Dog Training & Wellness Services

DogRelations™ NYC dog training is really about positive reinforcement training in an enjoyable and life enriching way. This means giving your dog a clear understanding of behaviors you want to encourage while having fun and developing a close relationship. Dogs thrive on honest, direct and consistent communication, just like friends who completely trust and rely on one another.

Friday 26 February 2021

Choice + Control for Our Dogs

How do you feel when you are either ignored or told what to do? When you do not have control?

Elisabeth crossing the street with her dog

Speaking for myself: I don’t like it at all.

Realizing that I am going to have to find a way to occupy myself after seeking a conversation and finding the other party preoccupied is sort of ok, but then being reprimanded for not listening when all of a sudden they want to engage: that is often annoying!

I also don’t like being bossed around all the time.

Put this here, why don’t you do such and such now? Not here, over there! Being on someone else’s agenda most of the time is disheartening and undermines one’s confidence.

I don’t like it because I like to have control over my own life.

The need for choice and control over one’s actions is urgent and important for all species

Puppy enjoying the choice and control of running to owner

Having choice and control is a primal need.

This has been quite evident during the pandemic. To have one’s choices limited and not having any real control over the environment has lead our society to violent outbursts and extraordinary amounts of paranoia, hysteria and frustration.

The need for choice and control over one’s actions is urgent and important for all species but here I will just focus on our dogs. It is really valuable to have an even-keeled animal companion.

So, teaching our dogs to understand what to do in different situations is so much more satisfying to them because they have the choice to take a risk or not. They have the choice to earn a reward or to safely do their own thing if it is scary or too challenging.

Happy dog getting pets
Training a dog is really nothing else but to encourage them to engage in behaviors they know will be safe. That to try something new is safe because no ill will come to them if they do.

That is my goal when I “train” a puppy. I teach the puppy to integrate into their humans’ lives harmoniously. Not by motivating them to “do or else” but by repeating what has been rewarded, greatly appreciated and has made them feel great about themselves.

A dog who is able to think things through and is given time and motivation to “guess right” is much happier than one who is simply told what to do and not able to derive any real satisfaction from the behavior.

Are you a guardian looking to encourage your dog through choice and control? Here at Dog Relations, we are happy to provide you with the necessary support so you and your dog can continue to learn and bond together! Click here to visit our website and learn more about our virtual and in-person dog training and wellness sessions!


Tuesday 29 December 2020

The Joys of ‘Fun’ Teaching

You know how you feel when you are under pressure and kind of feel tested? Trying to learn from teaching when on the spot isn’t easy.

Most of the time you actually do not perform at the same level as when you are laughing and relaxed. That is true for our learning dogs as well, especially those who have a history of being nagged during teaching or where the handler might get frustrated at times because they want to get a point across quickly. Learning the “BASIC COMMANDS” as if they were religious dogma.

we humans seem to project the urgency of our needs into the way we interact, teach and explain.

I have always loved teaching the dogs “tricks” right from the beginning. It’s fun, right? But why is that? It’s because there is no pressure involved. If the puppy doesn’t learn to give paw, it’s not a life and death thing. But oddly the puppy often learns those skills with greater ease than the “basic” skills.

Happy dog licking its lips after teaching session

I was made particularly aware of that when a dear client of mine had terrific success teaching her puppy a rather advanced and captured “trick”. She said that she felt the difference in her pup’s response and that he enjoyed the “fancy work” so much more than the “necessary manners stuff”. It is a wonderful example of how we humans seem to project the urgency of our needs into the way we interact, teach and explain.

If we want our pups to gladly respond immediately with teaching, why not make everything fun? 

The motivation for good behavior could be as enticing as the invitation to engage in a great opportunity for fun and reward. Our dogs are not soldiers who have to obey, they are not underlings or in the most extreme cases, slaves. They are our cherished friends who want to engage in a mutually beneficial and loving relationship. 

Elisabeth of Dog Relations NYC teaching puppy

Looking to the New Year, perhaps finding this new motivation for “fancy work” or teaching could be an enjoyable exploration for both you and your dog! As always, if you need support with creating these opportunities, reach out to us at Dog Relations NYC at any time.


Tuesday 24 November 2020

Elisabeth Weiss – A wikiHow Expert

We use the internet every day to find much-needed answers to questions about our pets happiness, health and training. WikiHow is a huge resource for addressing these and many other questions, and now it just got a whole lot more exciting for pet owners.

