding is what allows me to offer my training clients unique, customized solutions that work.

I spent almost 10 years as a trainer at a local pet store while staying involved in continuing education training courses and activities. This environment provided me the opportunity to train thousands of dogs of just about every breed and size, including many blind and deaf dogs. I then moved on to focus on animal therapy work and became an Evaluator and Program Director for a local non-profit pet therapy organization. I am an accredited Pet Trainer, AKC Canine Good Citizen and S.T.A.R. Puppy Evaluator, licensed presenter for Family Paws Parent Education, and professional member of Heartland Positive Dog Training Alliance.


I have a wonderful husband of 16 years, 3 beautiful children, and one rescued golden girl named Emma.  (It’s really strange having only one dog right now, but I’m working on getting my hubby on board to add a few more to our family!). I am a homeschool mom, and volunteer training services and foster care with different animal rescue groups in the Kansas City area.  Emma is a certified therapy pet and R.E.A.D (Reading Education and Assistance Dog) dog.  She is also CGC certified.


  • Debra was so wonderfully helpful when she came to do a home visit to help us help our dog, Lexus. I was worried I'd be made to feel guilty, but Debra was very understanding of our situation. I was also concerned she'd give us a bunch of suggestions we wouldn't be able to commit to, but she really worked with our time and lifestyle and gave us suggestions that can work for us and our dog. What a relief!

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