Saturday, December 18, 2021

Homemade Holiday Dog Treats

 Simple 4 ingredient dog treats that every dog (and cat) are sure to love!

Azul is very picky eater and his favorite treat is the treat he's never had before, so I decided to do something special for a holiday treat for Azul and some of his friends.  I searched and searched looking for a recipe that met everyone's needs and when I didn't find one, I made one up.  So here it is:

Sweet Sardine Surprise

  • 1 can of Sardines (in water, avoid extra flavor additives)
  • 1 cup of Sweet Potato (doesn't need to be exact)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of flour (can be regular flour or a rice version for dogs who need gluten free)
My first step is to dump the sardines including the water from the can into a bowl and mash with a fork.  Then add the sweet potato and keep mashing.  Once those have blended, add the egg. (Egg shells are great for dogs so you could include the shell, but my picky eaters don't like the shell so I left it out.)  And last but not least, stir in the flour slowly.  I mix this all up until it's so thick that I can barely stir it any more with my weak hands.  This should be the consistency of a thick paste not so unlike that of a meatloaf before cooking.



I have silicone baking trays shaped like dog bones and paw prints that we found at Walmart, but you could use any silicone mold that you have.  Although my husband insisted that I didn't use any of "his" silicone as he thinks the sardine taste would never wash out.  LOL, it might be worth the investment to have some dog only molds, which we do anyways due to the Gluten Free issues of some of family members.  
Lightly spray the molds with a cooking oil to prevent the treats from sticking.  Then smear the meat mixture into the molds.  This is a messy process as the mixture doesn't like to stick in the mold with the non-stick spray.  So I start with big, dabs of the mixture dropped on the molds and push it down into the holes.  I let one mold rest a bit while I fill the next mold, which is what the middle mold is doing.  Then once I'm done spreading, I'll go back and gently scrape the extra on the top off with my spatula.  I'm not too picky about getting every last bit of the edges because these will make nice crispy, crumbs that I can toss into my dog's meal bowl with kibble for an extra bonus.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and bake treats for 15 minutes at this temp.  Then reduce the temp to 325 degrees and continue backing for roughly 45 minutes.  This should dehydrate the treats enough that they are not filled with extra moisture making them super soft.  You can bake longer for cruncher treats or shorter for softer treats.

Since Azul is so picky when it comes to treats, I've decided to keep some of these on hand in a special jar labeled Migraine Alert & Response Incentives!








When Clients Cancel

 


Top Reasons that I don't mind when a client cancels or needs to reschedule a training session.

There are many reasons that a client may need to cancel or reschedule a training session.  I try to be as flexible as possible when this happens.  But I hear from family, friends, and other clients quite regularly...Why do you put up with that.  These top reasons are not in any special order, but this is why I don't mind the need to cancel or reschedule.
  • Life happens!  We all have unexpected things happen every day.  Sometimes those unexpected things can be dealt with quickly, sometimes it's not so quick.  As a disabled person, on any given day I could suddenly not be well enough to leave me house.  I do everything in my power to cancel early if I know I'm having a bad health day, but sometimes my issues come on suddenly and some issues I can work through while others I can't.  Needless to say, I may need to cancel at a moments notice.  I ask my clients to be understanding when that happens, so it's only right that I allow that same curtesy to my clients.
  • When I schedule a training session with any client, my focus is helping that client and their dog to become a better team.  My focus is not on making money to support myself or have spending money.  (Although making money is always a benefit to me.)  With the goal being to help my clients, it wouldn't be right to ask them to show up for their session if they are going to be distracted, wishing they were somewhere else, or be in physical discomfort.  I want my clients and their dogs to be able to focus on our goals for that session.  If my clients or dogs are seeming to have a bad day, I'm probably going to suggest that we end early and set up another appointment on a different day anyways.
  • If a client cancels or reschedules last minute, I'm usually already prepped and ready for the session and sometimes at our meeting site already.  While this can be frustrating, it's also a mixed blessing for me because now I'm at some wonderful place with my Service Dog right beside me and we can go on an adventure there by ourselves enjoying some much needed "get back to nature" time together.  Getting out the door to go on an adventure is half the battle, so in this case we are already dressed, geared up, and prepared for fun.  And Azul and I can pretty much find FUN anywhere we are together!  So I find myself geared up and in training mode while being in an awesome place that we can now play & explore together.  It doesn't get more awesome then that!
  • There is almost always an awesome perk to a cancelled training session!  In today's case, I was able to take a few minutes of our hike time to record this training video about using different leash skills for different environments.  If your struggling with loose leash walking or have a dog that pulls you all over the place, you should be sure to watch this video to see how Azul and I walk together as a team.  

