Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cooper the Lab is doing great

Cooper is doing well with his daily lessons

He will make someone a great pet if they are upto the energy of an active Labrador Retriever. Labs need regular vigorous exercise and training for a healthy mind and body.

Self Control

He now has some self control and is able HEEL by my side most of the time without surging ahead. When he does I just turnabout and head back where we came from. When he catches up and is in the right position at my side I click and treat (clicker training). He is also getting good at sitting without being told the command SIT when I stop -- the automatic sit. 

Today when I took him to my mother's house down the road I left him clipped to the picnic table while I was inside for about 25 minutes and he didn't bark or whine.

Evening Fun

I just had him loose in my yard with my three dogs and he found an old bone to chew on. My dogs walked right pass him while he was chewing and he didn't growl or snap. I also was able to tug on his tail while he walked pass me with the bone in his mouth and he didn't mind (please don't do this to dogs you know well). I can handout treats to each of the four dogs while they are sitting close together in front of me without a problem.

He found a box turtle this evening and was chewing on it--didn't hurt it, their shells are quite hard. I was able to take it away from him -- once I got to him -- he did trot away from me a couple of times. I couldn't find any of his toys so I just played IN and OUT of his crate for a few minutes -- no more push him in the crate like I had to do a few times in the begining. He does well in his crate. I keep him there when I am not working/playing with him three or four times a day. 

I let Cooper spend sometime outside in the yard this evening to just sniff around the yard and chew on old bones he finds. He also goes after the toads in my garden. I do hope he finds a wonderful home soon.

Cooper is available for adoption at

Thursday, May 21, 2009

New dog toy for Cooper

Squeaky Toy for Cooper

Friday, May 21: Today I found a new toy for Cooper to play with -- a plastic toy with a squeaker in it. At first he just thought is was a toy like one of the other ones I have given him, but as soon as I tossed it and it squeaked he got excited. At first he didn't know the noise was coming from the toy and he would stop and look around. Then when he was the one to cause it to squeak while retrieving it, he would drop it and look all over the ground for where the noise was coming from. He did that quite a few times before he realized that just maybe it was the toy making the noise. 

Once Cooper realized that the toy was making the noise he would drop it and use his nose to sniff and push at it trying to find the noise maker. Now he did not bring it back to me to toss any more. He wanted to find that noise maker and he would sniff, chew, poke, push, toss, and drop it. Then he would grab it and run all over the yard with it. He was having a grand time with his new squeaky toy. I went about cleaning up the yard and left him to play with the toy.

After about 20-30 minutes he finally got bored with the noise and wanted me to toss it for him again. 

Great video: Yellow lab puppy clicker trained for only two weeks...
Dog Taining Video: How to Train a Labrador : How to Teach Your Labrador to Sit

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Playtime with my foster dog

Cooper loves clicker training
From Cooper Chocolate Lab
Cooper is doing very well with his daily clicker training lessons. He LOVES food/treats and now knows he can get the food to come to him faster when he responds faster. I think he is also more at easy with me and this forster home so he able to stay focused on his training better. Of course he will never have the strong focus of a Jack Russell Terrier or the super focus of a Border Collie. Labs just aren't like that -- except when they are tearing after a fast thrown ball. 


This morning I took him out of his crate and he was excited and jumping around me like crazy. I only tossed him two balls before I clipped on his lead for some Heeling work on the road. But he amazed me with how quickly he settled into the work. He is gaining self control and did quite well at maintaining his correct position most of the time. Until we walked near the cattle pasture. He is still worried about those big creatures and kept turning to kept his eyes on where they were in the pasture. I click and treat for returning his attention back to me.

Video on clicker training a dog to walk on a loose leash near you.

Cooper is not the bravest dog I have ever met. The other day when we where doing some heeling work on the road he saw my large German Sheperd behind a bush and spooked like a horse -- tore the leash from my fingers as he bolted down the road about fifty feet. He stopped turned around and looked -- saw it was just Lobo and then came trotting back to me. I clicked and treated for him returning to me. From now on I will click and treat him for moving closer to items that he is a little worried about to make him braver.

