Graceful Canine

Graceful Canine Dog training in Manhattan. Private lessons in your home. Urban Manners, aggression towards dogs, separation anxiety and other behavior problems.


This is spot on! Don’t feel bad if your dog is more selective.
Thanks to for these words of wisdom.

NYC area adopters, here's a pretty boy for you.

NYC area adopters, here's a pretty boy for you.



When Your Best Friend Bites
By: Jess Feliciano CDBC

Tiptoeing around teeth in your own home isn’t exactly what someone expects when they acquire a dog. The fundamental age-old idea of having a dog is like having a best friend. But what happens when your best friend displays aggression towards you?

Read more here

Summer and heat danger for dogs

Summer and heat danger for dogs

A post about the most important hazard of summer: Heat can be dangerous for your dog.

There are many PSAs about the hazards of hot weather; so many that we may become desensitized to their message. I hope these thoughts can help to bring more attention to prevention of worst case scenarios.

-- As tempting as it may be, choose not to bring your dog to summer events such as street festivals and parades. Somehow this seems to be overlooked by people with the best intentions. At our local Pride event in Philadelphia it was blisteringly hot, yet I encountered one dog after another, dressed in rainbow finery and panting heavily while their humans slowly meandered through the crowd.

-- Use common sense in the car. Running into a store to pick up a few things allows enough time for the car's internal temperature to rise very, very quickly. Don't do it -- take your canine passenger home, and come back for those few things without her. If you absolutely must leave your dog briefly, keep the engine and air conditioning on and lock the door.

-- During the summer months, change your dog walking schedule to accommodate the rise in temperature. Walk him at dawn or after sunset. On days expected to reach very high temperatures, stick to one longer walk at daybreak (see the happy Cardigans in the photo :)) -- or none at all.

-- Get into the habit of bending down to touch the ground. If it's hot to your hand, it's not safe for your dog's pads.

-- Watch your dog's attitude - if she's dragging along, panting hard or reluctant to move, go back home. Along with that, know the signs of heat stress or, when more severe, hyperthermia (heat "stroke"):
---- Uneasiness, anxiety, whining
---- Drooling
---- Gums and tongue extremely red
---- Exaggerated panting
---- Collapse
---- Seizures

-- If you feel there are signs of heat stress, move your dog quickly to a cooler, shaded or air conditioned location. Wet the bottoms (pads) of his feet; offer water. If the heavy panting and other signs persist, take him to an emergency veterinary clinic.

Please remember that your dog will feel uncomfortable and become overheated well before you do.


🟠 Dogs aren’t ever out to get us or do something to anger us “on purpose”.
🟠 If your dog destroys something when you’re gone you need to evaluate if stress is a cause for this, or perhaps your dog just isn’t trusted yet to be out of a crate or other confinement just yet.
🟠 If your dog pees on the floor for the 100th time today it’s not because he’s “mad at you”, it’s because you haven’t properly potty trained him. (By the way I do potty coaching if you need help with this! Visit my site for that
🟠 If your dog grabs things off the counter and runs, she’s likely just having a lot of fun! It’s self-rewarding to grab things and it’s even more fun if a chase ensues. Work on counter-surfing and employ management when you cannot supervise.
‼️ Whatever behavior your dog may do that makes you say “he’s naughty” you should stop and ask yourself, but why? There is usually an answer and a solution that’s quite simple! Sometimes it might be complex, but either way it’s not because your dog is just “bad”.
🌟 Training is a glorious thing when done properly and consistently! Hire a trainer today!


Warning: banging sound

I've been worried about how he would react when my neighbor started renovating. I did some prep work, but this is all him. He still launches off the sofa if he hears anyone whisper in the hallway.

Getting in your dog's face and barking at them is not nice. And it can get you a bite to your pretty face! Don't do it.

Getting in your dog's face and barking at them is not nice. And it can get you a bite to your pretty face! Don't do it.

Currently, a popular trend on TikTok is the “bark at your dog" challenge. The goal is to get a reaction from your dog for a video.


If your dog developed an obsession with licking things, from carpet floors and furniture to your own arms and legs, it could be a red flag for GI issues.


Not a week goes by where I don't have to reassure a concerned dog owner their dog's social behaviour at the park is 100% NORMAL!

It's so strange the way we expect our dogs to go to the park, meet 5-10 random dogs, and get along with them all perfectly.

