Monday, December 26, 2022

Highlights from Azul's 2022

Azul has had a busy 2022!

There is no way we could list everything we've experienced and accomplished this year, but I want to touch base on some of the highlights. While it's been a slow "training" year, this year has been a huge applied life year for us. Azul turned 2 last spring so we mainly worked on applying all the training we had done the first 2 years to real life situations.

Nailing down Azul's role as a Service Dog (SD) is probably the biggest of all highlights. We had done a ton of prep work to train foundations of SD tasks prior to 2 yrs old, but this was the year we really pulled it all together. Using a SD in day-to-day activities relies on more than simply training skills, but becomes a "dance" of teamwork and figuring out what works best for both human and dog. We've spent this year figuring out what that means to us a Service Dog Team. For anyone new to our story, Azul does medical alert and light mobility tasks that help me with my disability. These tasks are individualized to us a team based on things Azul loves do that directly impact my disability. Here is a list and brief explanation of the tasks we've developed as a team:
  • Forward Momentum Pull (FM) - Azul leans into a leash or short handle attached to a harness to help me walk on rough terrain such as climbing hills to enjoy the hikes we both love so much. While hiking is our favorite way to enjoy this teamwork, we also use this to accomplish day to day chores such as grocery shopping, getting the mail, and having the energy to meet with our dog training clients. 
  • Counterbalance -  This applies to 2 main needs for balance assistance for me, vertigo/dizzy spells & slippery or multi-level surfaces. To do this task, Azul will brace into a stronger stand if I pull up on his soft handle. (I never push down on my dog for bracing as this is very hard on a dog's body.) If I'm having a brief vertigo issue, I slightly tip in one direction and Azul lightly leans the opposite direction. If we are hiking in a rough environment with lots of things to step over, hills to go down, or on slippery rocks/surfaces, Azul will walk slowly at my side taking one step at a time while I hold that same soft handle. 
  • Medical Alerts - Azul does 3 main medical alerts for me. Migraine Alerts were his first and most valuable alert in 2022. (I'm happy to report that towards the end of 2022, my migraines are growing less frequent and therefore this is dropping off as our #1 task. YAY!) Azul will run his nose up and down my leg when he feels the need to check my status and if the migraine is about to hit or about to get substantially worse, he will do a nose nudge on my leg to tell me to take meds ASAP. This medical alert often happens 40-45 minutes before I have any sign or symptom of a need to take meds. The other reason this is extremely helpful is that I get a wide range of headaches & migraines so sometimes I might feel like a migraine is about to build then 30 min later it goes away and Azul doesn't alert in these situations. Since I don't want to live on meds 24/7, I've learned to trust Azul's nose and wait for his alert to take my meds. Azul also alerts to extreme inflammation that can strike me at any time. This is part of my autoimmune issue where any random body part can suddenly start to swell up as if it was injured. Azul will lick that area to alert the need for help. He has never enjoyed licking me since he was a puppy, but he started this behavior when I started playing with scent training for this medical issue. I was playing with this because I don't know of any other dog trained to do this type of alert and I wasn't sure if there was a scent involved or not. When Azul starts licking, I know to take my NSAID and start with ice/heat rotation to reduce the amount of swelling that takes place. And the last medical alert Azul does is an extreme vertigo/dizziness alert for when I've been pushing to hard to get something done and need to sit down before I fall down. It's totally normal at any part of day to have a moment of vertigo, but if these moments are coming frequently which causes lots of off balance pressure on the soft handle Azul wears, he will place his paw on my foot to alert the need to stop and sit down. Thankfully I don't struggle with this every day, but it tends to run in streaks where it will happen multiple times a day for several days before it goes away for a few weeks. All 3 of these alerts are life saving in their own way, allowing Azul and I do accomplish more as a team and allowing us to have more fun together having adventures.
  • Retrieve Tasks - Azul learned at a very young age to pick up miscellaneous items and place them in my hand. Most often Azul is retrieving my meds, water bottle, phone, keys, and winter gloves. Azul will retrieve pretty much anything that I drop on cue. This is a cued task because I don't want him picking up things that may be dangerous such as medicine, a dropped knife, or other hazards. We have fun with this task sometimes entertaining ourselves and sometimes entertaining the public around us. I totally accidently dropped a box of bacon in the grocery store once and Azul carried it from the back of the store up to the check out much to the laughs of everyone around us. I've also handed Azul tip money before to hand over to the person who had earned it. Azul also loves to greet UPS drivers on the back porch and then carry the package into Dad. If Azul is not there, they always leave a treat for him on the package.
There are a few other tasks Azul can do, but these are the most frequently used tasks that we use every day in some fashion. We've also dropped a few tasks that would be very helpful for me, however Azul didn't really enjoy them. I don't ever want his job to require Azul to do something he doesn't enjoy! My last SD did DPT on my neck during migraines and Azul overheats doing this. While a dog's heat & pressure helps more then my heating pad, I'll stick to my heating pad instead of making Azul uncomfortable. (TEAMWORK is everything to us!) 