Elisabeth Weiss, owner of Dog Relations NYC, is now a writing contributor for wikiHow Pets! 

Elisabeth Weiss is a wikiHow Pets expert in dog behavior and training.

She has co-authored several blogs in partnership with other dog behaviorists, nutritionists and trainers around the world, answering questions about understanding your dog and how best to address less desirable behaviors. These blogs cover a large variety of topics including basic puppy manners like sleep training and how to teach ‘sit’ to more serious issues around separation anxiety in dogs and fear triggers. These blogs are an invaluable resource to those with a new puppy and seasoned dog guardians, alike.

Keep reading this blog to discover the different topics addressed by Elisabeth and be sure to click the links to read more on wikiHow Pets!

Your Dog and Their Fear Triggers

Are you and your dog struggling with fear triggers? As the guardians, it can be hard to understand exactly what frightens our dogs, but there are ways to help put your puppy at ease!

“It’s heartbreaking to see our dogs shy away from people, objects, and other animals that can enrich their lives. 

To put your dog at ease, you can desensitize them through gradual exposure and by creating new, positive associations with their triggers. Over time, your dog will learn to overcome their fear and live a fuller, happier life…” 

If you are interested in helping your puppy with their fear triggers, click here for a wikiHow article co-authored by Elisabeth on how to desensitize your dog.

Elisabeth Weiss is a wikiHow Pets expert in dog behavior and training.

Loose Leash Walking is Possible

Are you enjoying walks with your dog? Or is the enjoyment overshadowed by concern for their walking training?

The goal is to help both you and your dog enjoy loose leash walks! This will put you at ease and help your dog understand exactly what is desirable leash behavior.

Teaching your dog to walk next to you doesn’t need to be overwhelming or frustrating. Read the helpful step-by-step guide in this wikiHow blog!

Dominant Dog Behavior

Do you feel you have a dog with dominant behavior?

While it can seem like a ‘dominant dog’ issue, your dog is just trying to understand what behaviors will be the best ones to choose, most of the time! 

When our dogs don’t understand which behavior is the most desirable, they will make a best guess. Sometimes, that guess is exactly what you don’t want, resulting in a dog that acts out as dominant.

This can be addressed through positive reinforcement, as well as clear boundaries. Want to learn more? Read this helpful wikiHow blog co-authored by Elisabeth to understand the best ways to address dominant behavior in your dog!

Stop Those Destructive Chewing Habits

Destructive chewing can be costly and concerning!

If you have a puppy who is teething or simply loves to chew on the objects around them, make sure to limit access to toys that they are allowed to chew on. Positively reinforce their behavior when they chew on the ‘good’ items.

However, if you find that your dog tends to destructively chew on objects when left alone, this could be a sign of separation anxiety.

Want to learn more about issues with destructive chewing and how to solve them? Read this wikiHow blog co-authored by Elisabeth on wikiHow Pets and reach out to Dog Relations NYC for any help you may need!

Elisabeth Weiss is a wikiHow Pets expert in dog behavior and training.

Helping Your Puppy Fall Asleep (and Stay Asleep)

Sleep is so important for a young puppy! It is essential in helping them grow and develop healthily, as well as keep them happy, relaxed and feeling comfortable. Puppies need consistency and boundaries to settle in for a night of good, productive sleep.

Are you learning about your puppy’s sleep cycle or looking to help them get settled and fall asleep sooner? Read this wikiHow feature discussing how best to get your puppy sleeping consistently through the night! With a helpful step-by-step guide, this blog shows the best ways to help prepare and tire your puppy out for sleep and how to keep them asleep once they are ready for bed.

‘Sit’ is a Great Place to Start

‘Sit’ is one of the most fundamental training topics for new puppies and dogs alike!

The most important thing is to set up a positive learning experience for both you and your puppy. You want the training to be a fun way for you both to connect. Understanding your dog and how they like to learn and interact with you will help you form a loving bond for years to come.

Teaching your dog to sit is a great place to start! Read this wikiHow article on how to encourage your puppy the right way when it comes to ‘sit’.

Need some help with teaching the basics of puppy training? At Dog Relations NYC, we offer many personalized training options, both virtual and in-person in New York City! Check out our website for more information. 