If you need to improve your leash handling skills and teach your dog to walk better on leash so you can both enjoy your time together more, please reach out to me at yooperpaws@gmail.com.

Additional Fees that may effect a canceled or rescheduled session.

I rarely ask clients to pay a fee at the time of scheduling such as a booking fee, and only charge for my time spent in actual training.  However, if I feel a client is cancelling far too often or if I need to travel outside of my normal area then a prepaid travel fee might be necessary.  Please understand that is to protect my costs involved with showing up whether or not we accomplish a training session.  That is why travel fees are not refundable if the client needs to cancel or reschedule.  Travel fees are always discussed prior to scheduling a session and are individualized to the client based on the amount of travel time and miles to reach that client's desired meeting location.



Friday, December 17, 2021

Puppy Relaxation Routine

Creating a Calm Puppy


A common mis-conception is that a tired puppy will be a calm, happy puppy.  However puppies do not automatically know how to be calm.  Different breeds tend to have different needs and some calm down more easily then others.  But no matter what breed or age your puppy is, you can help lead them to be more calm by following these steps for a few minutes a day.

Here is my basic relaxation protocol to get you started along the path to creating a calm environment for you and your young puppy.  This can be done any time of day and tweaked to something that is more comfortable to you and your pup.  The key is to move together from a more energized state into a relaxed state.  We will practice this in class each week.  But I urge you to make this part of your daily routine.  You'll thank me later.


Step 1:  Prep Supplies Needed

Set up for relaxation success before you enjoy your high stimulation activity.  Prepare a mat or blanket, treats, chew toys, music, anything you will use in your relaxation setting before you engage in your high energy activity.  This will help you transition more effectively from your top energizing state to your more relaxed state your aiming for.  For me, that involves having my pup's blanket mat, some high value but low movement rewards (this can be a few treats, a bone to chew, a licky mat or other food toy, etc) and whatever supplies I need for myself (music, puzzle or game to hold my focus, and a water bottle.)

Step 2:  Have Fun Together

Have some fun together!  You want to teach your pup how to transition from go-go-go mode to a be still mode so you have to GO get some exercise before you become calm.  For me this is best done after some GO activity already in my day, such as going out for a potty break with some sniffing (de-stressing for your dog) and practicing some easy skills.  I want my dogs to enjoy going inside so we typically end outdoor sessions with a couple of treats near the outside door for simple things like sit, back, down or sometimes a quick name game with tossed treats.  Remember FUN!

Step 3:  Take a YOU time out

This can be a few seconds or minutes based on your needs, but don't take forever or your dog won't pair the next step with the previous step.  The basic idea is disengage from your dog to accomplish something...take my shoes and coat off and put them away, use the bathroom or blow my noise, whatever I need to do when I come inside.

Step 4:  Refocus your puppy on you. 

Re-engage with your dog with a simple directional cue; send to blanket/mat, let's go this way, follow me, etc.  If you haven't trained any directional cues, start with easy sit, down, basic cues.   Keep it low key and calming.

Step 5:  Be role model of calmness

Join your puppy in the area you will be doing calm activities in.  When you and your dog are both in position, slowly remove any gear or clothing your dog was wearing in your go session beginning from the outer layers working in; leash, harness, bandana, collar (if your dog enjoys having the collar off!) Do this very slowly with love and petting along the way.  Make sure your getting your pups favorite spots!  A butt scratch, belly rub, etc.  This is a great time to desensitize to grooming tools such as a brush, nail file, towel drying if pup is wet, etc.  But go slow using the tool for only seconds if it's new to your pup and slowly build up time using that tool over the next few weeks.  I like to switch up my grooming tools so pup doesn't always need the grooming to relax.  I typically do nails once a week, towel dry as needed, brush often or simply spend a few extra minutes rubbing or petting my dog.

Step 6: Connect & Disconnect

Start switching back and forth from engaging with your dog to ignoring your dog doing your own relaxation.  At first you flip back and forth fairly quickly, spending more time engaging your dog and less time on your activity.  But as you progress slowly switch this the other way, less engagement with your dog and more time with your activity until you reach the end goal of both being relaxed.

Tips: 

You don't have to do this whole process EVERY time you take a potty break!  But do try to do it at least once a day.  If you practice every day, your dog will start to generalize the activity making it take less time to relax.

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!  If your dog isn't cooperating, chances are they have a need you haven't met yet.  This could be food, water, exercise, or pretty much anything.  So if it's not working, walk away take care of needs and try again later or tomorrow.

