Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Medical Alert Task Workgroup

I am hosting a new Virtual Workgroup for Service Dog handlers looking to train the tasks that go along with Medical Alert & Response! 

We will be focusing on these issues:
Migraine Alerts
Cardiac Alerts
Diabetic Alerts

This workgroup will meet every other week via Zoom and have access to support inside my +R SD Task group.  Zoom meetings will take place on Monday nights beginning January 10th at 8pm (Central Time)

I'm looking for Beta Group Members to help me develop this virtual resource, which means right now this workgroup will be very reasonably priced at a 1 time fee of $75 which covers access to the +R SD Task, all the Zoom meetings, and 1-on-1 support as needed either virtually or in-person where available.  

The Medical Alerts Task Workgroup will run for 12 weeks starting January 10th so register by sending an email to yooperpaws@gmail.com.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Teaching a Hand Delivered Retrieve

Using Tug to Teach Retrieve

I find it much easier to teach a puppy to retrieve than an older dog, but I’ve also taught older dogs to retrieve objects.  With puppies, I start by teaching them to love a game of tug by making their toys come to life.  Once the dog loves to play tug, I develop a 2 toy game where you switch rapidly back and forth between toys.  I will play tug for a few seconds then when the pup drops the toy automatically, I’ll toss the toy a few feet away.  Most often the pup will grab the toy, at which point I present the other toy making it more fun which gets the puppy coming back to me and dropping the first tug somewhere along the way.  I will play this game a few days in a row before I work toward getting the pup to bring the tug all the way back to me, dropping it near me then eventually dropping it in my hand.  During this game, I’m not using any cues for Get It, Drop, Bring It…only happy, engaging words.

Here is a video compilation showing how I move away from tug towards other objects to keep playing the retrieve game. 

I like to start with an empty bottle because it’s part of my socialization items list and it’s something that I will eventually teach my Service Dog to retrieve on a regular basis.  I will then play toss and tug the bottle.  After just a few sessions, my puppy is typically bringing the bottle right back to me.  But there are few things you can do if your puppy is not returning to you.  To build up more speed try tossing the bottle just a foot away from you so you can pretend to beat the puppy to the bottle.  To get the hand delivered retrieve try waiting with the second toy, presenting it right as your puppy gets back to you and placing your other hand under to catch the bottle that is being dropped.  To build distance try tossing the item a little further each time.

Once I’m getting several successful bottle retrieves in each session, I will start switching to other objects.  I’ve found a small box, such as a travel size toothpaste box, is easy for a puppy to grab and they tend to think it’s just another toy.  I’ll also try an empty medicine bottle or small bowl which is my trick for teaching an older dog how to retrieve.  At that point I will start using some common items such as my keys that have something non-metal on them, phone, glove, etc.

Want to learn more about how I trained Azul to do his Service Dog Tasks?

Check out my +R SD Tasks Group.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Positively Puppy Socialization

 The first week you have your new puppy home can be exhausting!  Here is a short part of my Socialization Lessons available inside the Positively Puppy Paws Virtual Training.

Socialization in your household.

Socializing your puppy to your household is a step many people forget about.  This is my general outline for how I go about household socialization with a new puppy.

Day 1- Letting your puppy get used to you.  This is commonly “travel home” day which is often filled with new experiences such as the car ride.  So let puppy relax and get accustomed to you and the people in your house 

Day 2- Getting your puppy comfortable in their general puppy safe environment.  I pick one room of the house, typically a laundry room or kitchen without carpet for easy clean up.  This becomes the pup's safe spot; naps, meals, games all happen here.  If you don’t have one room of the house you can use for this, an X-pen set up in a family will work too.

Day 3- Letting your puppy see and spend short periods, well supervised, in other parts of the house.  At first, just carry the pup with you through the house.  If you are using a backpack or stroller for outdoor socialization, start using it at home today.  All houses and families are different, so if your house is on the quiet side you may be able to disengage from the pup while they take a cat nap on a blanket but if your house is on the busier side you simply want to put them in a stroller or x-pen so they are not interacting with the environment for another day or two.  You need to be especially cautious with this if there are other pets in the home.  (See introducing your puppy to other animals.)