How to Address Excessive Licking

Puppy licks are often a sweet, friendly indication of how much your dog loves you! Licking is normal behavior for puppies to affectionately interact with their dog guardians, to groom or to taste something delicious.

But, it is important to note that obsessive licking can be a sign of anxiety in your dog or puppy. Understanding the motivation of the licking and if it is your dog’s way of expressing discomfort or anxiety is key to knowing how they are feeling.

Want to learn more about this issue and ways to curb excessive licking? Check out this wikiHow Pets article co-authored by Elisabeth!

If you think your dog is dealing with anxiety-manifested licking, this often needs more focused attention and care. Contact us at Dog Relations any time for a virtual or in-person personalized session to better understand your dog’s anxiety triggers and ways to help relieve their stress.

Happy dog and cat behavior and training.

Get Your Dog and Cat Living in Harmony

Relationships between animals can be so special. Whether they meet while you are on a walk with your dog, or you live at home with a dog and a cat, having more than one animal around can give companionship and comfort to you and them.

However, the environment can sometimes be stressful if your dog wants to chase cats! If your dog and cat are not cohabitating well, or if your dog reacts to cats in your neighborhood in an undesirable way, don’t worry! This is solvable and will help all of your animals feel comfortable and safe.

At home or out on a walk, the key is to control the environment in which your dog and cat interact and reward them both for their desirable behavior towards each other. By following the five helpful steps in this wikiHow Pets blog, you’ll be able to have all animals living in happy harmony!

No More Extreme Barking

Is your dog barking often? Does it seem uncontrollable? This issue can feel frustrating and overwhelming, especially when we don’t understand what our dogs are trying to communicate or why.

It could be that you have accidentally reinforced this behavior as acceptable. But don’t despair! Dogs are incredibly smart and want to choose those good behaviors you want to see.

Take a look at this wikiHow article co-authored by Elisabeth that discusses how to stop excessive barking and how to encourage your dog to respond to stimuli in different, less noisy ways!

Help Your Dog’s Fear of Vehicles

Whether it is driving in a vehicle or walking beside one on a busy street, they can trigger a fear response in your dog or puppy.

This can be a difficult thing to deal with if you want to take your dog on a trip to the dog park or even to walk around the block near moving vehicles on the road.

You may feel helpless to your dog’s response, but this doesn’t need to be the case! Explore three steps in this wikiHow article that can aid your dog’s fear of vehicles.

Happy dog behavior and training.

Dog Agility Courses are Safe and Fun

We’ve all been staying at home a lot more than usual, lately. When there is a dog in the home, it’s such a blessing to receive their love and attention, especially during these difficult times. But, if you’ve noticed you have had to limit walks and dog park visits because of the pandemic, there are still exciting ways to keep your dog happy and healthy.

Turn your backyard or even your apartment into a mini agility course for your dog! Keeping your house-bound dog energized and happy can be a fun activity for both of you and can be a very rewarding training experience.

There are many DIY options for creating an agility course out of materials you may already have laying around. Need to get inspired? Take a look at this wikiHow Pets feature Elisabeth contributed to for agility ideas!

Need more information on any of these topics? We’re not just wikihow experts! Contact us for any of your dog training, nutrition or wellness needs. We are happy to provide virtual sessions to clients as well as in-person visits for anyone in New York City.


Tuesday 29 September 2020

Timing Is Everything With Your Dog

Reinforcement at the right time can help you and your dog!

Dog eating treat

Using management can be a valid teaching pathway for both you and your dog. Essentially, you can build a reward history in your dog by associating great outcomes with specific events and circumstances. 

Ideally, we control the dog’s environment in such a way that makes undesirable behavior less likely. As much as we might wish so, we do not have a magic wand to wave that allows the dog to understand how we would like him to behave. 

For example, let’s say all of a sudden your puppy notices that when you have dinner, there are deliciously wonderful smells emanating from the table top and of course he wants to explore and devour the aromatic foods up there. That is perfectly natural. After all, wouldn’t you? 

Dog looking at treats

But luckily someone in your life has taught you a certain amount of impulse control, also known as manners, that allowsyou to gracefully wait until (through some learned social signal) it is OK to take one of those freshly baked brownies or taste that delicious cheese. 

Your dog, however, does not yet have the necessary social skills to cope with the temptations that set off the “bad” behavior.

