Ugg Steele:Notes on a foster dog

Ugg was pulled from Newport Animal Control because they deemed him most unlikely to be adopted, therefore most likely to be put down. He’s an affectionate boy, he just needs to learn some manners.

Last updated: Nov 9, 2018

Base Info:

  • Arrival date: Aug. 27, 2018
  • Breed: Great Dane mix
  • Sex: Male
  • Age: Young, Adult, Mature, Senior
  • Weight: @80 pounds
  • Spay/Neutered: Yes
  • General Health: Excellent
  • Temperament: Generally submissive. Calm when in kennel or crate. Gets playful when released, but is doing much better at controlling his exuberance.
  • Gets Along with Dogs: Yes: as long as the other dog does not get scared of his size and become defensive. Ugg is not at all aggressive, but his play can intimidate smaller dogs who can get defensively aggressive toward him.
  • Gets Along with People: Yes, he loves being with people, especially getting a belly rub. Likes to play fetch and tug.
  • Housebroken/Crate Trained: Partially (see Progress Notes: Oct 1)
  • Departure date: Nov. 9th, 2018


Picked up as a stray by Newport Animal Control. Adopted out, brought right back because he ate their house. He needs to learn self control. Basically he’s a BIG puppy.

Known Issues & Progress

I was told he was unwalkable because he pulls like a John Deere. A front-clip harness brought that to an end and I had him walking laps in the yard with me the evening of his first day. Since then he just gets better at it.

He likes to “mouth”: We have that under control now. When excited he may forget and start to mouth, but a simple, stern “no!” stops it.

He liked to jump up and paw me: That is now under control. Instead he rolls over on my feet for a belly rub or sits at me feet and leans back against my legs so I can scratch his chest while he licks my arm (see video below).

He likes to chew things, like his brand new Kuranda bed. He’s a puppy. Puppies do that. I’m trying to teach him to chew appropriate things like toys and pigs feet (preferably those that are no longer attached to a pig).

With funds donated by a kind supporter, we bought Ugg an aluminum Kuranda. That has stood up well and he likes laying on that. He never did actually lay on the PVC framed bed. (See Progress Notes 9/19)


  • DA2PP: August 20, 2018 (N.A.C.)
  • Bordatella: August 20, 2018 (N.A.C)
  • Wormed: Aug. 28, 29, 30 2018 – Fendbendazole, 12 ml (P.M.F.C.)
  • Rabies: Aug 13, 2018 Wt: 56# (Cedarwood), Sept 12 (Claws & Paws)
  • Spay/Neuter: October 5, 2018
  • Flea/Tick preventative: Sept 13, Oct 5,
  • Heartworm preventative: Sept 13,
  • Heartworm Test: Sept 12 (negative)


In roughly chronological order, newest at the bottom. Click the thumbnails to enlarge. Some pictures are linked to Doggy Tales or videos about Ugg, click those to open the related story or video.

Ugg REALLY wants to play!

Looking dapper in his red harness

Insurance until I can get a second kennel latch. He’s a strong boy!

Ugg and Blue are friends already.

Being bossed around by Blue (STORY)

Blue and Ugg making great strides! (story)

Progress notes 09/19

Uggs Big Ball (video)

Ugg learns a new trick (story)

Ugg is SO lonely with Blue gone. (video)

Progress Notes Oct 1

I can be chill, see?

Uggs new mode of affection (video)

Ugg says, “I want to eat, but I feel too yucky (video)

Playing fetch

Ugg CAN just spend time in the yard with another dog. (video)

Ugg and Lady playing (video)

“I’m ready for my treat!” (video)

Ugg is a 5 Star leash walker! (video)
If you enjoy our updates, Doggy Tales, and educational articles consider subscribing for notices when new pieces are posted. It’s painless and you can unsubscribe any time you want. Your e-mail address is used ONLY to deliver these notices.