We might develop some of our tasks in greater detail in 2023, but I'm pretty happy with where we are at with SD tasks at this time. 

Amazing Adventures

Thanks to our teamwork, we've been able to participate in some pretty incredible adventures in 2022 including hiking to some gorgeous waterfalls, travels to see family members, and some big SD moments. Every since I was a child, I loved rock climbing and going in search of waterfalls. Now with my balance and fatigue issues, this would be impossible without the help of Azul along the way. Thankfully the environment we live in has lots of amazing nature that surrounds us. Most generally we stick to the local splendor that we love unless we have friends or family to go out and explore with. If you've followed our story, you've surely seen pictures of many of the lakes and trails we walk regularly; Strawberry Lake, Myr Trail, Smalley & Longslide Falls, etc. Unfortunately, we haven't spent nearly as much time as we'd like in most of these "regular" spots having only visited each spot a few times this year. Little Fumee Lake is one of our favorites, but is a 2 mile loop so we only made it out 3 times this year. We have been able to explore with a few others this year so here are a few highlights.

Lake Michigan from the boardwalk in Manistique.

A small boat launch near the top of the Quinessec Hydroelectric Plant.

Strawberry Lake 1 Mile Paved Loop

Memorial Day Adventures with my kids & grandkids.


Hiking with Jen & Betsy

Camping & Canoeing with Extended Family Members



Fall Hiking with my kids & grandkids.

Piers Gorge Adventure with Family

Lake Superior Sunrise Walk

Adventures in Illinois 

Service Dog Highlights in LOL

Many of these things were recorded in previous blogs so here are a few links:

Therapy Dog Highlights

Additional Training

We've really spent the year fine tuning leash manners in outdoor environments and building up to more exciting environments and working around other dogs.  This is going to be a work in progress that we will be looking at more in 2023. 

We have also worked on formal recall training in 2022. Before Azul turned 2 yrs old, we worked mainly on fun recalls used in play and training. But this year we added in some station training to help define the place to stay and build in the release to come back to me in a more formal recall. I didn't want to teach this to puppy Azul because I wanted to wait until he had the self control to take on this challenging topic. 

I have some other great training videos and things that I haven't had a chance to write up yet, but hopefully I will get a few more of those done over the next few days before we celebrate New Year's Eve! Stay tuned to see all the great things we have planned for 2023!


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,

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


  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


  • 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 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.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Reading to Your Dog


Azul Loves to Read!

OK, so dog's can't read, but they can enjoy hearing people read and there is great value for both the dog and the human. I could go on and on about the human animal bond and how strong connections with positive associations can increase health and happiness for both the human and the dog. But instead I want to take a moment to talk about the Bow Wows & Books program at our local library.

Once a month Therapy Dogs show up at the library to listen to kids read stories. Reading out loud can be very stressful for kids (and many adults) but can be a super important life skill. Students are often asked to read in front of classmates which can be scary and cause mistakes. Reading to a non-judgmental dog can be calming and create positive associations for the child which helps them build confidence. This can improve the child's oral reading skills helping them to become a better student.

This program isn't all able the children who sign up to read. The dogs benefit from the program too! Therapy Dogs are always very social dogs and find human interaction enjoyable. But often Therapy Dogs participate in activities that are less then relaxing. Some Therapy Dogs work in an office or school environment where emotions or stress might be extreme at times. Some Therapy Dogs work in hospital or nursing home settings where health issues in clients can be challenging. In essence, Therapy Dogs do jobs that are designed to comfort humans and bring them happiness, which isn't always easy for the dogs. Azul being a Service Dog, sometimes has a stressful job to do taking care of me. But the reading program helps the dogs to bring cheer in a relaxing environment where they can be a bit silly, inviting belly rubs, giving chin rests, and spreading cheer in their own ways. 