Until that time, it is a great idea to help your puppy by not tempting them in the first place!

Remember, timing is of the essence. If you wait for the dog to bark, whine, jump up and then decide, “oh we better put him in the crate with a nice stuffed toy!” You are reinforcing a chain of behaviors.

The most important thing in behavioral training is to help the dog not to feel compelled to perform an undesired behavior.

Your dog learns that barking/jumping/whining will get him attention and then something nice to lick! He learns that quicker than you think and so the behavior chain will be reinforced.

With a little attention to forethought, you can “manage” this or any other problem behavior.

Dog treats

If your treat delivery becomes part of a routine and happens before the dog starts to beg/jump/whine, you will teach your dog to run to his “spot” or bed directly because setting the table becomes a predictor or cue that something great and rewarding will appear there. Running to the bed becomes a self rewarding action and barking/whining/jumping doesn’t even enter the picture.


Friday 14 August 2020

Managing Your Puppy Helps You Both

Providing your puppy with clear boundaries leads to great outcomes for you and them!

Sometimes I am highly amused by the way people describe the behavior of their puppy. It sounds to me as if they were describing a movie in which they have no control over the outcome. They adore their puppies and they want them to have fun but they seemingly don’t quite know how to organize things to prevent chaos.

Puppy Training at Dog Relations NYC

This is where management can be very helpful!

Management to me means providing an environment or manipulating the environment in such a way that minimizes the chance for error and provides mostly desired outcomes.

In context with a new puppy, that means less space, lots of supervision and a fair schedule. That is good management that will lead to good outcomes.

Remember: Puppies and Dogs Want to Understand What You Need From Them

Puppy Training at Dog Relations NYC

To put it another way: Good management will not deprive the puppy of having fun and games and a loving relationship with you but, if thoughtfully applied, will contribute to the learning process!

Consequently, the puppy will be well prepared to act “properly” on his own when he can learn that those behaviors are always rewarded and once “taught”, will not need to be “managed”, but will already understand what the situation requires.

In context of a new puppy, management means giving less space, lots of supervision and a fair schedule… Good management leads to good outcomes!”

Puppy Training at Dog Relations NYC

If you are reading this and currently feeling overwhelmed with your puppy and the training they need, reach out to us at Dog Relations NYC! We offer personalized puppy training and have just launched a new In Home Puppy Day Care, to give you time to run your errands and catch your breath while we play with and house train your puppy.

We’re here to support your bond with your new puppy! Reach out to us at any time:

Puppy Training at Dog Relations NYC


Thursday 25 June 2020

At Home Dog Grooming is Possible!

Grooming your dog at home doesn’t need to be difficult

In this unfortunate time of a pandemic when many grooming salons are closed, you might want to do some basic grooming at home. So you think: I’ll just brush him a little bit to get rid of those mats that have been accumulating. You pull out brush and comb and want to get started but come to the realization: “Wow, he really is incredibly wiggly, he won’t let me touch his paw, he runs away!” The groomer never told you how on earth she got the job done! However: Do not despair! If we can teach zoo animals to comply with care voluntarily you can do the same with your dog at home. 

With a bit of patience and good humor you can turn the grooming session into a fun training/learning game for both you and your dog.

Groomed Dog from Dog Relations


  • Do not be in a rush! Do not feel you have to get everything done now! We humans can be very task oriented. Change your mindset to: Let’s see if I can actually teach my puppy not to run away when he sees the brush. As with everything in teaching: Success is inspiring, so if you make your goal attainable, the likelihood of being successful is much higher.  Baby steps are far better than wrangling with your dog and  “just letting you do it”. That would mean setting yourself up for more struggles in the future. All reinforced behaviors increase in intensity. So I can guarantee you that the dog’s fear and resistance will escalate. In other words: by stressing the dog out the opposite of what you really want to achieve will happen.
  • Second important point would be how to set yourself up for success. As with all things sometimes it takes a step back to get a step forward.
  • Decide on a spot where you are going to teach and eventually do your grooming. Can your dog relax on a mat or a bed? If yes: great! If not, I would greatly encourage you to start there. 
  • There are several recommended positions your dog can take: 
    • Lying on mat or table/grooming table if you have one
    • Any geographically defined surface (a dog bed, a towel, a yoga mat) will greatly help teach your dog that good things happen if I stay in that area.
    • Head Rest on your lap or seat of chair 
Dog Groomed By Dog Relations


One of the most wonderful aspects of the trust you can build with positive reinforcement is the ability to give your dog choice and control over what he feels comfortable offering at the time of the interaction. Rather than restraining the dog and “getting it over with” and reprimanding the struggling dog, we can teach that nothing bad will happen when he makes the choice to trust the guardian or handler.  We achieve this by rewarding small increments of showing trust and building on the fact that the rewarded choices will increase in strength in the future.