A Trick for (giving) Treats

When training a dog, I find that giving SMALL treats as a reward for proper responses speeds the learning process and makes the session far more enjoyable for the dog and for myself.  But what do you do when you have a dog that is so eager to get that treat that she’ll take your thumb and finger with the treat if you hold it between them?  Here’s my Trick for Treats:

When a dog is gentle about taking treats, this is not an issue — like Ugg:

When giving larger treats (not training treats) presenting them sideways to the dog helps prevent the dog from taking your hand along with the treat:

When NOT to use treats in training

When I first start training a dog that has been living on the streets for a while, I don’t use treats at all.  These dogs are often so food-centric that as soon as they discover I’m carrying food they will do anything — including knocking me over and tearing open the pocket or pouch — to get it.  They have no idea about doing what I want them to do to get the food doled out to them a morsel at a time.  They want the food, they want all of it, they want it NOW.  That can be dangerous.

So instead I reward these dogs’ good behavior with head scratches and neck rubs.  And that may take some work too.  Dogs that have been abused or neglected for a long time are not accustomed to being touched except in violence and will be skittish about it.  Be patient.  Take it slow.  Earn his trust. Use a soft voice, and stay as low as possible so you are not towering over the dog.  That’s intimidating to them.  Also avoid staring at her eyes: her instincts tell her this is a challenge and hostility.

Once he’s adjusted to the idea that touching is pleasant, petting will serve as reward enough until you’ve gained enough respect that he will trust you to give out the food treats as they are earned.

If you enjoy our updates, Doggy Tales, and educational articles consider subscribing for notices when new pieces are posted. It’s painless and you can unsubscribe any time you want. Your e-mail address is used ONLY to deliver these notices.

Progress Notes: Oct 7, 2018

We’ve taken in two new pack members this week, and are planning another facilities upgrade.

Low Rider

Seriously? Don’t you have a harness that fits?

I picked up Low Rider on Tuesday.  She went straight into a crate in the bunkhouse for several reasons.

  • She was infested with fleas.  We work hard to keep fleas out of our facility, so that has to be dealt with before she can come anywhere near our other dogs.
  • She is fearful.  She’s obviously been abused and is frightened of new people, insects, falling leaves, and the outdoors in general.  But not dogs: she ran right up to Ugg and Lady and said howdy to each.  She’s only comfortable in a crate and prefers a quiet environment to herself.  The bunkhouse is perfect now that it’s not so hot every day.  I can run my big turbo fan in front of a window and keep it tolerable in there.
  • She would not walk on a leash.  If used with a collar, she’d drop and gator-roll trying to get away from it.  A harness works better, but it has to be removed when she goes back into her crate or she’ll chew it up.  We lost a $30 Walk-Rite harness learning that lesson.  The next smallest harness I had was a poor fit, but it served the purpose while I ordered more harnesses.

Progress Notes: Oct 1, 2018

When Blue left on transport, Ugg was so lonely!  The poor thing!

But we got him a new neighbor, Lady, and he’s much happier now.  Neither of them has been “fixed” yet so I am hesitant to let them play in the yard together.  But having a neighbor again makes him happy.

Ugg has come a long way on his behavior recently.  He has a strong desire to please me, so that makes it easy to train him.  I only have to be clear on what I expect of him and he complies.  He now understands that it is not okay to stand up, put his paws on my chest and butt me in the face with his nose.  He also understands that mouthing my hands or arms are not good things either.

Once in a while, when particularly excited to be let out of his kennel, he will forget and try to grab my arm, but a stern, “No” reminds him.  All my bruises have healed up now!

He no longer “attacks” me with affection when I let him out of his kennel.  The No Nip Trick worked well to focus his attention elsewhere, so now he knows that when first released he should run out into the yard to sniff, pee and poop as needed.  Then, when calmed down, he comes back and we do some calm, affection.

Ugg no longer sees his kennel as “confinement”, but as his “room”.  He has not bent anything trying to force the door in quite a while.  I still use the chain reinforcement at night and when I leave the property, but just the double latches during the day when I’m here.

When Ugg is in play time, he sometimes tells me that he’s done playing by going into his room, sitting on his bed, and looking at me to say, “I’m done playing now, bring me my cookie.”  If I hand him the cookie, he often envelops my whole hand with his big mouth, but he’s really gentle about it.  I think he’s kidding around.