Day 4-  Letting your puppy explore the house one room at a time.  Eventually, as the puppy grows up, I want them to be able to be calm in any room I’m in so today I start to set the tone for that.  Make use of baby gates and other barriers to block the puppy in one room of the house with you.  For example, you need to make sure you are eating while dealing with an exhausting puppy so take the puppy to the kitchen to make a snack.  The barriers help ensure your pup isn’t going to wander off but also helps to prevent other family pets from interacting with the pup while you are distracted with a snack.  FYI- make sure your puppy goes potty before gaining temporary access to this new room.  I will typically take a blanket and a few toys with me while exploring a new room to give pup something that is familiar to them.  And make sure you make the room puppy safe before you let the puppy start exploring.  Throughout the day and maybe some of the next day, do this activity with every room of the house.

Day 5-  Making the pup’s world a bit bigger.  If there is a person that lives elsewhere that will be a “puppy sitter” or have a regular presence in the pup’s life, today is a good day to meet them.  We might go for a “walk” mostly carrying the pup or placing it in a stroller around our neighborhood.  Or we might simply take a 5-10 car ride without any real destination in mind.  Remember socialization is about making experiences, so you don’t have to interact with anyone or anything in these environments, simply being present in the environments will help socialize the puppy.

After this I will pretty much start checking off boxes on my Socialization Checklist trying to hit 3-5 new or novel items on the list each day. Commonly I’ll try to check off items that affect each one of the senses each day.  For example, a car ride might expose people to sounds of traffic, smells of restaurants if go thru a drive thru, seeing people walk through a parking lot, feeling the vibration of the car driving at different speeds, and of course tasting wonder treats along the way to make sure that riding the car is a wonderful experience.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Special Christmas Treats

 Safe special treats for the Holidays

This is not meant to replace the advice of a Veterinarian, please ask any questions specific to your dog's diet to a trusted medical professional!  This post is filled with general information about what is nutritionally safe to use for doggie treats and what common holiday foods should be avoided.

There are quite a few human foods to avoid feeding to your dog but there are some yummy staples of a Christmas dinner that your dog can safely eat in moderation.
Your dog can enjoy small amounts of boneless, skinless white meat.  Most other meats are OK for dogs as well as long as there is not a bunch of seasoning or spices in it.  Use ham or other processed meat very sparingly as it is high in salt!  Ground beef, shredded chicken, salmon are some of my dogs favorites.

A tasty festive treat but make sure you only feed your dog plain mashed or boiled potatoes with nothing else added (e.g. salt, butter). Moderation is important. Potatoes, no matter how they are prepared or cooked are very starchy, which dogs can struggle to digest.  Sweet potatoes are also a great option and can easily be baked right in the peel for a delicious treat without added seasoning.

Take it easy with veggies but you can feed your dog some carrot, parsnip, green beans, brussel sprouts, broccoli florets (very small amount only), peas, spinach, cauliflower etc... Most green or mixed veg is fine for dogs. Avoid corn on the cob and bulb vegetables such as onions and leeks.

We like to start Christmas off with a breakfast buffet of sorts that changes from year to year. As a treat you can cook your dog an egg too. Eggs are a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals and are good for our dog’s health. If you are worried about the salmonella risk of feeding raw eggs, cook them. Scrambled is a great way to cook eggs for your dog, but don’t add milk, butter or salt of course. 

Can be high in sugar and can also be acidic, which can upset your dog's digestion so give in moderation and remove the pips/stones first. The fruit to avoid is rhubarb. The stalk of the plant and also its leaves are toxic to canines.  Some dogs really love blueberries, apple chunks, and bananas.

These items are dangerous for your dog!

Bird bones
They are hollow and whether raw or cooked they can easily splinter, making them a dangerous puncture or choking hazard.