To give you a specific example: for nail filing : If you have a scratch board, you will first reward the dog for not avoiding the scratchboard when he looks at it..then as he becomes more comfortable with it, you will reward him touching it as it is lying on the floor. You see, it is a game and he will understand that it is a game!

Save yourself and your dog a lot of stress and trips to the vet or groomer

A touch can easily become a scratch as you change the angle of the board. And within a short period of time you have the dog filing his own nails. Not only do you save yourself and your dog a lot of stress and trips to the vet or groomer, you add to your repertoire of fun interactions with your dog. It is a win/win for everyone.

You will be pleased that you have solved one of the more challenging issues dog guardians encounter, partly because of their own hesitation to use unwieldy, hard to gauge clippers that can cause heavy bleeding if you miscalculate by even a tiny amount and because both you and your dog are apprehensive about the procedure. If we can teach wild animals to offer their paws for nail filing and their tails for blood sampling you can be assured that you can achieve this goal with your own dog.

I have discovered a very good source for these scratchboards and am pleased to collaborate with ScratchPad for Dogs TM on this project. Take a look at their products, here:

Keep in mind the most important piece of information: Always present the tools you will need: brush, comb, nail clippers, bottle of ear cleaner, toothpaste etc. first. If your dog doesn’t recoil or move: reward THEN. Do not try to lure the dog by holding a cookie and then when the dog approaches pull out your tool. That cookie will become a predictor for the scary brush to appear and devalue the treat! So if your dog backs away when the brush appears: wait for the dog to voluntarily take up the highly rewarded “position” again and then present the brush from farther away. Your job is to make the dog feel successful!

Want a lesson to achieve the goal of establishing a relaxation spot for your dog? For help with this and turning it into a safe, fun party: book an online session. This is a lesson that is really easy to teach remotely and is something I can easily instruct you to do via streaming. I promise it’s going to be exciting and rewarding for you and your doggie. 

Reach out to me on my website to easily book an online or in-person coaching session for grooming and any other need you or your dog may have!


Friday 28 February 2020

Puppy Training Tips: Constant Comments

In my work with puppies I often find that related issues pop up in waves.

We all know that dogs crave attention. In turn, we adore how they look at us lovingly when we give them attention. We love admiring how cute they are, how smart they are and we are amazed by the deep emotional impact all that cuteness has on us.

What we seem to overlook is that fawning and constant commenting are reinforcing the pup’s behavior in real time! The puppy more than the humans realizes that playing keep away gets them at least as much attention as coming when called.

“Oh honey…we have to go out now and come on come on we have to go now, let’s put on your harness…here…here…I will lure you with a treat…haha you are running away…look I have a treat…oh, don’t do that! “What are you doing over there? Oh, don’t eat the rug! What is it that you have in your mouth? Why don’t you play with your toy instead, oh don’t bark, don’t whine…why are you whining… What do you want?!”

In that constant stream of verbal attention, why should the puppy know what to ignore and when to pay attention?

How does he differentiate between running commentary and an actual cue?

Also keep in mind that dogs have to learn to understand specific words by associating them with physical behaviors first. If your dog does not really know what action to associate with a particular word under a variety of circumstances and with distractions then you cannot expect the dog to perform on cue.

Be aware of the fact that your puppy needs clear guidelines. That does not mean that you have to bark out commands in a military fashion. Just try really hard to show your puppy that behaviors that you do not want to repeat should not have a reinforcing effect on your puppy. Use your actions and words strategically.

Notice them when they are doing the “right” thing,. When your dog ignores you or “does not listen” consider if it’s actually your behavior that is confusing to your puppy.

Do not overwhelm them with constant commenting.

Elisabeth Weiss is a highly certified, experienced dog trainer in Manhattan, NYC. To learn more about dog training services, contact us by phone at (917) 783-1473 or our contact form. 

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