Introducing a dog into a human household is potentially a clash of cultures. Dog behaviours that humans want to label as “bad” are viewed as normal dog behaviours in the dog’s culture. It is the responsibility of the humans to refine the dog’s behaviours by eliminating the unwanted behaviours without punishing the dog.
We describe our approach as “Balanced” as we promote two major engagements with the dog:
- To create the behaviours we want, we set up the dog to give us those behaviours and positively reinforce the behaviour so that the dog will naturally want to repeat those behaviours.
- To discourage the behaviours we don’t want, we take away something that has meaning to the dog at that time, e.g. if the dog is jumping on us we take away our attention and movement until the dog calms or sits and we reinforce that alternate behaviour.
We never ever administer an aversive to the dog. We do not shout, pull against the dog on a lead or intimidate a dog in any way.
It is the humans’ responsibility to clearly define, reinforce and maintain the desired behaviours of a dog through consistent interaction and regular training.
It is crucial that before a puppy is 18 weeks of age he/she has learned that it is not acceptable to break the skin of humans or other animals. Before 18 weeks of age a puppy needs to have been systematically and positively introduced to a wide variety of methods of handling, new sights, sounds and sensations. This will prepare the dog for a confident and secure journey into adulthood. We have woven these facts into our puppy programs. This is what makes our puppy classes so unique and successful.
Background Experience: Diploma of Teaching, Graduate Diploma of Special Education (Behavioural Sciences), former owner of dog training franchise, committed attendee of APDT conferences and other dog-related seminars, following such world authorities as Patricia McConnell, Ian Dunbar, Suzanne Clothier, Turid Rugaas, Sophia Yin, Emily Larlham, Nicole Wilde, Steve White, to name a few.
Founded Barkers in Balance: 2009
Current dogs: Charlie, Miniature Groodle, born 2013. Lakota, Labrador, born 2014.
Favourite dog quote: There is a light that shines in our dogs’ eyes. Our work is to keep that light shining.
Most fulfilling course outcome you’ve seen: Having new students enrol saying not one but several people had told them to enrol their dog in our courses.
Reflections on your leadership of the Barkers in Balance team: I am continually overwhelmed by the commitment of team members, not only working to make classes successful but carrying the Barkers in Balance name proudly and wanting genuinely to provide a service of excellence. I am grateful on a daily basis to the whole team for this.
Background Experience: Annette completed her Barkers in Balance traineeship in 2021 and has been teaching a number of classes for us each week since then.
Annette’s passion for this work started at a young age on the farm, helping with lots of different animals. She has sound horsemanship under her belt and we always find that “horsey” people make good dog handlers. Annette’s “real” jobs have been in customer service & hospitality. We love the way she says she has two jobs; one she has to go to and one she loves!
In 2023 Annette began studying courses with Steve and Vicki Austin and is gearing up to enrol in the Delta Certificate IV in Animal Behaviour and Training.
First contacted Barkers in Balance: 2020, after a less than satisfying experience in a puppy school run in a pet shop. I enrolled my dog in the Barkers in Balance Good Manners course for adolescent dogs and breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that this was the style of learning I’d been looking for.
Current dog: Frankie the Cavoodle, DOB May, 2020.
Favourite dog quote: “What I like most about people is their dog.”
Why did you want to be part of the Barkers in Balance team? My belief in positive based training love for dogs.
The classes made such a huge impact to Frankie and me. I want to help people like I was helped to build relationships with their dogs. I also want all of the dogs to live their best lives possible.
Most fulfilling outcome you have seen achieved in a Barkers in Balance course?
So many I could list 1000!
Helping input structure and boundaries into a household, with simple little changes being life-changing for the entire family’s life.
Also seeing a timid puppy become a confident puppy in the short space of our 4-week puppy school.
Also having puppies and their humans continue with their training, getting to meet them as puppies but watch them mature in Good Manners lessons as well. Being part of that bond is so incredible and special for me.
Reflections on your participation in the Barkers in Balance team: I get to be a part of an amazing team of like-minded people who will always indulge in hours of talking about dogs.
Current Role with Barkers in Balance:
- Admin Extraordinaire; Susan is the friendly voice on the end of the “Dog Phone”
- Puppy School Trainer
Background Experience: All informal experience coming from owning dogs and always having an interest in animal training. I’ve read a lot of books and watched lots of dog training videos. I’ve worked as a dog groomer and I’ve also previously worked in veterinary clinics as a receptionist so a lot of my knowledge about health and behaviour came from there.
For my administration role I’ve completed a Cert IV in business administration and worked for over 30 years in office administration.
First contacted Barkers in Balance: in 2017, after many people had recommended I take my puppy to a Barkers in Balance puppy school.
Current dogs: Panda 2016 and Winston 2019; both Havanese
Favourite dog quote: “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
Why did you want to be part of the Barkers in Balance team? I’ve always had an interest in dogs and dog training and believe the positive training methods that Barkers use enhance human/dog relationships. I believe that fostering that relationship and intensifying the bond between humans and their dogs will ultimately lead to less dogs ending up in the pound.
Most fulfilling course outcome you’ve seen: My heart sings every time I see a puppy achieve a goal.
Reflections on your participation in the Barkers in Balance team: Seeing the bond between human and dog grow and intensify makes me so proud to be part of this team. We’re all here to assist humans develop a fulfilling, long lasting and positive relationship with their dogs.