Be flexible!  Change this basic protocol to fit you and your dog.  You might be working with multiple dogs, which makes this more challenging.  You might find mornings, afternoons or evenings work better for your team.  Try different things until you figure out what works.

Enjoy a more peaceful and calm environment and mental state with your dog!


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Creating a Calm Christmas

 CREATING A CALM CHRISTMAS

Christmas can be hard on many people and pups too! I often get comments from my clients on how they attempted to travel with their dogs for the holidays and it was a total disaster with a spaz of a dog that was totally out of control. But there are some simple steps you can take to make the holidays easier on yourself and your dog! First off is with a few activities to encourage calming behaviors and second involves management of your environment. I can't promise these will help your pup and you to have an amazing holiday, but they will surely help!




Basic any day calming behaviors:

  1. Simple Grooming - Brushing, massage, great belly rubs, or butt scratches... We do a variety of activities to provide basic care and daily interaction with our dogs. And most generally we can tell what our pups really like. Spend some time grooming your dog in their favorite way before you dress yourself up for Holiday fun. (I say before simply to keep your holiday clothes clean!) Even if you'd rather spend the day relaxing in your PJ's, spruce your dog up with some of their favorite grooming methods. This often helps us to have a few minutes of love & kindness type feelings that dogs can recognize which in turn has a calming effect on both of us.
  2. Get some light exercise together. Often we tend to want to run our dogs to encourage them to expend as much energy in as short of time as possible on busy holidays. Chasing balls, going for a jog, etc. If your dog is used to high speed exercise every day, it won't hurt to give them a little high speed fun. But then end with a low key sniffy walk around the backyard to allow your dog to slow their heart down before heading back indoors. If you live in a cold climate, we often try to use a fenced yard or tie out to have our dogs sniff and go potty. This is functional for us, but not as pleasing or satisfying to our dogs. So strap on your hats and mittens and spend 10-15 minutes being with your dog outside before the hustle and bustle begins inside.
  3. Prepare a yummy treat for your dog. Whether you use food toys or snuffle boxes or some other form of reward based enrichment activities this is a great way to help use up some mental energy in a nice calm way. Add something extra yummy to their food toys for the holidays. For example - spread peanut butter, mashed sweet potatoes or other soft goodie on a licky mat or on a spiked/nubbed toy. The licking is very calming to your dog. You can also prepare these before the holiday and toss them in the freezer for an extra treat that takes even longer to work at. If you're not sure about which foods are safe for dogs and which are not, it's easy to find holiday themed lists on google or check with your vet first. Better safe than sorry!
  4. Provide a "safe" place for your dog to relax. Even if your dog loves everyone, that doesn't mean they can entertain the crowds for long periods of time. If your dog is not so sure of strangers coming to your home, having a safe, comfortable place for them to be away from all the activities is a must! Some dogs love a crate or cave to rest in. Perhaps you've trained your dog to go to a blanket or mat. Or maybe your dog snuggles in bed with you every night. Choose one of their favorite places and tell family and guests that the dog is off limits in his place, so no touching, calling or interactions with your dog when they are in their safe spot. Be sure to check in with your dog regularly to make sure they are taking time to relax. Christmas morning this may be especially important even if you don't have company over. With all the excitement of presents and the mess that tends to make, our dogs can easily get overwhelmed very quickly.
  5. If you're traveling and your dog is going with you, pack a few of their favorite things for your trip. A blanket or dog bed, a nice chew toy or food puzzle, a longline for relaxed potty breaks, and any other items that work to calm your dog should be packed along with food and water for your pup. The length of time and how often you visit the place you are going to, can be useful in determining what you may need. I'm going out of town in a few days, so I need more for my dog than I would if I was heading to a friend's house for a few hours. Visiting a few times before the holiday helps as well. I don't have the luxury of visiting before the holiday because it's a long drive, but instead I can arrive early and settle in before the craziness begins.
You may be familiar with the idea to set your training sessions up for success. This is important for Holidays too! The daily routine is often different, which is hard on some dogs that thrive on routine. Plan for those changes by doing one or more of these calming activities throughout the holidays. Use meal times and potty times as a chance for your dog to wind down away from the hustle & bustle.

12 Dog Days of Christmas: Day 1

Add some fun to your Holidays with the 12 Dog Days of Christmas Photo Challenge!

