Owner and Trainer Certified Behavior Consultant Fun facts: great parallel parker and enjoys adult coloring books
Decoy Dog Extraordinaire Play Therapy Dog (for little dogs) Fun facts: knows lots of cute tricks and always gets her way
Decoy Dog Apprentice Therapy Dog (for people) Fun facts: loves hugs and meeting new people
Based in Astoria, NY, I specialize in training for the pet dog. I teach a motivation-based method of dog training rooted in behavioral psychology that focuses on giving the learner choice. The dog training I do is geared towards coaching you how to be your dog's trainer, giving you the skills you need to succeed, and therefore is very flexible. I will make it work for you and your family - no two situations are the same. I work with all breeds, ages, temperaments, and sizes of dogs, as well as many types of behavior problems ranging from potty training, inappropriate barking, and leash walking, to fear-based behaviors that can lead to aggression and biting.
I will never ask you to do something painful or overtly stressful to your dog, and you are always welcome (and encouraged!) to ask questions. Dog training with me is focused on learning to read your dog's body language, setting them up to succeed, and rewarding good choices.
Gone but never forgotten, the original trio from left to right: Tigress, Emma, and Charlie.
I was originally pursuing a graduate degree in English Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center here in NYC. Charlie, my Miniature Poodle, was 6 years old at the time, and plagued with various behavioral issues, his most severe was clinical separation anxiety. I go over the details in the blog section, as well as how I dealt with it, but at his worst he collapsed his own trachea, had the police called, and even received hand written complaints from neighbors unhappy with his non-stop barking. He also destroyed the apartment, and urinated and defecated when left alone.
I decided to leave the world of literary academia to pursue dog training in 2009. Up until then I had informally trained Charlie to do a myriad of tricks and cute behaviors, and had worked at a kennel and with shelter dogs for years, but had no formal behavior training. I shadowed other trainers, and learned all I could in the following years. I dedicated myself to working with Charlie and his separation anxiety, and am happy to say that he began his recovery in 2010.
In 2011 I graduated with distinction from the Karen Pryor Academy and am very proudly a Certified Training Partner. I am currently enrolled in the Animal Behavior and Conservation Master's Program at Hunter College. I volunteer my services to several rescue groups, as well as low income families in NYC through the Pet Help Partners program through The Humane Society of the United States. In 2016 I began volunteer training with the Rikers Rovers program on Rikers Island, and ended up working there for over a year. In 2018 I began working with NYC Animal Care and Control to run community dog training classes that are free to the public in the Bronx, through their Community Pets Program. I also offer support to families looking for training options to avoid giving up their dog, and to families adopting dogs with special behavior needs from the shelter to ensure they handle the transition to family life as well as possible. I am constantly reading new dog training and behavior books, watching webinars, taking part in online behavior forums, and attending seminars. I have attended several Clicker Expos - if you've never been to a Clicker Expo, I highly recommend it! I recently also took on a mentee - he's brilliant with the dogs and learning all about the business. You may see him from time to time, tagging along during a session, handling one of my dogs during a reactive dog session, or acting as a decoy himself for dogs who need to make more human friends.
In 2015 I acquired Prynne, a Toy Australian Shepherd. She was privately rehomed because her previous owners couldn't keep up anymore. She was a tough puppy and wasn't socialized before she came to me, but has blossomed into a spectacular little dog and is working as my decoy dog. Late 2015 she had a terrible accident and ended up at the Animal Medical Center ICU for 2 weeks, but pulled through and is doing as well as ever, though with an esophageal stricture. If your dog has reactivity issues with other dogs - there's a good chance you'll get to meet her! She's also a phenomenal play therapy dog for select cases.
October 2017 someone shared a Facebook post of a handsome dog at a local shelter who was described as super social and very friendly. I went to go meet him, fell in love, brought Prynne up to meet him the next day, and ended up bringing him home with us. Eyre turned out to be the Best Dog Ever. He is an incredibly friendly, easy going, affable boy who has never met a stranger. He even went on some therapy visits with me to Rikers Island with the incarcerated youth and was a big hit, and is currently in the process of getting certified to bring his magic to more people in need. Eyre adores people of all ages, and is learning how to be a decoy dog as well. I sometimes wish I could clone him and send him out to families everywhere - everyone deserves a dog like Eyre! I hope you get to meet him too!
Prynne, while acting as a decoy dog on a hot summer's day, wearing her cooling vest.
Eyre couldn't decide which one to wear to his first formal therapy session! Which one do you like?