Body Work

I put him in a DOWN and moved my hands all over him. He is now quiet comfortable with me handling his tail and gentle squeezing and tugging on it. He is also good about his feet. I can massage between his toes and squeeze his toenails without him getting worried about it or mouthing my hands or arms. My fingers do tickle his feet from time to time, specially his hind feet, and he will do a little kick with them. 

Cooper is also doing a lot better with me rubbing and massaging his ears, cheeks, and face. I am also able to put my fingers down inside his ears. Now when he starts to get mouthy when I am touching his face and ears it is because he wants to play and is not because he is worried about what I am doing to him. 

Mouthy Puppy Play

He is still quite mouthy when he is loose and playing with me. I have to keep trying to replace my hands in his mouth with a ball or other toy in his mouth. In this area his is still very much like a young puppy. He needs to be distracted away from mouthing your hands to playing with a toy. I also say NO (calmly in a normal voice)  and click and treat when he mouths the toy instead of my hand. With a little time he will learn that toys go in mouths but human hands do not.

Playing Soccer Ball

I found a soccer ball that is about three quarters filled with air -- soft and Cooper can get a grasp on it and pick it up. I kick it as hard as I can for him. He runs after it then tackles it, sometimes flipping or tripping over it. He likes this new ball game.  For someone looking for a big puppy acting dog Cooper might just fill the bill. 

Cooper is available for adoption at

Video: Clicker training a dog so you can handle his feet. 

This is how I am working with Cooper and he is learning to like having me handle his different body parts. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Foster Dog Training Time

This post is covering May 18th and this pass weedend: Saturday and Sunday May 16-17. 

Saturday May 16 - day six with Cooper

Cooper did very well on his heeling lesson in the morning -- paying more attention to where his body was positioned and my movements. Midday I took him for a rode run to my mother's house where I checked on my ponies. When I went inside to visit with my mother I left Cooper's leash clipped to the picnic table.  This time he barked a few times after I was inside and whined a little then he was quiet for the rest of the time I was inside -- about 20-30 minutes.  My sister visited with him a bit -- petting him all over and rubbing his ears. He was wanting to play and like a puppy was a bit mouthy.  In the evening I played with him in my yard with my dogs -- tossed toys for him.

Sunday May 17 - day seven

Because I have a hurt hand (hurt it last weekend moving a large plant container)  and it was hurting me a lot today I didn't take Cooper for any road running. On our times together I played toss with him and worked on some of the following lessons: Heel, Down, Down-stay, sit, retrieve, and Come. 

I also handled his his feet/toes, tail, and ears.  He did very well -- not mouthy in the begining like he used to be, only getting mouthy when I put my figures down into his ears. I click and treated whenever he let me handle his body parts in a calm manner without putting his mouth on me. He is way more relaxed with me touching him all over. I even gave him some gentle tail tugs. 

Monday May 18 -- day eight

Cooper morning started off with some toy tossing and then some heeling on the gravel road. It was cool this morning and he kept wanting to forge ahead. I kept making inside turns (turning into the dog) to get Cooper to learn to keep back a little. Also did a little jogging and reversing when he lost focus on me.

When my son left in the golf cart to go down the road Cooper started barking and whining but he didn't keep it up for long. As soon as he was quiet I went outside and asked for a sit and click and treated him for it. Then I circled his crate and repeated.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday with Cooper my foster lab

Day Five with Cooper

Started off the day with some road work with Cooper running along the golf cart. During the breathing breaks I did more work on getting him comfortable with me handling his feet, tail, and ears. Cooper is still a bit mouthy -- it can take time for some dogs to learn to enjoy having their feet and tail touched, squeezed, gently tugged on, and massaged. 

Touching is nice

Most dogs enjoy you massaging their ears. Cooper is still a bit mouthy when I first start to play with them. This mouthiness maybe because he just has never had people handling him like this before. Working labs are breed for their ablity to retrive game fowl and so mouthiness in a young lab is common. 