Turkey or chicken skin
This is far too fatty for your dog. Fat can cause inflammation of the pancreas (Pancreatitis).

Very tasty but too salty and fatty for dogs. They will enjoy their turkey dinner just as much without gravy. It is best avoided.

Onions, garlic and other bulb vegetables (e.g. chives, leeks, shallots)
Onions are a definite no as they are poisonous to dogs. This includes any variant such as onion powder. Also avoid feeding your dog other bulb vegetables e.g. chives, leeks and shallots. Garlic is a contentious issue and while a little bit of garlic is not toxic to your dog it can have a dangerous cumulative effect.

A mixture of breadcrumbs with onions, spices and herbs. Therefore best avoided (see above).  Dogs are not used to eating herbs and spicy foods and stomach upsets may result

Grapes, raisins, currants, sultanas
These are fatal to dogs, even in small amounts. Seek veterinary help immediately if your dog eats these foods. Some dogs can cope with eating a few but many cannot and you have no idea which way your dog may react so don’t risk it at all.

Mince pies, Christmas pudding and fruit cake
Apart from being full of dangerous fat, these festive treats contain dried fruits (such as raisins, see above), spices and sometimes alcohol.

A festive favorite for many of us but both the fruit and the stone of the avocado contain a chemical that is dangerous to dogs.

So tasty but a big danger to dogs. It contains Theobromine which can be deadly to canines, even in small amounts. Keep it well out of their reach at all times.

Yeast and uncooked dough
It rises and ferments in the stomach. Not only painful but can be fatal. Keep yeast and dough safely away from your dog when doing your Christmas baking.

Human deserts and sweets
These are way too sugary or if they are sugar-free they contain artificial sweeteners. The sweetener Xylitol is very dangerous to dogs and sugar is bad for your dog’s waistline and teeth.

Macadamia nuts and walnuts are toxic to dogs and salted peanuts of course won’t do your dog any favours. Other nuts such as cashew nuts, pistachios and almonds are OK in small quantities but may be hard to digest and may cause stomach upsets.

Fruit pips and stones
Dogs love fruit but only in moderation and be sure to remove all pips and stones first. Many fruit stones and pips (e.g. apple, cherry, peach, pear, plum, and apricot) contain cyanide, which is poisonous. But actually the danger of intestinal blockage is why this is on our list, which probably poses the greater risk.

Milk and dairy products
Take it easy when it comes to giving your dog any milk and dairy products. Dogs have difficulty digesting lactose so upset stomachs can result.

Other dog Christmas food tips

  • No booze or caffeine – clear cups and glasses away and put all coffee and alcohol out of reach of your dog.
  • Keep pets out of the busy kitchen to prevent accidents.
  • Don’t over feed your dog – with dog food/treats or with human food/treats.
  • Dispose carefully of wrappers, human food and especially bones.
  • Take the rubbish out and whether the rubbish bags are inside or out secure them so they can’t be broken into. Dispose of leftovers, especially the bird carcass, carefully.
  • Ask all visitors not to feed your pet anything. It is easier than trying to get everyone to follow the food rules above and if everyone gives your pet tit bits it will soon add up to a lot of extra food.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

New Service Dog Services will be Available in January!


I am developing a new Virtual Workgroup for helping Service Dog handlers train the tasks that go along with Medical Alert & Response!  This service will be available in January 2022!

We will be focusing on these issues:
  • Migraine Alerts
  • Cardiac Alerts
  • Diabetic Alerts
This workgroup will be based inside my +R SD Task group, so workgroup members would have automatic access to this Facebook Group with lifetime access to information on training several key Service Dog tasks.  

The work group would meet every 2 weeks with a virtual Zoom meeting for a minimum of 3 months, with the potential for more virtual meetings if needed.  

I'm looking for Beta Group Members to help me develop this virtual resource, which means right now this workgroup will be very reasonably priced at a 1 time fee of $75 which covers access to the +R SD Task, all the Zoom meetings, and 1-on-1 support as needed either virtually or in-person.  