If I tire before he does and give him the “In your room” command, most of the time he will comply right away.  Sometimes he stands and looks at me with a, “I’m not done yet” look.  Once in a while he has not moved his bowels yet and will ignore me until he does that, then gallops over to go in his room.  Other times, he is just being obstinate and will go back to sniffing or walking around.  if I say, “Ugg, you’re being a bad boy” he walks to his room, “Oh, okay.”  He’s not happy, but he complies.

One of his new tricks is to come over and sit on my feet with his back to me, them sit up tall and lean back against my legs.  I hold onto him and scratch his chest, he licks my arm.  This is our compromise to his jumping on me and mouthing my arms.  He wants affection and close contact, this is a more appropriate way of getting it.  And he worked this out on his own!

Ugg has become fastidious about not pooping in his kennel.  This has happened only once in the past couple of weeks, and that was my fault, not his.  It was raining hard and I didn’t let him out on time.  A fella can hold it only so long.  If I’m running late, he will fuss and bark to remind me that he has needs too.  He should be easy to house break, he’s already mostly there.

He still gets upset when I leave the property, but has not chewed up anything, nor damaged his kennel (lately).  I think he’s getting used to the idea that I DO come back if I go away.

An adoptive home for him will need a friend for him if he is to be left alone sometimes.  And I’d recommend a sturdy crate if he’s to be kept indoors, or a strong kennel if kept out doors while the family is away.  As he learns to trust, the separation anxiety will go away and he’ll be less likely to chew up things in frustration.  He’s really calm and docile when crated, as long as he is released often enough to see to his bodily needs.

He walks well on a leash using a front-clip harness.

If you enjoy our updates, Doggy Tales, and educational articles consider subscribing for notices when new pieces are posted. It’s painless and you can unsubscribe any time you want. Your e-mail address is used ONLY to deliver these notices.

Ugg Learns a New Trick

Ugg learned a new trick while we were away at church today.
He’s been so lonely since his lil buddy, Blue, left on a rescue run.

When we got home about 12:30 Ugg met us at the wooden gate, grinning his face off and tail flapping madly. A neighbor said he was loose in the yard for quite a while, she first saw him around 11:00.  The roof of his kennel is all torn up.  The corner is shredded and there are many punctures to the tarp covering.

I moved Ugg into kennel #1, which is our Max Security cell, with mesh fastened in under the roof along the edges to prevent climbers from getting out. I had to move all the added hardware from his old room to the new one too.  That was Blue’s room since I figured if anyone was a climber, it would be a hyper Terrier.

Ugg discovered early on that he could yank his door into the kennel (twisting the latch) and get out. I installed a heavy chain with anchor shackles until I could order a second latch to mount down low. But even the second latch wasn’t enough so I use both latches AND the chain at night and when I go away.  He can’t get out through the door any more, so he went looking for some other way … and found it. Who’d have thought such a massive dog would be a climber?

I guess we’ll have to go to N.A.C. and find Ugg a new neighbor – and save another life.

If you enjoy our updates, Doggy Tales, and educational articles consider subscribing for notices when new pieces are posted.  It’s painless and you can unsubscribe any time you want.  Your e-mail address is used ONLY to deliver these notices.

Progress Notes: Sept. 19, 2018

I got word last night that Blue will be leaving on Friday’s rescue run. He is going to a rescue that has experience with rowdy dogs, so he ought to do okay. Ugg will be staying for another round.

The ironic part is that Ugg is actually doing better than Blue at settling down, but I guess I haven’t made that clear. And Blue is a small dog, so even though he is more rowdy than Ugg, he is not terrifying like Ugg can be when he does decide to get my attention by jumping on me and mouthing.

So I’ll help Blue pack his bags for the trip, and Ugg will hang with us for another month.

We’re on our third Kuranda dog bed for Ugg. The first one I ordered was too small. The second was framed in all PVC and he chewed up a corner piece. Kuranda sent replacement parts (aluminum top caps for all four legs, but while we were waiting for those he chewed up more parts.