Another way that reading to dogs is beneficial to both human and dog is the act of listening. We tend to tell our dogs what to do quite a bit during the day. We talk to our dogs quite a bit when we are feeling stressed or trying to figure something out. Our dogs all hear other people talking throughout the day. But there is something different that comes out in the voice when we read something we love. Some kids choose books that have jokes, action heroes, or rhyming sentences and these make the kids smile and giggle as they read. That giggle and happiness relaxes the dogs and brings out their inner puppy. 

Adults can read too! I wonder just how many people practice giving a speech or teaching a class by doing so at home with their dog hanging out nearby. One of my Christmas activities to do with your dog is read a book and that is because it will be a great opportunity to share some time doing nothing and enjoying each other's company. So please pick up your favorite book, snuggle into a comfortable spot and instead of reading in your head read out loud to your dog. After 10-15 minutes check to see how you and your dog are feeling? Are you relaxed? Are you comfortable? Is your dog?

Therapy Dog Teams from the Bow Wows & Books Program
Team Diogee with Hannah
Team Azul with Penny

The Dickinson County Library hosts the Bow Wows & Books Program on the 2nd Wednesday of the Month from 5-6 PM at the Main Branch. Parents can call the library to schedule a time for their child.

We also have Therapy Dog Maverick who is now attending the Library's teen program, SHH...Out! This event is geared to supporting the LGBTQ community to help teens that might be struggling at other social events. There Maverick can play with the kids and provide a feeling of safety and comfort for teens in the library setting.

In January, I'm joining a day of activity where library staff from around the U.P. will be visiting Dickinson County Library to discuss programming opportunities.  Azul and I will be there presenting information about Therapy Dogs and how they can add this to library programming in other communities.  I'm excited about the possibilities that 2023 bring to the Therapy Dog teams and the youth of our community. We hope to be scheduling some activities at the Norway branch in the near future.

Team Azul, Team Diogee, & Team Maverick are all Certified Therapy Dogs with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. If you'd like to learn more about becoming a Therapy Dog Team, check out this website:  Then reach out to Yooper Paws for help getting ready for the Therapy Dog Test and Application Process.  We'd love to add more Therapy Dogs into the community.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Confident Canines Coaches Class

Yooper Paws of Love is pleased to be hosting our first class geared to Canine Coaches!

The Confident Canine Coaches Class is designed to teach Canine Coaches how to support dogs with confident building activities.

Canine Coaches are people who work as dog training professionals and owners training dogs at an advanced level. This is class is great for anyone who wants to learn to support their dog better with confidence building games and activities. Service Dog Handlers & Owner Trainers are welcome in this class.

This series has been created with force free training methods using games and teamwork to build up confidence & resiliency. Teachers will be Penny Beeman & Faith Weber from Yooper Paws of Love with Admin Assistance from Ashlynn Holt.

Topics Include:
Understanding the 5 Core Confidences
Establishing Routines
Developing Good Behaviors
Management Techniques

The 5 Canine Confidences

  • Distractions Confidence - the belief that changes in circumstances are acceptable and manageable.

  • Predictability Confidence -  the belief that things happen for a reason and their behavior can predict or dictate outcomes. 

  • Relationship/Team Confidence - the belief that together (dog/handler) they can handle the challenges in front of them.

  • Self Confidence - the belief that they can handle the challenges in front of them.

  • Safety Confidence - the belief or feeling that they will be safe, calm, and comfortable in regular day-to-day activities.

We will explore and develop these core canine confidences by playing games and doing exercises to help your dog become more confident. All activities are designed to guide each individual dog through some basic foundational skills that you would normally go through in a basic adult obedience class. However this class is designed to teach Coaches how to look at each dog's individual needs to set up training sessions that support that dog, both physically and emotionally.

The next class will begin in April 2023 with Early Bird registration available through March 31st. Service Dog Handlers and other Dog Owners seeking advanced training can participate in the class for $200. The cost for Canine Professionals seeking certification is $299 and will have additional homework assigned to evaluate skills.

There are 6 Topics released 1 per week for 6 weeks. There will be a weekly Zoom meeting scheduled to go over the information with a recording available within 48 hrs for anyone who can not participate.  Once the information is released, students have 1 year to complete the class, do the assignments and finish the final project in order to earn a certificate of completion. Canine professionals will also have an evaluation process in order to earn a Certificate in Creating Confident Canines.

