Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Building Up Interactions with Children

Azul loves children and pretty much always has, yet I still needed to approach interactions with youth by training smarter!

Azul was born into a house with 4 young girls and with me he has had lots of experience with my grandkids.  This has helped build his desire to interact with kids.  As a Service Dog, I frequently need Azul to go into public spaces where kids will be present.  And as a Therapy Dog, we often visit places where there are larger groups of children that all want to see him.  Not all dogs will enjoy doing educational presentations with large groups of children or enjoy laying in the library while youth read to them.  For this blog, I'm going to describe the slow approach I took to help Azul increase his love for interacting with children of all ages.

Azul at 4 months interacting with 2 girls on the library stairs while a concert was taking place across the street.  We were sitting at a safe distance far away from the music with just a few people coming and going on the library stairs.  These girls played the Pick One game with Azul!

By watching from a distance at parks and community events Azul learned to be calm around larger groups of people with kids running around playing nearby.

Azul learned to watch my grandkids playing with a wide variety of toys inside and outside the house.


Azul learned the cues for when to interact with kids, when to give his focus to the kids, and when he was free to play with this those kids by working with friends and family members on walks, while camping, and during training sessions.

Spending the day at a quiet park with my kids & grandkids.  Azul had time to play on the playground equipment with my adult children and relaxed on the bench with me while the kids played.

Then we practiced some pre-public access training skills at an ice cream shop with the grandkids.  Azul had previously practiced at quiet, outdoor patios.  But when we were ready to add in more distractions we were able to practice his under my seat tuck with family.  A few months later we were on vacation and had a meal at a picnic area with 18 family members for Azul to ignore.  I allow him to visit with family freely during non-meal time.  However at meal time, even in outdoor environments such as the campground we practice his Service Dog skills of laying under my seat or on a mat beside me.

Azul learned to ignore over 22 family members during meal time while we were camping before we went with these same family members into a restaurant as a Service Dog.  This was as much training for the family as it was for Azul.  He had already done quiet restaurant training with 1-2 friends and family members.  But taking this time during a family camp allowed us to set the boundaries of petting and play with all our friends when it was not meal time and totally ignoring everyone (and everyone else not trying to interact with Azul) during meal time.

As an adolescent Azul needed to go back to the park and other outdoor settings to remind him when to interact with people and when to ignore people.  By the time he was 2, Azul had generalized this to pretty much all environments.  This led us to be able to do one of our latest adventures....The Kid's Play Area during a birthday party!


This environment was far more stimulating then anything we had done before.  At 2.5 Azul is pretty much ready for anything or anywhere I need to go.  He handled this environment far better then I did.  Our next adventure is going to be the aquarium!

I hope you enjoyed this photo blog about building up interactions and the ability to ignore children by starting in low distraction environments and slowly building up.  This is extremely important for training Service Dogs!  If we move too quickly, putting them in environments they have not built up to yet, we run the risk of making them fearful around kids or in those environments.  
It's way more beneficial to Train Smarter, Not Harder! 


Crazy2Calm Kindness and Ethics

As a Crazy2Calm Canine Coach, Yooper Paws of Love is dedicated to force-free training support for all our clients!

The Crazy2Calm Canine Coach Collaborative is a network of canine professionals including Dog Trainers, Behavior Consultants, and other professionals dedicated to supporting an Animal Centered Education (ACE) process for all our human and canine clients.  Check out the Kindness Code below to see the standard of ethics all Canine Coaches, including myself, must sign when joining the collaborative.

The Crazy2Calm Kindness Code

The Kindness Code is meant to serve as an agreement among all Canine Coaches to treat each other appropriately with the realization that we all come from a wide diversity of past experiences.

We must recognize that dog training is not a one size fits all approach. Just like some learners will be more engaged with a specific training style, coaches also may be able to create a specific type of training resources better than others. Those who enjoy making videos, would produce more videos whereas someone who does better at writing may produce more text based resources. Therefore we will refrain from judging each other based on the type of media that is shared among coaches.

