By Wes Overvold Explore Big Sky Staff Writer

BOZEMAN – Enriching the lives of both dogs and their owners has been Kelly Engel’s passion since she was young. As the owner of Bozeman’s newest dog training and boarding facility, Know Thy Dog, she looks to share that passion with southwest Montana.

Located just a short drive from downtown Bozeman on Barnett Lane, Know Thy Dog can accommodate a large number of canines while providing a comprehensive amount of services, Engel said of the business she opened last November. The facility includes both indoor and outdoor play areas, boarding kennels, a full kitchen and a live-in suite, in which Engel resides.

“[The center is] like a home, but it’s been dog-proofed to accommodate up to 45 dogs,” Engel said, adding that having a constant presence allows her to pay close attention to the visiting canines during their stay.

With an extensive background as both a dog trainer and animal control officer, Engel recognized that the Bozeman and Big Sky areas were in dire need of a progressive facility that offered training, boarding, and daycare, she said. And by bringing on head trainer Mandy Britton, who is also certified with the Council for the Certification of Professional Dog Trainers, Know Thy Dog provides a valuable resource for the region’s dog-loving residents.

Through expertise and training, Engel and Britton are qualified to accept dogs from a variety of backgrounds, including those that show aggression toward humans. “It’s amazing … to offer people help who were going to get rid of their dogs or who were sacrificing so much in their life,” said Engel, who has been training and handling dogs since age 7. “Every dog that comes in here should leave in a better position than when they started.”

In addition to boarding and training services, Engel and Britton create an environment that allows dogs to feel as comfortable and as “at home” as they can. Whether the animals spend an evening in the movie room or on an afternoon adventure hike, the dogs are not far removed from their environments back home.

“If you want your dog to have the same level of companionship as they would get at home, they can sleep in [a trainer’s] bed,” Britton said. “It’s literally like they come into a new home, and they get that [same] level of attention.”

Despite its limited tenure, Know Thy Dog is receiving positive client feedback, Engel says. “We give out my personal cell phone number and people text me all the time wanting pictures and updates of their dog,” she said, pointing to a sense of relief she gets from clients. “From their messages back, they’re just like ‘Thank God you exist!’ We hear that a lot.”

Know Thy Dog offers a shuttle service for dog owners in Big Sky and the Yellowstone Club, and the operators fully expect to keep growing the business.

When asked what gives her energy on a daily basis, Engel says she feeds off her clients’ happiness. “It’s helping people and helping dogs to be able to live their best life together.”

Visit knowthydogtraining.com for more information on training, boarding and doggy day care.