Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas Eve Fun

He promptly
 

Christmas is rapidly approaching as today is Christmas Eve! Looking back at some of our December Fun List of activities there are a few we simply didn't get to doing this year. That's OK, because Christmas will come again next year! This post is going to have a quick glimpse of some of the things I haven't had a chance to write about yet. Starting with our Christmas Card at the top of this page!


Our Yooper Paws Christmas Presents have been wrapped and placed under the tree! Azul has 2 new toys and chew toy under the tree. 


He needed an early present yesterday to release some stress so he opened his knuckle bone for some chewing. He promptly took it to my bed and left nice crumbly pieces all over Dad's side of the bed!  Azul also received a package in the mail from his Yooper Paws Puppy friends Nick & Pau, puppals from Clovis, California. Azul isn't totally sure that he loves the Topple food dispenser as of yet, but he started Christmas Eve out with a topple full of turkey for breakfast. Thanks Cindy for thinking of us this holiday season.

Dog Treat Goodie Bags

We have been busy all week making dog treats and assembling dog treat snack bags for our local friends to accompany the other presents we will be delivering. Snack bags include a small lickmat with ground turkey & black beans or a stuffed bone with salmon & sweet potato, then doggie treat baggies including Liver Snaps, Salmon & Sweet Potato Snacks, & Sweet Potato Pie treats. Our local friends are going to eat good this Christmas!

The plan is deliver the remaining local presents tonight after it get's dark so we can check out the Christmas Lights while we do it. It's been an old family tradition to go on a Christmas Lights drive on Christmas Eve. We started this when our kids were little and it was the last act of the night before heading off for bed. Now that the kids are all grown, we sometimes do this throughout December but haven't done it on Christmas Eve in a few years. I'm looking forward to doing it on Christmas Eve again this year. We will have the heater on HIGH so Azul can enjoy his back window down and enjoy some sniffs.

We will spend the afternoon watching Christmas movies and having fun inside as weather is still pretty bitter outside. We will also be sharing some special treats by the fire. Azul likes to eat by the fireplace when it is off but I like to eat by the fireplace when its warm...we might compromise and eat our goodies at different times! LOL But we will do our best to capture a fireplace photo today!

We have both Chocolate Chip Cookies ready for Santa and Liver Snaps for Santa Paws. It's my understanding that the reindeer enjoy Sweet Potato Pie so we will have a few of those treats ready to go as well. Azul and I will sprinkle the reindeer treats in the driveway on one of our potty trips this afternoon so they will be ready as night falls and the reindeer start their evening journey.


We hope you have a wonderful time celebrating the holidays with your loved ones!
And we hope you've enjoyed the December Fun List of Activities to Do with Your Dog!

And don't think I forgot about donating some dog food & dog toys! We had presents all picked out for Cam and since he didn't quite make it to Christmas we will be finding a dog in need to share his treasures with. Cam was a special soul and would want another less fortunate pup to enjoy his goodies. We just have to search for the special pup in need.


Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Accomplishments of 2022

 Accomplishments of 2022

It's been quite the year for Yooper Paws of Love, as a business, me as a Canine Coach, Azul as a Service Dog. Most of the time it seems like the To-Do List is always long with tons of stuff simply not getting done. But when you take a minute to look back at the calendar and all the things you have done you realize it adds up fast.  
In 2022, I spent a ton of time working on the Yooper Paws and now Crazy2Calm Virtual Training Services updating all the classes that had been run previously and starting many new classes. This would not have been possible without the support of the other Crazy2Calm Canine Coaches and the many Dog Trainers & Behavior Consultants that I've worked with this year.

Here is a short sample of the Yooper Paws 2022 Accomplishments
2022 YP Review by Yooper Paws of Love

Whew, no wonder I'm always rushing from one thing to another!

I really need to thank all the Canine Coaches who have helped me teach the many classes we've offered. Whether they've helped teach, write lessons, supply graphics, edit videos, manage the Facebook pages...without an awesome team, I'd still be working on the first class.