This workgroup will be starting in January 2022 so anyone interested should contact me ASAP.  I will be screening all interested participants because I'm searching for people that are dedicated to teaching with force free, aversive free methods, who have dogs that are already at an advanced training level.  If you are interested, contact me ASAP!

Text: 906-399-0548
Email:  yooperpaws@gmail.com
Or find me on Facebook

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.


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


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.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Management Techniques to Survive the Holidays

Simple steps to take before the Holidays begin.

Management is very important as most undesirable behaviors happen when our dogs are at a heightened emotional state; either too scared or too excited. There are many new sights, smells, and routine changes at Christmas that can easily overwhelm a dog that is used to a quiet house. Added company or traveling can easily over-excite your social dog as well. So here are a few management tips that can be extremely helpful.

  1. Watch your dog's emotional state closely. If they start to be overwhelmed or overexcited, both of which look very similar, take some time out of the hustle and bustle to do one of your dog's favorite activities. Doing something together can really help bring your dog back down to a more neutral emotional state.
  2. Before the craziness begins, work with your dog to see what helps them calm down the fastest. A sniff-a-bout in a low distraction environment can meet your dog's needs for exercise, bonding time, and potty needs all at the same time. But this can also overstimulate a dog if they are not used to this type of walk. The same goes for belly rubs as they can be calming or add to the stimulation. Learn what works best before your dog and practice it before your company arrives or before you head out to your party location.
  3. Contact friends and family that will be interacting with your dog beforehand to explain the "rules" you want them to follow with your dog. Examples: When you come in, ignore the dog until they have settled down a bit and wait for me to give permission to greet or play. We aiming for maintaining calmness so do X, Y, & Z with our pup, but avoid doing these things which make our pup more hyper. It's also best to discuss your plan with anyone that you plan to go visit with your pup joining in the fun.
  4. Use a leash during introductions (unless your dog is leash reactive!) which can help you maintain calmness or remove the dog more quickly if they become overexcited. This also helps you to prevent your dog from jumping on family members that might not be able to hand an excitable pup. Also make use of baby gates to create distance between your dog and people or pets when you are too distracted with other things to remind your dog that house manners apply even around our friends.
  5. Prepare your dog's meals ahead of time to make it quick and easy. You can place a kibble servicing in Ziplock baggies to make it easy to feed as training rewards or drop into your snuffle box or bowl at feeding time more quickly. If you use licky mats, kongs, or other food delivery resources, stuff them & freeze them a few days before your holiday plans so you can pull them out when you need your dog to relax by themselves. Don't stress out if your dog doesn't eat as much as normal during the holidays! Travel and schedule changes can often make a dog eat less and you never know if Uncle Joe, Aunt Betty, or whoever is slipping your pup some people treats. If your dog is on a special diet, make sure to let everyone know what they should or should not feed your dog. Sometimes it's easier to ask everyone else NOT to feed your pup, but even that is still not always happening unless you're hyper vigilant about watching people. I tend to let my dog have a few more puppy safe human foods during the holidays, but that can be very hard to track if everyone is slipping them food.

Friday, November 26, 2021

The 12 Dog Days of Christmas

At Yooper Paws of Love we like to slowly move into the Holiday Spirit by adding a few new holiday decorations each day.  We also like to have some fun including our pets in our holiday plans which is why we created the 12 Dog Days of Christmas!  And we invite all our friends to join in this fun Christmas Dog Training 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:
The daily challenge will be posted at http://www.yooperpaws.com/ and on our Facebook Page.  You can participate by adding your photos on the FB page or email them to yooperpaws@gmail.com.  
As you have fun playing with your dog, getting them to do the 12 Dog Days of Training, take pictures and post them to our Facebook page or email them directly to yooperpaws@gmail.com.
And here is the best part...participation is 100% FREE and should be fun for you and your dogs!
Day 1 starts on December 14th.   You can follow or subscribe to the Yooper Paws blog to have the daily theme sent directly to your email box.  And I will also be posting the info each day on the Facebook page so if you LIKE that page, the daily post should show up in your news feed. 
Most of the activities are simple things that are covered in basic obedience. But even if you have never trained the dog to do anything, you can still participate! (And yes, for my friends with cats or other animals...you can play along too as long as you can get your animal to do the activities!)
This is something that your going to want to share with all of your dog loving friends and family.  The easiest way to that is to share this blog post with them!  But you can also share the links above to our website or Facebook page.
There is no need to register or RSVP, but you can definitely leave a comment here to let me know you're interested!  I hope you plan to share in the fun!
If you want to read the daily challenges ahead of time, they can be found in this calendar.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Black Friday Break