During this class we will do a deep dive into the 5 Core Canine Confidences beginning with Safety and working our way up to distractions. Then in the final lesson, looking at how they all pull together to build a more resilient dog. Resilient dogs will then spend less time in recovery mode after encountering normal daily activities with a faster rebound speed due to the confidence gained with their owners.

Not only will we understand the 5 Core Canine Confidences but we will look at activities designed to build up each confidence. Each activity has a basic starting point and can be expanded as needed for each individual dog. Confidence building never ends, therefore most activities are designed to start at whatever point the human/dog team is at then making progress together as a team to build a bigger and stronger connection together.

While this class is designed to address the needs of pet dogs, materials can also be applied to service/assistance dog training. Canine Coaches who take this class will be able to apply the knowledge to pretty much any training that is offered increasing their ability to understand the whole dog in front of them.

Yooper Paws is committed to helping the students in this class to understand these confidences and how to apply them to the dog they are training. Our goal is to provide materials in a wide variety of ways to address the different learning preferences of each human. We also offer group support via text/messenger for 1 year after the start date of class. If private sessions become necessary, they will be offered at a discounted price to support anyone needing additional assistance.

Contact us at for more information.

Register in this Form, then an email will be sent to you with 48 hours as a confirmation. Payment details and class specifics will be sent out once the Spring 2023 class is scheduled.

You will receive an email within 48 hours after filling out this form. If you do not receive a welcome email with payment information, please reach out to for assistance.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Christmas Tree Lighting


We had plans to go to a Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Kingsford last week, but it was freezing cold and I had a migraine so those plans were cancelled. Then Friday we went out of town for the weekend. We did some late evening Christmas shopping Friday and enjoyed some great Christmas lights in the bigger towns surrounding my daughter's house. Azul & Forrest enjoyed looking out the windows.

The next night we saw some more lights on our way to an event that had both inside and outside activities that proved to be a bit overwhelming for Azul. Azul knew the reindeer at the event so that didn't bother him, but the goat was a new friend we gave a wide girth to. Inside was hard because just inside the door was a long line of kids with balloon animals. (Azul is fine with balloons, but kids with balloon animals are dangerous, often leading to frequent head bopping.) Then a hallway of flashing, strobing, multi-colored lights. Then the straw that broke Azul, was the crowded gym filled with people and kids with balloon animals. Ten feet in the door and Azul told me he was done. We waited in the hallway for Violet to get her cookies and then went back outside. Ten minutes later Azul tried to hide from more scary balloon animals so I let him spend the last 20 min chillin in the car.

I didn't think any size or type of crowd would overwhelm Azul but I was wrong. This goes to show that even Service Dogs are individuals with desires and preferences. While Azul does awesome at taking care of me, I never want to make him stay in an situation that is uncomfortable for him. With our strong relationship and trust in each other, we can sometimes push each other gently to step outside our comfort zone but we need to be careful not to take advantage of that and push too hard. While Azul did nothing wrong towards the crowd, he told me that he was uncomfortable at the event and that makes it my job as dog handler to help Azul find a way to get to a safer environment. If I didn't listen to his pleas to leave, he may have lashed out at me or someone in the environment. Azul has never done this, but any dog or human that is pushed too far out of their comfort zone can be forced to attach.

We stopped at a light display on the way home and let Azul do some decompression sniffs. While he sniffed, I got some great picts of the lights.

I would have liked to stay longer, but it was cold and my phone battery died so I couldn't take any new picts. It was a shame too because there was a cool sleigh in front of a Christmas Tree that was a great place for pictures. I took a few of the grandkids first, but then by the time I got Azul in the sleigh, my phone had turned off and my daughter had taken Forrest back to the warmth of the car.

By the time we got home, Azul was ready for dinner and bed! After warming up with some coffee and cookies, I was ready to join Azul as well.

The next morning we went out for breakfast at a packed restaurant. Azul was not happy walking out through a maze of people, but thankfully no balloon animals in sight.
After a run at the farm and a nap for Azul, we headed out to walk the Woodstock Square. Here we saw Santa and did photos with the grands. Azul mostly enjoyed the sniffs. He wanted to greet some dogs, but we gave them space and instead greeted some friendly people including Santa's elves. We ended with splashing in the mud puddle under the gazebo, then went to the car to warm up. Azul was happy to be headed home and even happier to be home.

Tips for Taking Your Dog to Community Events

It's important to remember that not all dogs enjoy going out into the community with us and even dogs who do love going out in the community, may not enjoy certain types of events. Our goal should be that our dog is enjoying the event as much as we are, or perhaps more than we are.

