Pictured is Barbara and her Service Dog Batman.
They took First Place in this 5k race.
About The Thinking K9
"I literally owe my life to dogs." ~Barbara
How it Began
My life has been forever changed by the extraordinary role that dogs have played in it.
Beginning when I was just an infant, our family's Doberman, Princess, proved to be a true hero by saving me from the dangers of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In the middle of the night, she persistently led my mother to my crib, where she found me not breathing and turning purple. Thanks to Princess's unwavering determination, my mother was able to revive me.
Princess was the first of many dogs who have profoundly impacted my life, and I am extraordinarily grateful for them. For me, working with TTK9 is a passion and a calling, an opportunity to give back to the incredible animals who have given me so much.
Go beyond "obedience" with Behavior Modification!
"Obedience" is teaching sits & downs, which your dog probably already knows.
"Behavior Modification" utilizes the latest techniques rooted in psychology, neurobiology, and ethology to teach you how to get behaviors regardless of the environment or distractions!
Helping Dogs and their Humans
Click here to learn more about what the qualifications below mean.
- Michael Ellis School for Dog Trainers in Santa Rosa, California
- *Accredited* Certification through CCPDT.
- Stunt Dog Judge
- Certificate in Aggression Cases- Applied Behavior Modification, Safety, & Defensive Handling.
- Approved Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
- Professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers
- Certified Trick Dog Instructor
- Licensed Canine Conditioning Coach (CCC)
- Certificate in Advanced Socialization
- Certificate in Pet CPR and First Aid
- Certificate in Foundation Nosework
Barbara has also studied directly under great trainers and innovators in the field:
- Dr. Ian Dunbar- World renowned veterinary behaviorist and author.
- Patricia McConnell PH. D- Zoologist, certified applied animal behaviorist, professor in the zoology department of UW Madison, & author.
- Dave Kroyer- World champion dog sport competitor, Nosework judge, Mondio Ring judge, and active in Search and Rescue, Police K9, & many others.
Rock County dog adopted after being badly burned.
"Lueck and her family took Sunny in when she was healing. Surgery after surgery, they helped her get to where she is at today. Thanks to The Thinking K9, she is set up for free training for life, too.
"A lot of confidence building because these scars, they go much much deeper than just the skin and what we can see on the outside," said Barbara Smith with The Thinking K9.
Sunny will always require special care."
'It makes no sense': Janesville community angry after Humane Society break-in.
"It's something I think we'll never understand,” said Janesville resident Barbara Smith, who also owns The Thinking K9, a dog-training business.
Smith stopped by to drop off cash donations. She collects them regularly at her business, but she wanted to bring something positive after the burglary.
“I’m sure we won't be the last ones in here or the first ones bringing things in to uplift them, so we can be in a better place than we were before this,” she said."
Update on Sunny!
"[Barb] has helped to heal her soul and give her back the confidence that was destroyed by her abuse," says Sunny's foster mom, Jennefer, "Sunny is doing amazing and all 3 of us really enjoyed being in this class with her. To have a dog achieve this so soon after her tragic burning is amazing."
Pets on Prozac: Drugs for humans help furry friends
"Humans need to set an example for behaviors they want to see in their pets, Smith said."
"Many of Smith’s clients need to make changes at home to help their pets’ anxieties, she said."
"Smith treats anxiety with positive reinforcement, she said. Punishing bad behavior can make the pet more anxious."
The boxer that changed everything.
While many people, including trainers, often gravitate towards specific breed(s) they like to keep, Barbara has never had the same breed twice. There are too many options, all of which are uniquely appealing! It's like going to a candy store and only being able to choose one kind! All dogs have something to teach if you listen.
Even though Barbara has been training since the 1980s, Batman was exceedingly inspiring and took Barbara on a life-changing journey. She didn't think it was possible, yet her love of dog training grew as her and Batman grew as a team. She sought more knowledge at every opportunity, which ultimately lead her to enrolling in a dog training school. There are many options, but her first pick was a school all the way out in California. Having never done anything half way, she enrolled in the obedience courses. However, she couldn't pull herself away after completing the courses, and ended up staying for many more! The Michael Ellis School for Dog Trainers was one of the most life-changing experiences, and it set Barbara on a whole new journey. In fact, she went back every year for four years (until covid stopped the world) to take additional courses as the school grew and offered even more.
Along the way, her bond with Batman grew exponentially; He became her heart dog. Together they entered many trials across multiple sports ranging from obedience to Barn Hunt. Together they earned numerous PERFECT scores, with 70% being first-place wins! Batman even showed potential to become Barbara's service dog and eventually did, including becoming the second dog to save her life.
Inspired by Batman, The Thinking K9 was born and fittingly named after their journey together. The biggest thing she's learned is the depth that we can communicate with dogs, spanning far beyond obedience commands. Dogs can become incredible problem solvers and make intelligent decisions without requiring instruction (ie. obedience commands). Essentially, dogs can become "Thinking K9s."
Thanks to Batman's inspiration and loyalty, she has been able to touch many lives, including saving several along the way. Batman is a hero to all and a savior of one (Barbara).
Rebecca has a passion for working with animals and sharing her knowledge with other people. Since 2012 Rebecca has been an active board member of a Madison based non-profit dedicated to education and conservation of reptiles and amphibians. She has given presentations to groups both large and small and especially enjoys events geared towards educating children. Through training her own dog, Phoenix, at The Thinking K9 she realized she had a passion for dog training. Having taken every class offered, and many more than once, she is always eager to learn more about the subject. Rebecca was excited to start shadowing Barbara in 2019 by assisting in puppy classes and anywhere she could be needed. In addition to shadowing she also tries to expand her skill set by attending seminars, reading books and watching training DVDs. Rebecca and Phoenix recently earned their Trick Dog Grand Champion Title and are actively working on obtaining nosework titles.
Kaitie’s background is rooted in business strategy and a love for all animals. By day Kaitie is the Development Director at the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin where her focus is on helping to secure the funding needed to care for the over 5,000 animals the organization sees each year. She has learned quite a bit about dog training from bringing her own dog, Togo, to The Thinking K9 and jumping at any chance she gets to learn. She and Togo have taken every class offered at TTK9 together over the last two years. Not only has Kaitie taken every class offered at TTK9, but she has taught every class too! She began shadowing Barbara in January of 2019 and is now leading both the Sunday and Monday Core Manners classes and assisting in or leading other classes whenever needed.