I also have to thank Andy Hale, from Dog Centered Care, because he was the person who encouraged me to start an open chat dialog with other SD Handlers to discuss things that apply to the SD Community. That led to Trainer Talks as it was called in the early meetings, and later was renamed SD Handler Chats. That also led to hosting a special guest once a month on SD Handler Chats which brought some more great people into the Yooper Paws network.

I was so nervous with my first ever chat with Dr. Holly Tett to discuss some ways that SD Handlers can help their Service Dogs in Training through the early stages. This was intended to be a part of one of our Medical Alert Workgroups, however it was so good that this chat is available on YouTube for all to see. And now I'm taking a Business Professionals class with Dr Holly Tett that has already improved my Coaching skills and also helped me streamline some of the things in the day to day operations. Such as creating the online scheduling feature that I now use for in-person and virtual clients.

There are so many other great people out there that have supported me in my dog training journey this year and it would be impossible to thank them all in this blog. Whether you've been a mentor or a mentee, another trainer or one of the students in my classes, a virtual friend or a local friend,
IF YOU ARE READING THIS, YOU'VE HELPED TO MAKE 2022 AWESOME!

Stay tuned for my Planning For Success 2023 Blog that will have information about all the new things and the changes that will take place in the not so distance future. For a sneak preview, I can tell you a few quick snippets:
  • I'm working with a local business to start hosting classes inside an events center! So unbelievably exciting!
  • SD Handler Chat format will be changing! Stay tuned!
  • The NEW Service Dog Public Access Class & Evaluation opportunity will be released.
  • New training will be available to other Canine Coaches and fellow dog nerds, beginning with the Confident Canines Class that begins in January.
  • I'll be pulling together some new Canine Coaches to launch a new series to help dog owners with some of the most common behavioral issues by expanding the discussion beyond the current "one-size-fits-all" approach to dog training.
  • March Focus Around Distractions Mini-Workshop will be coming back for the 2nd year with all new topics & games to help you push your teamwork skills to the next level.
  • Oh, and I can't forget the monthly blog Theme of the Month! This year I will be keeping the same monthly themes and expanding on them even more taking them to the next step too.




Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Hang a Stocking

 Do you hang a stocking for your dog or wrap presents to put under the tree?

Obviously we all love our dogs and enjoy spoiling them with new toys, treats and other goodies. Let's face it, they are all Good Girls & Good Boys and deserve to get special treats for putting up with all that we throw at them during the holiday season. 

How can we use presents for our dogs to help create a Calm Christmas? 

We know that most dogs have certain "loves" that also work to help them relax and reduce stress. While this varies from dog to dog there are some general things that apply to most dogs including chewing, licking, digging, and seeking (hunting). Stressed dogs will often do these things on their own perhaps chewing on the couch or raiding the trash while we are distracted in the other room. If we let our dogs find their own stress relief, it will likely add to our stress when they choose something we didn't approve of. But we can plan a few things to put in their stocking or under the tree to help them relieve stress. We want our stress relieving efforts to also be enriching for dogs so that it will help use up some mental energy. Check out my post on Understanding Enrichment to help determine what your dog might love for Christmas

Ways to invite our dog to do stress relieving behaviors in enriching ways.

Lickmats are a great way to provide a stress reliever in a well timed way. Search the Holiday Cookbook for ideas of foods to spread on your lickmat. Prepare a few mats ahead of time and pop them in the freezer. Then pull them out when you are doing something busy like wrapping/unwrapping presents with the family. You can have the dog go to their safe place (mat, crate, bedroom, where ever they are happy) and enjoy their treasure while you're distracted with holiday activities. If your dog doesn't like the frozen treat, you can pop in the microwave or pull it out 15 min before you are ready to give it to your dog. If you don't have a lickmat, the kids poppers that can be found at the dollar store work wonderfully. You can also use pretty much anything in your kitchen; the spare lids that no longer match any bowls, cups that are the right size for your dog's snout and tongue, the disposable containers microwave meals come in, etc. Anything with ridges or multiple textures will slow your dog down a bit.

