Puppy, it IS cold outside

Top: humans' coats. Bottom: dog's winter wardrobe. This doesn't even include her holiday themed sweaters.

Jan. 20, 2024 Joan Marie Dauber

Only a few weeks ago, it was 60 degrees. We've now hit -31 degrees with wind chill. I've been taking dogs out for over twenty Chicago winters, so I've learned how to be prepared.

First of all, if you have a Samoyed, Husky, Malamute, or Shepherd, you have hit the jackpot! They are built to weather any winter storm. Do be careful if your dog is a puppy or is elderly or has any health conditions that could make exposure to lower temperatures unsafe and limit their time outside appropriately.

If you are like most of us, your dog is at times cold and uncomfortable outside right now, particularly when it comes to their paws. Here are some ideas to keep them safe and cozy:

Make sure your darn good dog is staying hydrated as well. If you want to boost their hydration, try adding Brutus Bone Broth to their food, or freezing it as pupsicles in an ice cube tray.

The ideal way to acclimate your dog to these accessories is through gradual steps paired with positive reinforcement. This year consider starting this training in September, so Fido will offer a paw to get bootied up and lift his head to go through that sweater! If you need help with handling and fear free training, contact us at

Spring forward - with a plan!

March 11, 2024 Joan Marie Dauber

You might lose more than an hour of sleep: your dog is going to be HIGHLY distracted with the smells, sounds, and sights of Spring - you could lose any communication outdoors. Here's how to spring forward together!

- Change or upgrade your reinforcers for your leash walks and park hangs! Variety is the spice of life: dogs enjoy novelty, just like us. Remember: it's not just food that's reinforcing. Toys, play, praise, petting, favorite tricks, and even chasing squirrels (on cue and with excellent recall!!) all are excellent positive reinforcers.

- Get unpredictable. Start randomly and more frequently playing games like: Name Game, Pattern Games, treat scatters, "get it/find it/search" food tosses, and Recall Games using hand targeting or paw targeting to engage your dog back into your human world. 

DO let Fluffy have her sniffaris, but start increasing the unpredictability and amount of engagement you have with her outdoors. This way you can prevent nature's powerful reinforcers from grabbing her attention completely away from you.

- Use Premack. Premack Principle is the "you can have dessert after you eat your vegetables" principle. 

An example. Fido just saw a bunny run into a yard and, boy, is he ready to hunt! Ask for the tiniest bit of engagement with you (brussel sprouts) with any behaviors he knows that are quick and easy, then immediately reinforce him by cueing "go sniff" where the bunny went (ice cream sundae)! 

Give him a few seconds, then ask him to come back to you (make sure you are fun and packing a highly valuable reinforcer with you) for a moment. Repeat! Back and forth Fido goes, which gives you Recall and gives him access to the bunny zone. 

Eventually, he'll trust that when you call him back, he won't be denied all the fun he wants to explore in the world and will be happy to respond to your cues.

- The City is your parkour course. I don't know about your pup, but my dog LIVES to jump. Jumping over and on things leaves her tongue hanging and tail wagging! The City Dogs have so many opportunities to jump up on benches, rocks, steps, and more. If your dog can't jump for safety reasons, "Paws Up" for the two front paws is also a fun behavior that is safer.

Here comes the sun!

April 11, 2024 by Joan Harris

With great weather comes increased traffic in parks, beaches, and sidewalk cafes. Good canine etiquette is important so you can include your dog in all the fun. At Darn Good Dogs Chicago, we are here to help! Register now for training to sharpen your dog’s leash walking and basic obedience skills so you’re both ready for warm weather fun.

Read on and discover some great ways to get out-and-about with your pup!

Some of our Darn Good Hiking Favorites are Waterfall Glen and Starved Rock State Park. The Chicago Lakefront is always a winner with trails all along the lakefront that cover a variety of Chicago neighborhoods. A long walk around Lincoln Park lagoon and Zoo is another one of our convenient favorites! Or take a trip down to Jackson Park (cherry blossoms are out!) and check out the huge Jackson Bark dog park with agility fun. For other ideas visit to find a full list of Illinois tail-friendly trails.

Overall, many dogs’ favorite place, EVER, in the world! The Montrose Beach Dog Friendly Area assures Chicago residents, and their canine friends have a fun, clean and safe beach experience.

A short ride from Chicago, leashed pets are allowed both inside the National and State Parks and are welcome on most beaches and trails.

As a dog-loving city, Chicago offers a plethora of dog-friendly restaurants and cafes for you and your well-mannered pup. Many of these patios even provide treats and water bowls. Google "dog friendly restaurants in Chicago" and find a favorite in your neighborhood. Many ice cream shops have a "pup cup" available (plain or peanut butter) like Letty's favorite place Vaca's Natural Creamery.

Fill a container with some water and a few of your dog’s favorite treats such as apple or banana slices, berries, carrots or biscuits and freeze. On a hot day, your dog can cool off enjoying this homemade treat. Fill up the kiddie pool and have a great time in the backyard!

When the heat is just too much or when a rainy day stops you from going out, try teaching your dog a new trick! Darn Good Dogs Chicago trainer Joan Marie can show you how to do just that. Register for a Tricks and Fitness Class, a Tricks 4 Session Add-On Package, or private sessions to strengthen your dog’s mind and body. Nose work and Agility classes are also a fun way to keep your dog engaged and entertained indoors.

Remember to stay mindful while soaking up the sun to ensure your dog does not overheat. Offer frequent water breaks and limit activity when there are extreme temperatures. Never leave your dog in a car unattended and always provide access to shady areas. Stay safe while you enjoy the outdoors with your best friend in the upcoming warm weather months!

It's May! Time to chase the winter blues away.

May 1, 2024 by Joan Marie Dauber

Some of our dogs are going to take the "chase" part of that sentence VERY seriously which can be reallly hard on the other end of the leash (you). Today we're sharing some tips for high energy dog parents to take away the overly developed bicep you've got and replace that intensity with some peace and connection.