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: 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), PIAA (Pet Industry Association of Australia) and Pets Australia.
First contacted Barkers in Balance: 2013
Current dogs: Zac, a Poodle x Maltese (Moodle), born 2007. Roxy, a Poodle x Silky Terrier (Silkypoo) born 2011. Both dogs are qualified Delta therapy dogs.
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 leadership of the Barkers in Balance team: I enjoy working with like-minded people who love dogs as much as I do. In particular I enjoy haring 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 !).
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 leadership of 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 adoring.
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 leadership of 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.