27″ x 44″ all aluminum frame Kuranda dog bed

Because of the generosity of a good-hearted woman, I ordered an all aluminum Kuranda bed for him. That one has held up well and he is laying on it. He didn’t seem interested in laying on the PVC bed, only in chewing it.

It has been rainy, and he likes being up off the wet gravel. Ugg is also using his dog house for the first time. Until the remnants of Florence came flouncing through, Ugg preferred to camp on the pea gravel, even in light rain (because his roof keeps most of his kennel dry in a light rain). But the heavier rain and breezes sent him scuttling for shelter.

Blue likes his Coolaroo and his doghouse and uses them all the time. He has done only minor damage to his Coolaroo dog bed.

These two are able to share the play yard again. They had a dust-up a while back over a yard bone one of them found. That got ugly, though it wasn’t Ugg who started it. Blue gets possessive of treats and toys. Neither got hurt in their dust-up, but Blue is still guarded around Ugg. I think he wants to try to prove to Ugg who is boss here, but has found that Uggs size needs to be respected. They do not play together any more, but when their paths cross as they wander, they are civil. There just can’t be any toys in the yard.

Ugg is easy-going and non-aggressive. His only issue is that he doesn’t realize how big and powerful he is, and he can scare the willies out of the smaller dogs when he tries to play with them. I’ll continue working with him on that as well as his self control when he gets excited. He’s going to be fine.

If you enjoy our updates, Doggy Tales, and educational articles consider subscribing for notices when new pieces are posted. It’s painless and you can unsubscribe any time you want. Your e-mail address is used ONLY to deliver these notices.

Follow the Leader: Blue Steele Style

Blue and Ugg are our “outside boys”. When Ugg arrived, Blue had already been here a couple of days and got lonely when no one else was outside.

When I first brought Ugg home, Blue growled at him and backed away. Maybe because Ugg is twice Blue’s size, maybe because Ugg stunk, maybe because I was with Ugg not Blue. Blue likes to be the center of attention.

It did not take long for Blue to change his mind about Ugg and they started hanging out close to their shared wall, getting to know one another.

Blue’s jealous/possessive trait kept them from playing in the yard together for several days, but we eventually got that worked out and they now enjoy spending their play periods in the yard together. They have worked out their pecking order: little Blue is the leader and Ugg is his stooge who happily follows him around like Pinky and The Brain.

Okay, maybe not
*that* hard

Today was a hot one, and their mid-day play time was mostly spent laying in a patch of shady grass, because that’s what Blue said to do. In the afternoon we had a short, hard rain that came late enough to cool things off. Too early in the day and rain makes things tropical and sultry once the rain stops.

With the cooler temps and wet grass for the evening play session, Blue invented a new game: High Speed Follow the Leader.

The way it worked is that Ugg would be following Blue around as they sniffed. Without warning, Blue would bolt off at a run. Ugg rose to the challenge and tried to catch up. Blue is much more nimble than Ugg, and when Ugg caught him, Blue would execute a sharp turn — which he managed, but Ugg tended to slew around in a wide turn, if he didn’t lose traction all together and go down to slide on his side along the wet grass.

Blue clearly thought this was hilarious. Ugg continued to play along with the game, not appearing to be embarrassed or frustrated in the least. Indeed, he thought this was a fun game!

Blue would slow to a walk and they’d resume sniffing until Blue sprung another surprise departure on Ugg. Over and over they did this until both were winded and ready for their treats.

Blue indicated their readiness by going to the mailbox where I store outside treats, toys, and small equipment and nosed the door, “I’m ready for my snack, get us our cookies!”

Blue is a little bossy, but really cute. And smart!

If you enjoy our updates, Doggy Tales, and educational articles consider subscribing for notices when new pieces are posted. It’s painless and you can unsubscribe any time you want. Your e-mail address is used ONLY to deliver these notices.

Progress Notes: 09/04/2018

Both Ugg and Blue have been here for just over a week: Ugg for 8 days today, Blue for 10 days. Both came in with behavior issues. Ugg is a 70 pound Great Dane who still thinks he’s a 10 pound puppy. Blue is excitable too, but his major issue is jealousy and possessiveness.