With daily handling and clicker training Cooper will soon be completely used to having all his body parts handled. In a few more days of working with him he should be totally comfortable with someone handling his ears, tail, feet, and the rest of him.

I like to get my foster dogs used to having their ears and tail lightly tugged on for when they are around playful childern. I also play with their feet and toenail so nailclipping will not be a fuss.

Sounds and noises

Down the road a new barn is being built and Cooper is very attentive to the sounds of the construction work and looses focus on his training when he hears that noises. Like I wrote yesterday he also pays a lot of attention to the sounds of approaching and passing vehicles. And late last night when I let him out to go potty before I went to bed he also give a lot of attention to the howls of the coyotes in the distance. 

Midday fun time

I let Cooper out of his crate and played a little ball in the yard with him. Cooper is not reliable in returning a tossed ball to my hand or even dropping it at my feet. He will energetically go out and retrieve the ball but not always return it. Most of the time he does come nearly all the way back to me but then drops the ball a few feet or yards from me. I am trying to click and treat him when he drops it close to me. I also clicked and treated him for sniffing at or bitting hold of the ball when I held it out to him, but most of the time he just waits there for me to toss it again. 

Playing with Dogs

Gigit my heeler/corgi mix (about 30 pounds) came up to Cooper and invited him to play with a dog play bow. Cooper and Gigit played nicely for a few minutes. Cooper greets new dogs nicely which makes them feel safer and more willing to play with him.

Evening Ball

In the evening it looked like it was going to start raining soon and there was thunder so I just stayed in the yard (about an acre in size) and let all the dogs just sniff around. I played ball off and on with Cooper as I picked up sticks to stack around the old tree stumps we plan to burn. When I wasn't playing ball with him Cooper trotted about and checked out the whole yard area except for the couple of spots where the underbrush is thick and the blackberry brushes grow. He doesn't like to meet up the blackberry thorns -- not even if his ball or toy lands in them.

Look me in the eyes

When I first got Cooper he didn't look me in the eyes or pay much attention to my face -- which can be a good sign as it can mean that he is not real dominate. I click and treat when he does give me attention and looks at my face and now he is giving me more attention and looking at my eyes for my eye click (eye blinks). He ablity to focus on me for a longer time period has increased too. 

Cooper is availible for adoption from

From Cooper Chocolate Lab

Dog Training Video: Clicker Training a Dog for Attention

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Labs are fetching fools

Fourth day with my foster lab, Cooper

Started off this dog training day with another morning road run with the goft cart. I think Coopers feet maybe a touch tender from the gravel road because didn't run quite as fast for as long a distance as yesterday. I slowed the goft cart down some and stopped more.  Cooper also did more running on the road edge in the grass or where the gravel was thinner. It was also a little later in the morning than I usually work him because I worked out Howie the Hound (my other foster dog) first because his was leaving for transport north -- yippee he has been adopted and is heading to his new owners.

Dog Training Lessons...

On the stops we worked on: Heeling, Sit, Down, and Down/Stay. Also did a little more body touching to find his worry spots. Cooper like many foster dogs is not totally used to having all his body parts handled. So I play with his feet, tail, face, and ears. When he allows me without trying to move away or get monthy then I click and treat. This will soon have him looking forward to having his body part played with. 

What does it take to train dogs? Looks like it takes a lot of C's -- just found this on the Clarity Canine website: Van believes that to be effective, an animal trainer must be Calm, Creative, Clear, Concise, Concrete, Compassionate, Curious, Considerate, Comical, and aware that all of our actions, no matter how small, have Consequences whether we are aware of them or not.

Mid day fun
It about 1:30 pm I took Cooper out of his dog crate. He is still crying and barking when he sees me coming to get him (too excited) and I have to wait for him to calm down and sit quietly before clicking and opening his crate door. 

