About Us


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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.


Julie Tolliday

Dog Training Newcastle

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.

Best part about leading the Barkers in Balance team? Enabling others with a passion to be able to work with dogs and their owners to build relationships of understanding, reliability and trust. Seeing the team members grow in confidence and watching them take delight in the changes they help to make.

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.

Tasha Cook









Current Role with Barkers in Balance:

  • Technical All-Rounder

Background Experience: I have worked as a Virtual Assistant and within other small Port Stephens businesses in administration, accounting, consulting and marketing.

First contacted Barkers in Balance: Growing up my family dogs did their Puppy School through Barkers in Balance and we have grown good friends through local business connections over the years.

Current dogs: I am in the search for my own puppy in the next year or so – however I frequently look after my famiy dog “Queenie” who is a Toy Poodle.

Favourite dog quote: “Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.”

Why did you want to be part of the Barkers in Balance team? I fell into the role during some COVID down time and appreciate the opportunity Julie gave me. It’s great talking to people who are genuinely wanting to improve their dog’s lives!

Most fulfilling course outcome you’ve seen: The end of their course when they have their graduation hat on!

Reflections on your participation in the Barkers in Balance team: I love hearing and seeing the photos from the courses of happy dogs who are learning to be the best! The team, though small is hard working and have a great attitude and really do want the best for their clients and its great to be a part of.

Charlie the Groodle

trained dog newcastle

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

Current 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?

Why did you want to be part of the Barkers in Balance team? I didn’t have much choice, really but I couldn’t be happier. My life now is full of exciting and varied adventures with lots of mental stimulation to keep my busy little “oodle” mind occupied.

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

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

Current 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

Why did you want to be part of the Barkers in Balance team? Well, my breeder Brett needed to approve first of the home I was going to. Once we got that formality out of the way, I jumped straight into puppy classes, learning and demonstrating to other puppies. The treats were amazing so the deal was sealed from there.

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.