Blue has been exhibiting this when I had the both of them in the yard at the same time. If Blue has a toy and Ugg comes to see what he has – not even trying to take it, just curious, Blue gets snarly and snappy with him. Same if I’m petting Blue and Ugg comes over. If I’m petting Ugg, Blue will come in and try to push Ugg – who is twice his size – out of the way and take over the affection fest.

It’s interesting that when they’re in their kennels, food and toys don’t seem to cause any issues. In fact I often find Blue’s toys in Ugg’s room, and the only way they could get there is if Blue is placing or holding them within Ugg’s reach.

When Blue acts out, it earns him an immediate and swift trip back to his kennel, where he stays for the rest of the play period, watching me play with Ugg. Lately I’ve been making sure the toys are put up before every joint play time. I’ve been working on getting Blue to take turns for my affection. He’s made strides in the past two days, and nearly every play session is now a joint session. That’s good because they both get doubled time in the yard this way.

Today they got hot from playing in the yard and decided to rest in the shade of my barn and watch me work in the garden.

Blue had found a yard bone and brought it with him. He wasn’t chewing on it, just sort of sitting on it.

I took a picture of them being good with my phone. My Handycam is out of commission right now. The phone makes a simulated shutter noise when it snaps a picture, and Blue hopped up to come over and see what that noise was. He left his bone behind.

Ugg reached over and snatched the bone.

When Blue went back to his place, the bone was missing and he started sniffing all around, looking for it, “My bone, my bone – where did my bone go?”

Then he saw Ugg chewing.

“Hey! Is that MY bone you’re chewing on.”

“Nah, I found this just laying around.”

“So, where’s MY bone?”


When Blue pushed in to check on that bone, I grabbed the hose and got ready for an altercation.

“That IS my bone. You stole my bone!”

“Nuh-uh. I found it. You didn’t have it, it was just laying there.”

Then Blue did something that really surprised me …

He said, “Meh — I don’t care. You can have it.” and went back to his spot and laid down!


I’m so proud of Little Boy Blue! That is a major step for him.

He got extra treats when it was time to go back to his room.

If you enjoy our updates, Doggy Tales, and educational articles consider subscribing for notices when new pieces are posted. It’s painless and you can unsubscribe any time you want. Your e-mail address is used ONLY to deliver these notices.

Blue Takes Charge

Ugg and Blue got their baths and nail trimming this afternoon. I find that right after their bath is the best time to trim nails. Having been defeated by my making them all wet, even the toughest dog knuckles under and says, “Fine, do whatever you want to me.”

Afterwards I put a lead on each and took them out in the play yard together for the first time.

I kept hold of Ugg’s lead for a while because I figured if either was going to get out of control, it would be this big rowdy boy. But Ugg did fine and eventually I dropped his lead and let them play without my being an anchor, slowing Ugg down.

I’m the boss, come with me.

Blue immediately seized on the opportunity to mess with Ugg by grabbing up the lead that was dragging along behind him and attempted to force Ugg to go with him.

What a brazen little boy! Ugg weighs three times what he does.

Blue kept insisting on playing that little prank, so eventually I took the lead off Ugg. If Blue wanted to lead someone he’d have to lead himself … and he has done that (pick up his own lead and walk around with it in his mouth) quite a few times!

The two of them wandered off together. Neither showed any interest in playing, but they enjoyed one another’s company.

Eventually Blue found a ropey toy, showed it to Ugg and ran off. Ugg accepted the challenge, but when he got near Blue, Blue turned nasty and started snarling and snapping at Ugg. Ugg was shocked.

I snagged Blue and whisked him immediately and unceremoniously back to his kennel, where he stayed while Ugg and I finished up our play session. Dogs who can’t play together can’t play at all. He will get a solo play time later, but he’s done with group play for today. Tomorrow he may try again. When he learns to control that greediness he’ll be a happier, and better behaved, boy.

If you enjoy our updates, Doggy Tales, and educational articles consider subscribing for notices when new pieces are posted. It’s painless and you can unsubscribe any time you want. Your e-mail address is used ONLY to deliver these notices.