Me? I hate going to nightclubs. I'd rather have coffee with one or two friends, or maybe a walk. Maybe you're the opposite and love going to crowded pubs and making new friends! Neither of us are 'abnormal'. Ok ok, maybe I am - sometimes I take a book to the pub to sit quietly and enjoy my craft brew...

So the sooner we all realise that our dogs have personalities too, the sooner we can stop creating goals for our dogs that they'll never enjoy.

If your dog is aggressive or nervous around other dogs, it's totally reasonable to have a goal to get them to walk past another dog on leash at say 5m distance. It's not a reasonable goal to expect them to enjoy playing with random dogs at the dog park!

As humans, we rarely stop to chat to folks on the street, unless we know them. Somehow this idea goes out the window with dogs, and there's this weird expectation to meet every single other dog on a walk! That's pretty stressful.

Most people want want their dogs to cope with the fair expectations of living safely in our community - to be neutrally social and robust. So let's set some fair expectations:

🐩🐕 Think about your dog's play style. Different breeds play differently! Eg herding, wrestling, body slamming, chasing...

🐕‍🦺🦮 Find a couple of well matched doggy friends for your dog, and let them play in low traffic locations (eg someone's backyard, a secluded park) to enjoy play time.

👋 Set the expectation early that not all dogs are there for play! Teach your puppy that most dogs you meet on the street aren't relevant to them.

🤚Advocate for your dog in play. Don't allow dogs to 'sort it out', or for your dog to bully or be bullied.

🤷‍♀️ Avoid dog parks. Sorry folks, these places generally suck for fair, beneficial and harmonious play.

Happy playing!
Image courtesy of

The problems of pandemic pups

The problems of pandemic pups

"When we go for a walk in the park, or through neighborhood streets, I’ve sometimes thought, 'What if I leave him here, right now?'"


We know better, so we do better.

(This can be a polarizing topic and we welcome kind debate on this page. Name calling, derogatory, and sarcastic statements will be deleted.)

Yes. Although I had the chat over lunch, but this comes up all the time. Never punish your dog when s/he comes to you. E...

Yes. Although I had the chat over lunch, but this comes up all the time. Never punish your dog when s/he comes to you. Even if they ran out the front door and almost got hit by a car and scared you to death. Reward them for coming to you, and they'll be more likely to come back the next time. Then work on boundary training so they don't run out the door again.

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter if your dog sits when you ask them to, but coming when called could save their life - it's worth paying for that behavior every single time (no matter how angry you are that they left your side to begin with.)


If your dog is struggling with anxiety or reactivity, the best place to start your training is with something we call a “cortisol holiday”.
Whenever a dog is stressed, their body releases stress hormones like cortisol. These hormones are designed to do things like increase the heart rate and blood pressure, and ensure the body’s cells are fueled with energy. This means that a stressed dog is ready for action; the famous fight or flight.

Acute stress is useful for preparing an animal to deal with a threatening situation, but chronic stress can be very detrimental. If a dog is entering a stressed state frequently, the stress hormones will begin to build to higher and higher levels. Many reactive dogs have become stuck in a pattern of an ever increasing build up of stress hormones, without the chance to return to normal in between. While the dog is bubbling over with so much stress, it’s very difficult to make progress with reducing their reactivity or anxiety.

To kick-start your training, plan out a period of at least two weeks where you systematically reduce or eliminate stressful events in your dog’s life. Start by making a list of your dog’s triggers; situations that cause them to go into fight and flight mode. Work your way through the list and brainstorm ways to avoid each trigger, or at least lessen their impact on your dog. For example, if one of your dog’s triggers is the sight of another dog, you could change the time of day or location of your walks to avoid encountering any other dogs, or even avoid walks altogether during the cortisol holiday and replace them with mental and physical enrichment at home. If your dog is triggered by the sight of people walking past your house, you could attach some frosted glass window film to your front facing windows. If your dog is reactive to noises from your neighbours you can play some white noise or a radio to muffle the triggering sounds. It won’t necessarily be possible to eliminate every trigger, but the more you can avoid the greater the benefit to the dog.

Once your dog has completed their cortisol holiday, they’ll be in a much better place to start working on learning to relax around their triggers.