Chews are super common and there is a ton of controversy over what is safe for your dog to chew on. Rawhides although very cheap and easy to find are filled with chemicals that I don't want my dogs chewing on. Cooked bones are also off the list of items I let my dogs chew on. My boys are getting some extra large knuckle bones for Christmas as their big chew. No matter what you pick to give your dog to chew, there are a few ways to use that chew to add Calm to your Christmas.
  • If you are in a multi-dog household, keep chews up and out of the area while dogs are roaming to prevent any temptation to resource guard or fight over them.
  • Have your dog lay on a mat, blanket, or towel to chew on the prize. This reinforces calm on the mat. When your dog gets off the mat, the chew is removed and put up unless the dog is called back to the mat to reset the situation. 
  • If I'm doing this with dogs that don't know the rules (stay on the mat) I will either place dogs in separate rooms with a door/gate barrier or use a human roadblock. For example, Azul knows the mat rule but puppy Finnegan, my son's dog, does not so I would place Azul's mat in a corner of the room and sit in front of him so I can stop the Finnegan invasion so Azul doesn't feel threatened. And most likely my son is going to be working on teaching Finnegan the mat rule too. If your not supervising inexperienced dogs closely, put them in separate rooms with a barrier between them.
Digging is a hard one for us to duplicate and often we have worked hard at stopping our dog's digging up the flowers so we may not want to encourage this one unless it's a real passion for dogs. For some dogs, digging up a blanket in the bed trying to get it just right so they can relax is very stress releasing. If your dog loves to do this nesting behavior, pull out the old blankets or towels and give them an extra fluffy place to lay. If you live in a snowy climate like me, you may be able to bury a few treasures in the snow for your dog to dig up. To start with buried treasure should stick out a little bit and over time you can bury it deeper. Cam who loves to chase his tennis balls was always losing them in the snow, while my son's previous dog, Isis was the one that loved digging down with her face in the snow to find the missing balls. Azul would much rather dig for moles in the field then balls or treats. Hanging out in the cold while our dogs dig is not one of our happiest moments during the day, but doing it will surely help our dogs settle more once we go back inside.

Seeking, searching, or hunting for treasures is often the enriching activity that will tire our dogs out the most, yet it takes a bit more time setting up. During the holidays we are all short on time! Things like snuffle boxes can be set up ahead of time where as Find It Games take more human interaction. If we have guests in our home, they can often be entertained with teaching them how to play Find It Games or Hide-n-Seek with our dogs which can be great if you need a few extra minutes in the kitchen and want your guest and dog to interact in a safe way.


But my all time favorite enrichment activity of the holiday season is unwrapping treasures! In this video, Azul and Cam are practicing with a high value treat wrapped loosely with a scrap of wrapping paper. We do this a few times before Christmas so they are familiar with the activity before Christmas morning when they unwrap their new treasures.

You can use wrapping paper, newspaper, cardboard boxes, shipping envelopes, or pretty much anything else your dog can shred or tear to hide treasures inside. We have a few balls made of webbing material that you can thread with scraps of old t-shirt or newspaper and hide kibble inside as well.

You can also lay out a blanket and sprinkle your dog's meal kibble and a few treats on top then roll the blanket up. Some dogs do get the bright idea to pick up the blanket and shake it so all the kibble falls to the floor so do this in an area where you don't mind if your dog eats off the floor.

When it comes to enrichment that will help reduce stress, you really need to know your dog; what they love to do and when they will want/need the enrichment activity the most. This is where I can help you set up ideas before the holiday. So if you need help, set up a 30 min Zoom session ASAP.

If you need help with setting up a plan for more then just enrichment ideas, you may want to schedule a 60 minute Zoom session.

These special rates are only good till Friday, December 23rd! After that, holiday rates will apply!



Monday, December 19, 2022

Holiday Treats


Making holiday treats can be a low cost way to get some high value rewards to help you with Creating a Calm Christmas! Last year I created a blog on the Sweet Sardine Surprise and this year my holiday treat is Luscious Beef Liver Snacks! 