Some of us may have limited physical abilities, energy levels, educational skills, and various learning methods. We must be understanding of other Coaches physical and/or mental limitations, working together to help make resources as user friendly as possible.

By participating in the social networking part of this collaborative, we all need to agree to recognize and embrace the differences we have in training processes, the choice of training resources shared, and the client support services that each coach has the ability to offer.

We will keep in mind that all Coaches are on an individual learning journey and we all may need compassion and kindness along the way. By understanding our differences, together we can create a place where everyone can flourish and be successful.

The Admin & Support Staff team will strive to be a pillar of strength, working to help Coaches overcome any challenges and finding a way for each individual to be successful within the collaborative.

Together we can build momentum for a community driven by supportiveness & helpfulness, where everyone can feel safe, valued, and appreciated.

While this Kindness Code refers to ethical standard of dealing with other Canine Coaches, we also have a Code of Ethics that applies to our ethical standards for dealing with all our clients.

The Crazy2Calm Training Ethics

The Crazy2Calm Code of Ethics has been designed with the fundamentals of the 9 Core Principles of Ethics that are widely accepted among professions. This is not intended to be a list of requirements or criteria that Coaches must maintain in order to be a member of the collaborative. This Code of Ethics is designed to affirm that all who join the collaborative are in general agreement of the following base code of ethics.

1. “Do No Harm!” As Canine Coaches we often are faced with issues surrounding the use of punishment, the appropriateness of aversive procedures in certain situations, and handling dogs with serious behavior problems, “Do No Harm!” will be a most important ethical principle. Crazy2Calm Canine Coaches is intended to be a force-free, aversive-free environment for every individual, both human and animal.

2. Canine Coaches will teach our clients skills and techniques that should result in the dog being a well-mannered, well-behaved, family member. Teaching dog owners responsible dog ownership behaviors will result in creating a community where the dog’s individual needs are addressed as an important part of any training plan or behavior modification plan.

3. Canine Coaches should maintain a relationship that is mutually beneficial to all individuals involved. Canine Coaches may need to address ethical issues regarding trainer-client relationships, trainer-dog relationships, and trainer to trainer relationships. Coaches should maintain a goal of benefiting all individuals with the intent to give more than take.

4. Canine Coaches should treat other individuals as we would like to be treated refraining from giving unreasonable guarantees regarding the outcome of training. Unreasonable guarantees build expectations that do not consider the needs of the individuals involved. Coaches will set individuals up for success based on the needs of the individuals involved.

5. Canine Coaches will be faithful in this professional setting to apply the principles of confidentiality, promise keeping, and not violating the trust of others in this collaborative or the clients that we work with.

6. Canine Coaches begin with the assumption that every individual is worthy of respect; coaches, clients, the dogs, etc. Coaches can give individuals dignity by giving them strategies and procedures to use with which they can have success. Individuals are given dignity when Coaches understand their problems, needs, and the dynamics of their particular situation at a given time.

7. Canine Coaches will treat others with care and compassion. Coaches should imagine one’s self in the place dealing with a frustrated dog owner and with an understanding that a dog is not being noncompliant, instead, they are really confused about what we want them to do.

8. Canine Coaches should be in constant pursuit of excellence. This means improving one’s own skills as well as helping other individuals to “be all that they can be.” Coaches will do their best to have an impact on the larger dog training community, but they will not attempt to work out of the range of their own professional limitations.

9. Canine Coaches should be accountable and accept some responsibility for the services and resources offered within the collaborative. For example, if multiple individuals (coaches and/or clients) are struggling with understanding the educational resources, a trainer might have to accept responsibility and recognize that it could be that the instruction was not as effective as intended. Coaches will do their best to adjust their materials in effort to convey their message more effectively.

As a Canine Coach, I agree to uphold these standards of ethics, treating my clients with respect and dignity regardless of their race, physical abilities, or other discriminatory criteria.  I will uphold these standards towards the canines that I work with focusing on setting up sessions that help the dog to feel safe, calm, and happy throughout the session creating a relationship of trust between trainer, owner, and dog.