With the busy Thanksgiving weekend with family, Black Friday Shopping, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday we are all probably feeling just a bit overwhelmed!  Holidays take a lot out of us and our pets!  

But I'm inviting you to give yourself a break!

Grab a comfy seat!
Snuggle with your pup!
And join me for a short Zoom Meeting for a chance to unwind!

No this is not a sales pitch!

But I do have some cool things to share with you!  You can be the first to know what I'm planning to do for Christmas and how you can join in the fun for FREE!  Let's face it, there is not much about Christmas that is free.  But I have a holiday plan for involving your pups with setting the mood and getting you into the holiday spirit!

I will show off something that I'm thankful that I have!

I will take just a brief moment to talk about the paracord hands-free leashes that I make.  But this isn't going to be a sales pitch!  I just want to show off the versatility that can be offered and how this can be customized to fit anyone's needs.  If you are lucky enough to be one of the few people who have one of my leashes already and you bring it to the Zoom meeting, I have something special in store for you! 

If you don't have one of my leashes, but have a favorite leash that you love you should bring it too!

Of course the wonderful and loveable Azul will be there!

I wish I could send you a sample of his dog hair!  I sure have enough to share.  But I can't do that.  Instead I will have a stash of his favorite treats and I will demo any of his awesome behaviors and tricks that you want to see.

Come to relax and ready for fun!

PJ's, Holiday attire, any clothing your comfortable in is acceptable!  Please just wear clothing!  😅
Bring your favorite snack or some leftover pie!
You can even bring a glass of wine if that's your preference!
This is a no frills, come hang out with me and Azul to take a break from your busy holiday weekend!

Yooper Paws of Love is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Black Friday Break
Time: Nov 26, 2021 09:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Notice the time change from 2:00 PM to 9:00 PM Today!

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 861 8022 7831
Passcode: YPofLove

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Pay What You Can Special


I am now offering something very unique I feel in our sector - when it comes to my 1-on-1 real life training days I no longer have a set pricing structure.
The training days will be based in Iron Mountain or Norway and I will be working with you and your dog on whatever you want to train - as long as I feel it is safe to do so.
Training will take place in real life contexts out and about - we will go to parks, road walk, shops, cafes, and more.
I think recently the dog training world is in a bit of a crisis, combined with the after effects of lockdown has made getting help with training sometimes inaccessible for some.
As part of the package if you are comfortable I can also film and edit a video for social media to celebrate your achievements and for you to show friends and family your training adventures!
🌟 There is NO set price.
Pay what you think it’s worth or Pay what you can afford.

The catch:

--The day is AT LEAST 3 hours long. These days are designed for the most committed of dog owners that want to be thrown head first into the deep end and be pushed to really help them reach their dog's potential.
--It is the owners responsibility to make arrangements for a safe decompression zone if required so if your dog needs a break they can, but I can still help you whilst they grab some zzz 💤 .
--I do ask for a $20 non refundable deposit to “hold” that particular day/time.
--You need to be 100% committed to never using aversive training tools or methods.
Find out more about my training style on my Facebook Page
🔥Think it sounds awesome? 🔥
Pm the page! I’ll get you set up 🙂
(Thanks Ruby for this great idea! I hope I can help at least a few people with this offer!)

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...