What sets Joyful Dog apart from other dog training facilities is owner Marnie Montgomery’s belief that learning should be fun for both the dog and the human.

When Marnie asked me to assist at Joyful Dog in 2013, I was immediately attracted to the possibility of helping her make a difference in people’s lives and the lives of their dogs. I quickly saw that Marnie did not want to open just another “obedience” school, where students and dogs are given rote behaviors to practice. She wanted to create an environment where humans and dogs are treated with respect while applying the most recent advances in canine learning science.

Marnie also brought to the endeavor Tellington TTouch methods that develop a deeper level of trust and communication between humans and dogs, an exciting addition that sets the tone for a rewarding relationship between students and their pups.

Marnie’s background is unique among trainers in the area: not only has she spent years learning from some of the most well-respected dog behaviorists and trainers in the country, but she can also draw on her broad experience in adult education to make each person who walks into her class know that they will be successful. Her work in Tellington Touch is truly a labor of love, employing the techniques in all aspects of her teaching. Marnie is continually learning new training methods by attending seminars and workshops, as well as being active in number of professional associations.

One of the first things Joyful Dog students notice is how small Marnie keeps all of the classes — everyone gets loads of individual attention, progressing with their dogs at a rate that respects each team’s strengths but also gives owners the chance to be amazed at just how much their dog really can accomplish.

Marnie fosters an atmosphere in her classes where students are encouraged to question, suggest, and get excited about what they are learning — this goes double for me as an assistant. She’s helped me gain a level of confidence in my skills to where I can not only step up my game with clients, but also use my skills out in the community, including helping to develop and implement enrichment programs for dogs at my local shelter and working to give dogs a second chance at a happy life with Foster Dog Alliance.

Adding Kim Miller to Joyful Dog, with her decades of experience handling all varieties of dogs and other animals, broadened our group’s abilities considerably. Now I have both Kim and Marnie to use as sounding boards for when I’ve found myself stymied about a tricky behavior situation, or wondering how to develop more creative ways to get a student to see the next step in their dog’s training.

While I am still early in my career as a dog trainer, it is not exaggeration to say that I am miles ahead of where I would be had I not accepted Marnie’s generous offer last fall to come work with her at Joyful Dog.