Monday, August 15, 2022

First Session Info

 What to expect during your first session with Yooper Paws of Love

Yooper Paws of Love is dedicated to providing training "With Love" to you and your 4-legged friend!
My mission as a trainer is to TEACH owners to ENGAGE better with their dogs to empowering them to ACHIEVE their goals using MOTIVATION to create the perfect team of handler and dog.

In order to accomplish this, I must first get to know you and your dog.  Therefore the first session will likely involve lots of observation and listening to both you and your dog.  This will look different for my in-person and virtual clients, so for the purpose of this blog I'm going to focus on my in-person clients.

Before your first 1-on-1 session we will have a discussion via phone, email or messenger in which we discuss the main reason you are seeking help with your dog, the type of approach I use for training, and the tools you will use on your dog in our session.  I often am asked to help owners who are training a dog for Service Dog work and owners who are struggling with fearful or reactive dogs.  No matter what the reason for our working together, I will use positive based methods to encourage better teamwork between owner and handler.  This will include using treats, toys, and other types of reinforcement to teach the dog the behaviors you want them to repeat.  This will not include punishment and/or correcting the dog for behaviors you don't want to be repeated such as pulling on the leash.  The tools I will ask you to use will be something that is safe and comfortable for your dog, most generally a harness with a front and back clip with a flat collar and a 6 ft leash but may also occasionally include a head halter or martingale type collar for dogs who like to slip their collar.   I will not meet with dogs wearing tools designed to issue corrections such as choke, prong, or shock collars.  This is non-debatable as it will not work with the teamwork training style that I will be teaching you.  If your dog is currently wearing a corrective collar, I will allow you to try on one of my harnesses for the first session to see if that will work for you before you purchase one.

The first session will take place at the Yooper Paws Training Center

Yooper Paws Training Center
611 N Hooper St.
Kingsford, MI  49802

We share the building with multiple businesses, but the Training Center is easy to find. We are located in the part of the building that sits closest to the road. You will enter through the door to the far right, walking up the ramp. You may choose to come in and chat with me before bringing your dog in or bring them in with you. There is a grass to the right of the building if your dog needs a potty stop before coming in. 

I will have some treats, toys and games set up in the main classroom for your dog to explore. This will allow your dog a chance to sniff and settle down in the new environment while I observe your dog's reactions to the distractions in that environment including me. I will also be watching how you interact with your dog during this team. If your dog is nervous around people or in new places, I will start behind a gate allowing them some time to check me out safely. If you consider your dog to be a bite risk, please let me know so I can add an extra layer of safety.

I do this observation time, not to judge you or your dog but to see where I feel that I can best be of help to you.  If your dog already knows how to sit, heel, and focus on you, there is no need for me to teach you these things.  By observing I can see what your dog currently knows and what you may need additional assistance with.

The whole time I'm observing your dog's emotional state to determine if there are things in the environment that are scary and/or over-exciting to your dog.  I will slowly work my way closer to you and your dog to see their reaction to my approach.  And assuming your dog does not have food allergies I will either feed your dog a few treats from my hand or toss them on the ground near your dog if I can't quite get close enough due to fear.  It's important that your dog learn that I am not a threat.  Some dogs learn this at the first session, while others take more time.  

After the observational period we will discuss issues you are having in more detail and work together to create a plan for future training sessions.  You can request this plan in writing any time you want one.  The cost of this session is $125 for a 90 min evaluation and planning session.

Follow Up Sessions

After the first session, we will likely get you signed up for one of our upcoming classes or a private session package. You can sign up for individual sessions at $75 per session or a 6-Session Package for $300. We can schedule future sessions at every week or every two weeks depending on availability and your needs.  

