How to Train a Dog: Tips from NYC’s Top Dog Trainers, part 1/6

By Phoebe Ryles, Epoch Times
March 21, 2013 11:22 am Last Updated: June 28, 2015 5:39 pm

How to Train a Dog: Tricks of the trade from New York City’s top rated dog trainers.

New Yorkers love their dogs, but life in any major metropolis offers up some serious challenges to dog owners.  In this series The Epoch Times interviewed six of New York City’s top rated dog trainers to find out how to train a dog for happy city living.  

Each of these certified trainers has a unique approach. Some are near celebrities in their field, and others just broke out on their own, but all have great advice and long line of satisfied customers behind them. Check out the whole How to Train a Dog series here. 

Annie Grossman: Co-owner of School For The Dogs with Kate Senisi

“You don’t need to have your whole life together to have a great dog. Its just not that complicated.”  

That’s Annie Grossman, dog trainer and owner of School For The Dogs in New York City. 

What you do need to do, according to Grossman, is have a clear line of communication with your dog. Let him know when he is doing what you want, then give a prompt reward.  

At School For The Dogs this is done with “clicker training.”  

“It’s the same way they train dolphins. We don’t use any punishment. That doesn’t mean that we spoil dogs, it means we use good timing and smart rewards to get good behavior out of our pets,” Grossman explains.

Clicker training involves using a clicker to make an audible sound and training your dog to associate that with a reward, like a biscuit.  

“In the beginning its just click, treat, click, treat, to build up that association,” Grossman explains.  

Later on you use the clicker to pinpoint the exact moment the desired behavior is achieved. For example, you tell the dog to sit, when he sits you click, then you go get him a treat.

Grossman is certified through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). As a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, Grossman believes in positive reinforcement training.

“If there is a skateboard going by and the dog is scared and barking or squealing, you’re still going to give him a treat. You’re creating a positive association between something scary and something good,” Grossman said.

It’s the same reason why you got a sticker when you left the dentist as a child.

Grossman encourages owners to trust what they know when training their dog. “Behavior is a science and it’s something we all innately know a lot about because we are all behaving all the time,” she said.

School for the Dogs offers private training for dogs and their owners at home or in their studio near Union Square in Manhattan. They also offer group classes, including a $25 Essentials class for humans only. “We aim to be pretty affordable, we don’t feel like dog training should be a luxury activity,” Grossman said.

Grossman also gives out plenty of free advice on her blog and on the School for the Dogs website. In a recent post, Grossman gives 7 tips for keeping dogs safe on city streets, including using a fixed-length leash and keeping your pockets full of treats to give to strangers.  

Huh? Yep, that’s right, give dog treats to people, so that they can give them to your dog.  

According to Grossman, you’re not just training dogs to behave properly, you’re training people how to behave properly toward dogs.