Liver snacks are a simple 4 ingredient recipe that only takes a few minutes to put together. Let's face it, when it comes to cooking I want simple and quick. But with the recipe the blender or food processor does all the work. Simply mix ingredients spoon into molds and bake. Cam and Azul absolutely love these and Maverick gave them the 2 Paws Up rating today too! Here is the recipe:

Beef Liver Snacks

Ingredients:

  1. 1 Package of fresh/frozen beef liver.

  2. 1 Can of Peas

  3. 1 Can of Carrots

  4. ¼ Cup of Mashed Potato Flakes


Directions:

  • Put liver in a blender first.

  • Drain peas & carrots and add to the liver.

  • Slowly stir in potato flakes to thicken to the consistency of brownie mix.

  • Spray silicone baking molds and place on cookie sheet.

  • Pour mixture into molds.


Bake/Freeze: 

  • Bake at 350 degrees for 18-24 minutes depending on the size of the mold. Larger molds such as meatloaf molds, might take longer.



For more great recipes, check out the
Crazy2Calm Canine Coaches: Working Paws Holiday Cookbook

PDF Version


Using Homemade Holiday Treats to Create a Calm Christmas

Extra tasty treats come in handy for a wide variety of reasons during the holidays. We can use treats to desensitize to new and potentially scary items, people, or other things that are not normally found in your home. Let's face it, our dogs probably think we are nuts for putting a tree up in our living room and inviting a crowd of people over to look at it. All kidding aside, keeping a high value reward handy for these times of mild stress can be super helpful to create positive associates with these "new" distractions. Check out the post on Helping Fearful Dogs with DS/CC to learn more about desensitization & counter conditioning.

If you've worked with a dog trainer or Canine Coach previously, you've probably heard about training FOR the moment not IN the moment, meaning train skills before you actually need them. But you were busy prepping for the holiday and totally forgot to include your dog in the planning stages. Now the holidays are upon us and you need to teach a certain skill such as mat/station training right now! But you don't have much time to do it. Pairing that training that your forgot or have not practiced in a really long time with a high value reward can help your dog learn really quick. While you can't expect miracles such as your dog going from dragging you down the sidewalk to a perfect heel in just a day, you can teach your dog to lay calmly by your feet while you eat dinner if you have something tasty to reinforce with. Since most people do not want to feed their dog from the table, having a homemade dog treat can be a great alternative! This way you can be sure your pup is eating only dog safe ingredients that smell and taste like people food. The best thing about that is you can make these treats up a few days in advance and have them at the ready when everyone sits down to the table.

Another great way to use holiday treats is to help your dog eat meals while you are traveling. We all have made a trip with our dogs and realized after we got there that they were either too nervous or too distracted to eat their meals at the normal time. While this bothers some dogs more than others, no one wants to spend the holidays worrying about when/if their dog will eat in a new environment. If we have not planned for this, we can scramble to find a human food that our dog WILL eat no matter what. This often leads to running through a drive thru for a cheeseburger or something to get the dog their favorite snack or worse, giving our dogs something unhealthy that might upset their stomach. Preparing some homemade treats with a few simple ingredients can be just the trick to ensure your dog can eat healthy when you are in a new/unusual environment. Check out the Holiday Cookbook above some great dinner recipes that can be put on a lickmat and frozen for meals on the go as well.

The pictures in this blog show Azul eating some holiday treasures using a few enrichment based toys to help use up some mental energy during a bad weather day. He has a puzzle toy that spins to reveal the treats and some things from my recycling stacked together to give Azul a chance to sniff out the treats. I have a recycled drink carrier from a fast food place, lids from disposable coffee cups, and plastic solo cups that all stacked together with various healthy snacks hidden around the items.


Take note of the blanket in this picture! This is the homemade Christmas present I made for Azul this year. He is always loving my blanket with the knot fringes and often steals it when we go out of town. This year I decided to make him this mat/blanket that is just his size making it small enough to carry with us. I gave it to him early because he doesn't tend to like things that smell "new" and I wanted him to be used to this mat before we take it out of town for the holidays.

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