Common behavioral issues that I deal with include working with fearful dogs who lash out with lunging, barking, nipping at things that scare them (people, dog, etc.), easily distracted dogs who have over-excited greeting styles (leash reactivity, jumping, barking, etc.) and working dogs with owners that are wishing to train their dog to Service Dog level manners, Therapy Dogs, or other advanced level of training. While working on one or more of these issues we can also address common issues such as counter surfing, pulling on the leash, resource guarding, etc. 

If you have multiple issues to work on, we may highlight the most important issues to start with and wait a bit to work on some of the other issues. We may also pair your sessions with some additional training in the form of Nosework Club, Group Walks, or Mini-Sessions with other teams working on the same types of challenges. 

If you'd like to schedule your first session with Yooper Paws of Love please reach out to us at yooperpaws@gmail.com.

Please sign this Waiver before the first session!
You may print it and bring it with you or email it before the session.
Please let me know if you'd like me to bring a printed copy.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Service Dog Training

The Crazy2Calm Canine Coaches has been working on hard on putting together our SD Foundations Class and with that we've made 2 great videos to help all those new owner trainers that are just getting started.

Service Dogs Azul and Maverick doing some shopping together.

Crazy2Calm Canine Coaches, Penny Beeman, Cindy Schwab Campbell, & Elliot Brooks have teamed up to make these great videos that are FREE to anyone.  The first video deals with Public Access Training and the second video deals with Task Training.  We hope these videos help you get started with setting your Service Dog in Training up for success!

Public Access Training

Public Access Training (PAT) is one of the hardest things to do because we tend to think of training in a short amount of time, perhaps what we will accomplish in the next 1-3 months.  However PAT is one of those things that we work on for closer to 2 years and still touch up for the whole working life of our Service Dogs.  Unfortunately there are very few resources out there for new owner trainers to help you get started along this journey.  Therefore we wanted to create a video to cover some the key aspects of starting inside the house, in outdoor environments, in pet friendly businesses, and last but not least non-pet locations.

The video is long so there are 2 parts and places to stop in the middle for a break!

Part 1: Topics
Choosing new environments wisely.
Teaching your dog to process the environment slowly and feel safe.

Part 2: Topics
Leading up to restaurants.
Monitoring stress levels and conducting a readiness check.
Creating your Road Map to Success

Task Training - Setting Realistic Expectations

This is probably the biggest struggle for first time owner trainers or those with less experience.  Programs often won't do any task training until a dog is at least 18 months.  Some trainers are adamant that you must meet X,Y,Z criteria before you start any task training.  The problem with this thinking is that often the owner feels the need to get at least 1 task under their belt to feel like they really have a SDiT.

While it is extremely important to not rush through training or put too much pressure on a young dog, we wanted to help people understand why certain tasks need to wait for a dog to mature while also giving people some simple things they could do with young dogs to get started.

Common Task Foundations

There are absolutely some task foundations you can teach a young dog.  Targets such as a nose/hand touch, chin rest, and paw targets can be taught at a very young age.  Many medical alerts that are taught to mature adult dogs use some type of target as an alert behavior.  Positions in relationship to the handler such as heel position, between the legs position, standing in front or behind the handler, etc.  While standing in front, behind, or doing an orbit, common tasks designed to block or create space should not be paired with the environmental predictor for the need of that task until a dog is mature, you can easily get the dog comfortable in moving into those positions as an adolescent.  Tasks that involve scent training and mobility should officially be taught to mature adults and yet there are early foundations such as find it games and retrieving dropped items that can be taught to a much younger dog.

Our rule of thumb when it comes to task training is any task where you put a physical or emotional strain on a dog absolutely needs to wait until a dog has become mature.  


Additional SD Training

For more information about training your own Service Dog, be sure to check out my SD Tips page of this website. 

Here are the current Service Dog classes that are open for registration:

And here is the playlist for the SD Handler Chats on YouTube.

If you'd like to schedule an appointment to discuss training your own Service Dog, please reach out to yooperpaws@gmail.com.  This first appointment is always free!

Hard Realistic Expectations

 Last year I wrote on blog on how to set you and your dog up for success creating a plan that had realistic expectations.  Jump over here to...