I’m so grateful to be part of this team. Julie has been so encouraging and her knowledge and skills blow me away. Hopefully one day I too will have the same depth of understanding of a dog’s behaviour.
Background Experience: Qualifications in Adult Education, along with a Cert IV in Companion Animal Services (TAFE NSW), Pet First Aid (Pets Australia), Tellington Touch Massage for Dogs and Cats, participation in “Chaos to Calm” workshops, volunteer obedience instructor at Newcastle All Breeds Training Club and volunteer with the Delta Pets as Therapy program. Also a member of APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers).
In 2020 Suzanne began studying with Steve and Vicki Austin, enrolling in their Dog Training Certificate through Austin’s Dog Training Education. This will be another fabulous bow to her already impressive set of qualifications!
First contacted Barkers in Balance: 2013. My youngest dog Roxy, a rescue, was anxious and displaying some unwanted behaviours. I wanted to address the unwanted behaviours, but more importantly help her with her anxiety so she could enjoy life! Roxy and I then progressed to Level 1 and Level 2 Adolescent Training.
Current dogs: Zac, a Poodle x Maltese (Moodle), born 2007. Roxy, a Poodle x Silky Terrier (Silkypoo) born 2011.
Favourite dog quote: “In a perfect world every home would have a dog and every dog would have a home.”
Most fulfilling course outcome you’ve seen: Quite often on the first day the dog needs to be out of sight of other dogs. The owners are often distraught (and sometimes embarrassed) and worry that this situation will never get better. However, over the course of a few weeks, with the skills we teach them and owners practising these skills at home, their dog is able to work closer to other dogs. The owners and the dogs are happier – their relationship has been strengthened!
Reflections on your participation in the Barkers in Balance team: I enjoy working with like-minded people who love dogs as much as I do. In particular I enjoy sharing and building knowledge and experience in a supportive environment, meeting lots of people and their dogs and seeing them build great relationships with their dogs (and I get to pat puppies!).
Background Experience: A vet nurse of many years experience and a dog enthusiast.
First contacted Barkers in Balance: in 2016 to work on my bond with my rescue dog Ashie and build trust in each other. She was my first ever dog and I needed to learn how to speak dog.
Current dogs: Ashie – Silky Terrier 2008; Darby – Silky Terrier x 2018.
Favourite dog quote: “A naughty dog is a bored dog” – it’s the mantra I tell all my students.
It is also my puppy fix for the week.
Most fulfilling course outcome you’ve seen: When owners have that “Ah-ha!” moment and realise that with clear direction, any dog is trainable.
Reflections on your participation in the Barkers in Balance team: I love having a group of people who I can purely speak dog with. We all have a shared goal and common interests. As a group we can share ideas and tricks with each other and can learn from one another.
Charlie the Groodle
Background Experience: Enrolled in puppy school with Barkers in Balance in 2013 with my first owners. When they decided I was not the right fit for their family, I became part of the Barkers in Balance team, soon to become one of the faces of the business. I bring with me years of experience as the demo dog in Good Manners classes, Growly classes and private consultations with just one dog who may be nervous or reactive.
First contacted Barkers in Balance: 2013
dogs humans: Julie and Katrina, a couple of kind old birds who took me in back in 2013 when I looked like being homeless.
Favourite dog quote: “Do you ever look at your dog and think, How did I get so lucky?”
Most fulfilling course outcome you’ve seen: Seeing the looks of joy on the faces of the kids at the school where I volunteer each week. From the minute I walk in they’re calling out, “It’s Charlie! Hi, Charlie!” When they play and train with me I try my very hardest to make them feel proud and happy with the activities they are doing with me. I also love seeing reactive dogs able to trust and lie down close to me and relax. I can be the start of them changing the way they look at the world of dogs. That’s a good feeling!
Reflections on your participation in the Barkers in Balance team: I love being part of the team, letting everyone in the team pat me, throw the ball for me and give me heaps of love and adoration.
Lakota, the Chocolate Labrador
Background Experience: I began my life with Barkers in Balance when I was just a pup, 10 weeks of age. I came from a wonderful breeder called Brett who specialises in Chocolate Labradors. He has a passion for genetics and raised me in a beautiful rural setting in the Hunter Valley. In my puppyhood I attended many puppy classes with Barkers in Balance. I often help out in individual lessons with dogs who are uncertain on the lead around other dogs. I help the humans realise that even well-trained dogs like me can sometimes be uncertain on the lead but I’m very good at showing them my successful coping mechanisms. This helps the humans as well as their dogs to relax and feel optimistic.
First contacted Barkers in Balance: 2014
dogs humans: Julie and Katrina who’d always had a dream of owning a Chocolate Lab as beautiful as me!
Favourite dog quote: “Hounds follow those who feed them.” ― Otto von Bismarck
Most fulfilling course outcome you’ve seen: Seeing humans who’ve been anxious about taking their reactive dogs out on the lead begin to see hope. With the right sized little steps, their dogs can cope initially with seeing me and not panicking. As the dog becomes more confident, in many cases we are able to have that dog walk calmly past me, alongside me and be called back to their human after they have focused on me.
Reflections on your participation in the Barkers in Balance team: I love being part of the team, having a job to do and doing it pretty well. I’m also an ordinary dog and many humans in our classes take great comfort from the fact that sometimes I too may need a little reining in. That’s how it goes with dogs.
Please visit our testimonial page to read how dog owners have benefited from attending Barkers in Balance courses.