Ugh, Ice Breakers

Welcome to the Bark 4 Joy Blog!

My name is Madie, owner of Bark 4 Joy Dog Training.

I'm wanting to use this blog to address hot topic training discussions, discuss some topics that trainers might experience, and more! I'll take the topics as they come.

For today, I just wanted to provide some more background on my dogs! So basically, the dreaded ice breaker exercise!

Trish (pictured above) is my heart dog. Have you ever heard of that term? Basically, I will never be attached to another dog like I am her. I have a love-hate relationship with her, but it is mostly because she is too smart.

Let's get the nitty gritty over with- she is a Border Collie, Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Kelpie, Terrier, super mutt mix. So basically, every smart thing a dog could be, she is. She is about 4 years old and came from a shelter outside of Bozeman, MT.

Trish came into my life in September of 2017. She was the dog I received while in my undergraduate program. The whole purpose of Trish was for me to have an introduction to training and learn what it is like to give up a dog after training, like puppy raisers do.

For 9 months, Trish and I worked our way through the basics (sit, down, stay, don't sprint through doors, don't jump) into more advanced behaviors (opening a handicapped door, pushing a wheelchair, turning on light switches). Then, around Thanksgiving of 2017, Trish and I found a new love- scent detection. She absolutely loved it, which made me absolutely love it. We started with clove essential oil and worked our way to pseudo marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. I'll have to do another blog post about scent detection, because it is my passion (hence why I pursued my master's in canine olfaction).

In March 2018, Trish and I moved to learning tracking, which we also loved. Once the snow melted and spring came, I knew it was getting close to my time to part with Trish. I met with a few prospective families, but I wasn't getting a lot of interest... for one reason- her dog aggression.

For the first 2 weeks I had Trish, she was fine around other dogs. Then a switch flipped and she became extremely aggressive (and yes, it is true aggression. A topic for another blog...). This wasn't too surprising once I realized that the behavior was suppressed while in a shelter setting. It was a behavior I wasn't at the time capable of reversing. I was a college student with numerous other classes which took priority.

Anyways, May of 2018 came and my boyfriend decided that Trish needed to stay in our lives. The night of canine graduation, I got to hand over the leash to my boyfriend and his family. It was such a sweet moment. And thankfully, she is still in our lives, creating amazing memories and lots of messes!

Now, 4 years later, Trish has accomplished so much! She has moved from Montana to Idaho, then Idaho to Montana, then Montana to Texas, then Texas to Montana. She has been a demo dog in dozens of my videos for Bark 4 Joy. She is also my guinea pig. Whenever I want to teach a new skill, I practice on her first. Honestly, she will do anything I ask. I just have to figure out the proper way to communicate with her. Trish often ends up being too smart and too excited, so she jumps the gun.

Trish and I have also recently began pursing her trick dog titles. To date, she has earned her novice, intermediate, and advanced titles with Do More With Your Dog. She is one skill away from her expert level title.

If you can't tell, I absolutely adore her.

My second dog is Sherman. He is a crazy mix of breeds, but he is predominately Great Pyrenees. He came from a rescue in Fort Worth, TX called SPIN. I got him when he was about 13 weeks old, and I made it my mission to train a dog that could be the Bark 4 Joy Ambassador. Sherman is now a year and a half old.

He fits that role wonderfully. If you complete training with Bark 4 Joy, and need training with another dog, Sherman will most likely be there. He is extremely dog neutral and extremely treat motivated! If you don't have a treat (and even sometimes when you do), he does things on his own terms.

Sherman is a goofy, loving, 90 pound dog who thinks he is 10 pounds. He often tries to climb into your lap. He doesn't bark like a typical Pyrenees might but will alert you to danger (or if someone hits your parked car at 2 in the morning)!

My long term goal with Sherman is to make him a registered therapy dog. He currently has obtained his AKC Canine Good Citizen, which I am beyond proud of. We took the test on a whim, and he did fantastic (especially because you can't use treats).

So, my life is happily full with these two fluff balls. They make every day fun and interesting and are always challenging me to become a better dog trainer.

They are my inspiration.

Your joyful dog trainer,


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