Erica Lieberman Wittenberg is the founder and head trainer at Pawsibilities. Her fascination with animals motivated her to want to better understand dogs and how they learn. After completing her B.A. at Hamilton College and her Masters at The New School, she knew she wanted to work with animals. The idea of positive dog training was something she was so intrigued by that she could not wait to learn more, not just from books, but straight from the source!
As a born and raised New Yorker, Erica volunteered with Manhattan’s Bideawee Shelter for over a year when the head trainer noticed her eagerness and aptitude and invited her to work as an apprentice trainer. Erica learned quickly that when dogs walk well on leashes, they get adopted faster. Whenever she was at Bideawee she did her best to work with each dog on their leash-walking skills. After understanding how essential walking is for dogs, Erica began working for a boutique company that offers training walks for dogs. On each walk they worked on sit, down, stay, come, leave it, heel, hand targeting and name recognition.
While pursuing her interest in animal behavior through reading and attending seminars, she decided it was time to try to work more with behavior cases. This is when Erica joined the training team at a daycare center, and found a place where she would not only make a difference in a dog’s life through obedience but, by being supportive, she could enhance the relationship between a dog and its person as well.
Erica has two cats, a dog and personally cares for her two horses. “Observing dogs, cats and horses on a weekly basis keeps me thinking. Sometimes watching the horses interact will give me the answer to a dog training question, or sometimes my dog training helps my relationship with my other pets.” Erica explains that one of her best training successes was in using a clicker to aid her in teaching her rescue cat to allow his nails to be clipped.
Erica has spent the last several years helping owners throughout the city with their dog’s obedience skills, leash-walking, separation anxiety, aggression and even agility. Erica believes in “spoiling” your dog with training; “Anytime you want to give your dog a treat, just ask them to do something for it! They will love it and you will love the results”
Erica was Manhattan’s first Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainer. Erica is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge and Skills Assessed, double certification, and she holds her certification from the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Erica also holds her CBATI, or Certified Behavior Adjustment Training Instructor, a specialized certification focusing on fear and aggression based behaviors. Please be advised that there is no required certification or licensing to become a dog trainer or behavior consultant. Erica has elected to earn these certifications. We encourage you to visit the following websites for help in choosing a Professional Trainer and/or Behavior Consultant: www.vspdt.com, www.iaabc.org, and www.ccpdt.org.
Check out Erica’s appearance in NBC’s COZiTV’s reality show ‘Pushing It’