If your dog struggles with anxiety or reactivity a professional behaviour consultant can assist you to develop a training plan to help your dog learn to be confident and relaxed around their triggers. The goal when working with these dogs should always be to address the emotion underlying the behaviour, rather than just trying to stop the symptoms.
Check out Beacon Dog Training’s upcoming seminar “Stress & Anxiety In Dogs: Helping Complicated Canines” running on Wednesday 1st September at 6:00pm at our Carrara, QLD facility:

It's been hard to find adoptable dogs in the NYC area. Here's a sweet one. She's been in foster so we know how great she...

It's been hard to find adoptable dogs in the NYC area. Here's a sweet one. She's been in foster so we know how great she is.

Stop by Cafe Bark NYC to meet the Marvelous Adoptable Mabel! Rescuzilla

Socialization is not just meeting people and dogs.

Socialization is not just meeting people and dogs.

Socialization is an often used- and often misunderstood- term.

Many new dog and puppy guardians are taught by other dog guardians (and sometimes by dog trainers!) that socialization is about making your puppy meet every dog they see, play with every dog at the park, and interact with every single human they see on a walk. Sometimes they are even given a list and told that their puppy needs to interact with every single thing on the list- from a 130-pound Newfoundland to a black and white cow to a three-legged cat to a uniformed firefighter wearing a loud jetpack, moon boots, and a magician’s hat (just kidding; but sometimes it does feel that specific!).

The truth is that socialization is not all about strange dogs and strange humans.
It is not about checking items off a list (though it is helpful to be reminded of various types of novelty to explore with your pup).
And it is definitely not about interacting with every single dog and every single human you see.

In fact, insisting on interaction with dogs and people can, and often will sensitize your puppy to other dogs and people. This results in an adolescent or adult dog who either a) assumes they get to greet every person and every dog, and becomes frustrated when they learn that is not the case, or b) is frightened of strange dogs and humans because they had negative interactions with them as a puppy.

Socialization is about structured, intentional, and POSITIVE experiences with all types of novel things and environments. It should primarily be about calmly observing, pairing the experiences with tasty treats, and then carrying on your way.

Learn to advocate for your puppy or dog- one negative experience can erase 100 positive ones.
Learn to say no to strange dogs and people, and protect your puppy’s confidence and optimism.
Learn to sit back and watch instead of running headlong into the mix.
Think about what you’d like your adult dog to do in novel situations, and then help your puppy practice those behaviors!

Beautiful explanation of how a trainer can help more than a Google search. Barking is a great example. There are devices...

Beautiful explanation of how a trainer can help more than a Google search. Barking is a great example. There are devices that are supposed to stop dogs from barking, and they may for a time. If you don't find out why the dog is barking, and address the reason, the dog is merely shut down, and the problem is not fixed. Whatever is causing them to bark is still there, and may cause anxiety, aggression, self harm or other issues. Talk to a professional. Skip the quick fix.


Join us for three FREE WEBINARS in April! 🤗🐶 Which ones are you looking forward to!?
First, next Sat Apr 10, presents “No Time to Train? No Problem!” all about building good behavior in your regular, everyday interactions with your dog!
Then, on Sun Apr 18, .arant , Small and Tall Dog Training, presents our monthly “Advice for Adopters and Puppy Parents” webinar, all about welcoming your new dog or puppy home or helping you better understand your dog you’ve lived with for longer.
And on Sat Apr 24, presents “Attention Games,” all about fun ways to build attention from your dog, and thus build a foundation for connection and training!

Foul Mouthed Fido has something to say about petting dogs

Foul Mouthed Fido has something to say about petting dogs

One of my clients said she feels bad not letting strangers pet her dog. My response: She’s not public property; you’re under no obligation to let strangers pet her. In fact, if she’s made it clear she doesn’t want to be touched by strangers (like many of us feel!), you’re doing her a favor AND the public a favor by respecting her wishes and telling people she’s a “look but don’t touch” dog.

I know it’s hard to not feel guilty when you know she’s a sweetheart and loves to be petted - by people she knows and loves and trusts. But it’s a lot to ask for a dog - any dog - to expect them to be comfortable being touched by random people.

And some people are jerks about it - they act offended or act as if there’s something wrong with you, or her. I try to not let it get to me. I will sometimes say, “She doesn’t like being touched by strangers - and neither do I”, or even “Consent is for everyone”. But if people are persistent and not listening, I don’t hesitate to physically move the dog away, and say, “Sorry, she’s contagious”! The truth is, people aren’t entitled to touch every dog they see, no matter how cute or attractive that dog is.


With new puppies and kids at home, doctors are worried about treating more children for dog bites.


New York, NY


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