New York City’s real estate brokers have taken the innovative step of referring dog-owning clients to a specialized animal training expert who helps make sure the pets (and their owners) pass co-op and condo board interviews to be allowed to reside in some of the nation’s most upscale real estate.
Historically, canine citizenship has been a problem in high-rise buildings, leading to animosity between tenants, warnings, and occasionally even forcing owners to chose between their dogs and their apartments.
Dogs bark when their owners are gone, driving other tenants crazy. Some dogs tend to leap up (if they’re hyper) on other people when traveling in elevators, or growl and bark (if they’re unfriendly). Sudden, loud confrontations between even leashed dogs in the lobby of plush apartment buildings can be unsettling. And, of course, dog waste is a constant irritant.
As a result, co-op and condo boards have become more strict than ever about the dogs of prospective buyers. Some buildings prohibit canines out-right, while many more require interviews and even letters-of-reference from friends or prior neighbors.
Enter Bash Dibra, a 30-year dog trainer whose current clientele includes Hollywood stars and the business elite.
“A lot of people think one day, ‘Let’s get a dog,’ and they go off to the shelter to get one,” says Debra. “They don’t realize that when they adopt a dog, they’re getting all its baggage too. If the dog has been dumped, maybe it’s because it barked whenever it was left alone. Maybe it makes ‘mistakes.’ (Defecting in the wrong places.)
“That’s where training comes in.”
Debra charges $300 per hour to train a dog – but emphasizes he usually needs to train the owner, as well.
“You have to show the dog that the owner is in charge, but you have to train the owner to be the one in charge,” Debra says. “The owner has to be the captain of the ship.
“The owners have to know how to interpret signals. He has to think like a dog. You’d be surprised at the number of owners who expect a dog to feel like a human.
“At times, the dog may regress. But if you train the owner, he’ll know what to do to fine-tune the animal.”
Debra has had good luck working with clients seeking homes in high-rise New York.
A typical co-op board interview with owner and dog will last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, and occasionally as long as an hour. What boards are looking for are dogs that do not lunge at strangers, lay down properly, and never make “mistakes” either in the home or in an elevator. “They want dogs that are impeccably housebroken,” says Debra.