We are not going to discuss all the ins and outs of where your dog can and cannot go with you. Of course the rules are different for family pets and service dogs. In the situation above, Azul went as a Service Dog and we called ahead to get permission since this event was at a church. For the most part, these tips will be applicable to both pets attending pet friendly community events & Service Dogs attending non-pet friendly events.

The first thing to consider when trying to decide if you should take your dog to an event is what is their previous experiences?
  • Have they been to this event previously or events in this location?
  • How many people would be expected at the event?
  • Does your dog have the skills to safely navigate the event with you?
  • Can you leave the event or take your dog out to a safe space if they show signs of discomfort?
The location or environment the event is taking place in is very important to your dog's comfort. If they've never been in that location before they are going to need to do a ton more sniffing. Arriving early before the event starts and allowing your dog to walk around the area sniffing can really help. If that is not possible, walking around the outskirts of the event before moving in to participate in activities can be really helpful.

The amount of people in the area can also be huge. If you're attending an event that has 100 people in a space the is designed for 500 people is way different then an event that has 100 people in a space designed for 25. Your dog might love people, but most people don't enjoy being in a standing room only crowd and neither will most dogs. Also consider what people will be doing. If your dog doesn't like sudden movements, an event with dancing or lots of kids games might not be the best however a winter concert where most people are generally sitting/standing still might be ok. In the case above, I had no idea there would be balloon animals in the environment and this is only the second time Azul has shown any discomfort around them so I didn't anticipate the problem. This is why it's super important to be able to leave if your dog is uncomfortable. Azul has been conditioned to stay in the car for short periods of time and relax which allows me to use that as a safe space if he needs to escape.

The time we have spent developing teamwork with our dogs and training basic skills will have a huge impact at special events. Leash manners is always one of the first skills to consider! If your dog pulls you down the sidewalk most of the time, it stands to reason they will pull you all over the event too. If your dog generally walks nice but pulls towards other dogs, that might not be a deal breaker however you need to be able to redirect that back to you and be prepared to keep an eye out for other dogs. If you will be sitting down to watch an event such as a parade or concert, can your dog settle nicely at your side. How does your dog do when strangers walk passed you? Do you have time to pay attention to your dog's actions while they are settled beside you. Preparing for these outings by doing refresher training at home in the days leading up to the event can be helpful. Touch up your teamwork walking together with pace changes and u-turns. Practice a relaxed settle in the park around distractions days before the event. Or in my case, in the cold climate where outdoor activities are limited, do some training sessions at local pet friendly stores such as hardware stores, farm stores, and craft stores.

And most importantly, consider your role, responsibilities and desires for the event you are going to be taking your dog to. This is a huge one that I can't stress enough! Some people like to use the term, "my dog is bomb proof" to describe a dog that seems to handle just about anything. We've all known people that seem to excel in most environments. Just like people, our dogs have emotions and can have a bad day or simply be overwhelmed in certain situations. We need to be prepared to help our dogs in those situations by either taking them to a safe space, leaving the event, or leaving them home from the start when we know an event will be too much. This is very situational for most people and dogs so here is an example:

It's time for annual Christmas parade and you take your dog with you. You and your dog enjoy seeing the lights, hearing the music, and the general excitement of the event. You might be meeting up with a friend or two that your looking forward to. But you have no responsibility to anyone and can leave if suddenly your too tired, too cold, or get hungry. This is the perfect situation as you are more likely to be aware of your dog's comfort levels during this event and leave if they are becoming overwhelmed or struggling in some way.


It's time for the annual Christmas parade and you take your dog with you. You're meeting up with Grandma & Grandpa and various other family members so you can all watch your daughter march by with band or some other family member ride by on a float. Perhaps you've loaded up your car full of people because parking was limited and you had access to close spot. After the parade you are all going out for a warm beverage or dinner together. The event might be the same, but the situation is entirely different! You can't or won't leave the event if your dog is uncomfortable because you will put the other people's needs and desires above your dog. That's totally natural, but this is an event that you may want to leave your dog at home instead of bringing them with you.

  • Allow your dog to sniff the environment and become comfortable before approaching the festivities.
  • Choose a safe space at a distance your dog can be comfortable to watch the activities, even if that means you remain on the outskirts of the event.
  • Allow yourself to enjoy the activities but don't become so distracted that you won't notice your dog struggling to follow your lead or listen to your cues.
  • Leave early enough that neither you or your dog become overwhelmed or uncomfortable.

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...