Monday, December 11, 2023

Canine Christmas List

December Theme of the Month
Things to Do With Your Dog in December

We all tend to get busy during the holidays and sometimes that means we leave our dogs out. I want to encourage all our Yooper Paws friends to think about ways to include their dog in the holiday season.  Here is a list of ideas to get you started!

  1. Review Holiday Things that Safe/Harmful for Dogs
  2. Letter to Santa Paws
  3. Tree Lighting Ceremony
  4. Create a Homemade Gift for your Dog
  5. Puppy Playdate with a Friend (Azul played with Maverick 2 days last week!) 
  6. String Dog Bone Treats for a Christmas Countdown (I guess I missed this one.)
  7. Make a Puppy Christmas Card
  8. Sing Christmas Carols to Your Dog (We do this every day in the car together!)
  9. Make Holiday Dog Treats
  10. Christmas Lights Drive/Sniff-a-bout
  11. Start a New Holiday Tradition
  12. Make a Puppy Ornament
  13. Share a Treat By the Fire
  14. Donate a Dog Toy
  15. Walk with a Friend 
  16. Watch a Holiday Movie - Belle and I do this every day together! 
  17. Hang a Paw Print Decoration on Your Door
  18. Hang a Stocking for your Dog Stockings are hung both at work and at home!
  19. Pause and Reflect About the Past Year With Your Dog
  20. Dance with Your Dog
  21. Read a Book to Your Dog
  22. Play in the Snow
  23. Dress Up Together
  24. Have a Gift Exchange with Another Dog Owner
  25. Donate Dog Food
  26. Wrap a Present For Your Dog 
  27. Make Cookies for Santa Paws
  28. Take Photo in Front of the Christmas Tree (Azul in front of a blue tree at Menards.)
  29. Make a Training List/Plan 
  30. Prepare Treat Bags for Puppy Friends 

Throughout the month, there were will be additional posts on as many of these items as we can get to with directions on how to do these things with your dog. BOLD means we've done it and pictures will be posted if we were able to take some.

Please be smart and do all the things you and your dog can have fun doing together as a team!
It's important that you consider your dog's individual needs when you look at this list! If your dog doesn't like to dress up, skip list items that suggest that or keep it really simple like a new holiday collar. If your dog doesn't like crowds, you wouldn't take them to a Christmas tree lighting or parade.

If you want to share pictures of your activities with your dogs, email them to yooperpaws@gmail.com or send them to via messenger and I will post them on the Yooper Paws Facebook page and possibly even include them in a blog on that list item.

Have fun & Merry Christmas!

Announcing Adora Belle

Meet Little Miss Adora "Belle" Chaos!

Belle joined our family last week at 8 wks old. She is a German Shepherd/Lab mix. So far she is super sweet with just a little bit of sassy and she's learning very quickly! At first I thought she was going to struggle with potty training because she was so cold outside and scared. But she's learned to go fast and run back to the door to get inside. 

Adora Belle will be useful as a Demo Dog at the Yooper Paws Training Center. She is working on puppy socialization experiences and basic skills now. Soon she will be working on Therapy Dog skills and volunteering at the library with Azul when she is ready. Then if she continues to show that she is well suited, Belle will be trained in some of Azul's Service Dog tasks, alternating who is "on duty" so that both dogs get plenty of time off to do doggy behaviors. If Belle decides she doesn't like going out and about, then she can still have the best of lives as a family dog.
Azul and Belle are learning how to share my time and be near each other right now. Belle is so small that I think Azul is worried about hurting her. And previous puppies he has played with have been obnoxious land sharks which Azul won't put up with. I'm sure it won't take long for them to find their way to becoming good puppy friends. Right now I'm just happy that they can be in the same room together.

Things Belle has learned in her first week.
Paws up on my legs is how she tells me to pick her up. This used to be her cue that she was done going potty and wanted to warm up. But now she's learned to run to the door when she's done. We have 2 small steps in the front door which she can now navigate. Then she sits by the door waiting for me to take shoes off and unclip her leash. (She waits about 15 seconds or less!) Then she races up 3 more stairs and into the living room to see what she's missing and wait for me to catch up.

Belle learned to sit right away! I lured the behavior about 3 times and she started offering it a lot. Now she sits as I refill her food & water, while I unlock her crate door, and while I unclip her leash. Each time she earns reinforcement so she keeps doing it. Sit has become a default behavior that she offers whenever she doesn't know what to do!

She can jump/climb out of the crate (2 inch bar), the playpen (4 inch bar), the steps coming in (again about 4 inches), the step station at the office, and her small cot/bed at home. I'm trying to keep this at under 6 inch objects but a few times with a running start she's made on the couch!

She knows the hand signal for down and is starting to learn the verbal cue. Although we are only doing this behavior in training sessions. I haven't applied it to any specific reasons for the behavior yet. Although I did start teaching Belle to go under my legs for a tuck position.

She's really good at squatting the moment I say the potty cue! In the small car crate she barks when she needs to go and is able to hold it until I pull over and take her out. In the office she runs to her potty station when she needs to go. I'm ok with this for now because if I'm with a client, I may not be able to stop immediately and take her out. Plus it's more windy there so some days she simply won't stay outside long enough to go. The artificial turf potty station is good practice in case she has to go at an airport relief station as a service dog. Many dogs find the artificial grass too odd and refuse to go, then need to go too bad to hold it for a whole flight. At home she's had 2 accidents that were not on a puppy pad in her crate while I slept. She likes the puppy pad the first few nights, but now that she's learned how to wake me up to go out, she's not using the pads anymore. That's a big win for me because I hate puppy pads!

Belle has also learned to do hand targets with and without a  food lure which is nice for getting her to move where I want her to be. She's tried to bop me nose to nose a few times, which I turned away and didn't reinforce and she hasn't tried it again the last few days. 

Belle is all about the reinforcement! Food, belly rubs, ear rubs...any kind of physical touch and happy voice. She's getting used to 3 different crates, 2 playpens (attached to crates) and a backpack. So far she's been in ACE hardware to get keys made and to the groomers to help with Maverick's bath. And yes, she's met and played with Azul's best friend Maverick. Plus she watched Blue, Cowboy, and Oy from a safe distance. Belle has also stayed with 3 puppy sitters this week!

Needless to say, it's been a busy week for Little Miss Adora Belle Chaos. If you're following any of our social media accounts you've probably seen lots of video and pictures already! If you're not following us, here is a video of Belle doing puppy push ups about mid-week: https://youtu.be/-mcP9AWx8gQ

Stay tuned for the amazing adventures of Azul: My Little Boy Blue & Little Miss Adora Belle Chaos.

Adding More Enrichment

As dog owners, we use reinforcement to reward our dogs for the behaviors we like. Enrichment is often confused as being an extra great or j...