Yes I know typically the 12 Days of Christmas begins on Dec 25th and goes after Christmas, but how many people really want to spend the time after the 25th getting in the Christmas spirit. So I've decided to do this fun photo game leading up to Christmas. The game will be simple:
1. Follow the Yooper Paws website at
http://www.yooperpaws.com/ or Like the Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/YooperPawsOfLove/ to see the daily posts. 2. As you have fun playing with your dog, getting them to do the 12 Days of Training, take pictures and post them to our facebook page or email them to us at yooperpaws@gmail.com 3. Invite your friends and family to join in the fun! On the first day of Christmas my doggie did this for me, sat in pretty Christmas scene! I choose this for Day 1 because this is something easy almost every dog on the planet already knows how to do...Sit. And who doesn't like taking Christmas pictures of your pet. If you didn't, you wouldn't be participating in this fun Training event.



     








Monday, December 13, 2021

Teaching Stay

 Teaching Stay & Why this concept is more difficult for many working dogs!

This concept can be very confusing for people because we all have different needs and different expectations for our dogs ability to follow this cue. So before I talk about how I train a stay, I want to address some of the options or uses of this cue and similar cues.


The AKC basic Stay looks like this: You ask your dog to sit or down and walk to the end of your 20 ft longline, expecting your dog to hold position until you hit your desired spot and then call the dog to you. There are higher levels in AKC that call for more, but this is the basic understanding of how the dog demonstrates they know the behavior. This has become the standard of what people expect from working dogs such as Service Dogs (SD) and Therapy Dogs(TD). But this is also difficult for a SD to understand because we focus so much on their ability to move with us and follow us throughout the day, that this seems as though we are changing the rules suddenly asking them to stay while we walk away.

I use a variety of other cues similar to “stay” that have a slightly different meaning to make it easier for my dogs to understand what I want them to do. First I teach a strong “wait” cue. For me “wait” means, this is going to be a temporary pause so keep standing and watch me for signs of moving forward. I always start this training at a crosswalk because it's an easy environmental change the dog can figure out. With a younger or new dog, I will ask them to sit at the crosswalk then give them a “let's go” signal when it's safe to proceed. But as I trust my dog to actually wait, I slowly phase out the sit cue allowing the dog to choose to stand if they want to as long as they wait for my release cue. Then I eventually transition the release cue from the verbal “let's go” to the physical action of picking up my foot and taking a step. At this point in the training, I may also add in my “heel” cue that has been taught in other environments in place of “let's go” since I want my dogs to know that we only cross any road if we are in heel together. Eventually, I don't want to give any verbal cues in this situation but we also encounter new situations regularly where I use these cues often. Basically “wait” means stop and pay attention for some additional cue to be coming in the near future.

I also use a “settle” cue which sometimes is interchanged with an “under” or a “blanket” cue depending on the situation. Settle basically means the dog is to stay in this particular area until they are released. For example, if I want the dog to settle under a table I will give the cue “under” pointing to the table. The dog then is often asked to lay down initially, but in the “settle” situation the dog can get up, turn around, curl up, stretch out, or whatever else they want to do as long as they are calm and stay in the environment provided. I use “blanket” to define an area that doesn't have any natural boundaries for the dog to understand the assigned area. Places like under a table or chair, in a corner, between 2 chairs all provide natural boundaries that my dog can understand without a blanket or mat. If I'm using a self checkout, my dog knows the area is defined as settle near me. But if I'm in an open space such as teaching a dog training session, a blanket or mat allows me to define a space in an area that does not have defined spaces. So all these cues basically have the same meaning, but are used in difficult situations.

Getting back to teaching the AKC standard “stay” cue for anyone who wants to train this position. I like to start with my dog in a down position, mainly because it is easy to read their body language to know if they are about to break the stay by standing up, so I make sure my dogs understands and easily applies the “down” cue. Then once in a down, I start by taking one step back while facing my dog and only holding that for 1 second before returning to my dog and giving the reward. Each successful time, I will try adding 1 step so I quickly move from 1 step to 3-4 steps away from the dog, but still only holding it for a 1 second and returning to the dog. After about 3 minutes of practice, we get up and do something fun then may or may not return to more “stay” training depending on the mental alertness of the dog on that day. After I've made my way up to about 5 steps away successfully a handful of times, I will again go back to 1 step away to start building up the time from 1 second slowly adding up to 5 seconds. Depending on the dog in front of you, the rate at which you increase time or distance will vary. I always return to my dog to provide reinforcement for this training until my dog is solid on what the “stay” cue means. I want to help them to be successful so I teach “stay” completely before I add in the recall cue of “come.” Another tip, I only use “come” as a recall cue in this type of training! When I need to recall my dog in real life situations, I use a special recall cue that is just for me and my dogs. This saves my “come” cue for when I absolutely need a “stay” to be rock solid, which is very rare in my day to day life.

Working Paws Comment

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