I did a little heeling work with him (after I let him find a good spot to pee). He kept getting ahead of me so we worked in a large circle with him on the inside of the circle. He did keep running into my legs/knees when he forged ahead.  Also did about-turns when he got too far ahead of me.  He will learn to pay more attention to where I am and where he is to me. He actions have consequences and if he doesn't like the consequence then he has to change his action. Whenever he is in the correct heeling postion then I click and treat and whatever gets marked and rewarded will soon be the action he is more willing to do. He sure does like the hot dog slices. 

Also did a bit of down/stay and touch work. Also started lightly squeezing his toe nails and clicking and treating when he kept his mouth and foot still. This will help make it easier to clip his toenails.

Meeting Dogs

Cooper meets other dogs quite easily without a lot of fuss and over the top excitement (unlike Travis did). This is a good energy and the dogs meeting Cooper are not overly worried about him and greet him good too. He also doesn't rip out your arm pulling on the leash trying to check out the new dog, which is nice.

Evening Ball Toss

At about five pm I took Cooper from his crate and did some ball tossing for him. He really enjoys fetching a ball and he run very fast to go get it. I left on is leash so I could step on the dragging end of it when he came close to me so I could try to get him to bring the ball back to me more consistently. Before thowing the ball again I asked and waited for him to sit and sometime I asked for a down. While he is excited with ball playing I am still not getting a down without me giving his leash a light tug down. But he is staying down better until I click and then toss the ball. 
Cooper may do well with Frisbee tossing too as he can jump pretty high for the ball.  

After the ball game I took him for a road run -- just a bit slower than we did yesterday. I also stopped and hooked his leash to the goft cart while I trimmed some rose bushes in my graden along the roadside.  He watched me and didn't bark or cry or pull on the leash, but I was not too far from him, maybe twenty feet at the most. 

Passing cars

Cooper does show some interest in passing cars and he may chase them if he was loose. Maybe if cars passed more often he wouldn't be so interested in them. Maybe I should try walking him along the highway in the morning 0ff-to-work time so he can get use to them more.

From Cooper Chocolate Lab

Here an overview video of clicker training a dog...

Clicker training -- great start for puppies! They love it!

Fat Dogs are not healthy dogs

My new foster dog, Cooper came to me pudgy 

A lot of people keep their dogs too fat and this is not good for their long term health as obesity can lead to many different health issues. While Cooper is with me he is getting a lot of good vigorous DAILY exercise and I will not be over feeding him. I can see already that he has lost a little fat in the few days that he has been here. You don't want your dog too skinny but many people's dogs are way overweight (so are many people). 

Take the time to give your dog what it needs to have a good life...
  • training and excercise/playtime on a consistent schedule 
  • good healthy food (consider feeding a raw diet)
  • healthy environment (how healthy is your home's air?)
  • love and affection (that why you have your dog, right?)
Posted on: May 7, 2009

...We all know that carrying extra weight isn't healthy for humans, contributing to such health problems as heart disease and diabetes, and the same goes for dogs. Obesity is the most common canine nutritional disease in this country, occurring in up to 25 percent of the population. Chubby dogs are more likely to develop serious [...]

If you have the money check into a treadmill for your dog...

Or bike with your dog and both of you can get in shape!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Third Day with Cooper the Lab

Hump day with my foster lab - Cooper

From Cooper Chocolate Lab
Morning Run

Cooper is getting very excited when I pull out the golf cart for his road running. He cries, barks, and claws at the crate door. I make sure to wait until he is quiet and sitting before clicking and letting him out of he crate. I also did a little heeling lesson with him and then let him find a spot to pee before starting the run. Boy, he does like speed and I can drive the golf cart as fast as it will go down the hills and Cooper can keep up with me. He as good lungs and fast moving legs. 

On the breathing breaks I ask for a DOWN and a STAY from Cooper. He is doing pretty well with this but I am not moving too far away from him right now. He is in a DOWN-STAY in the above photo that I took this morning. I also ask for him to stay in the down position while I return to him and pet him all over. 

I run him up and then down the road. I stopped at a deep puddle and let him walk in it to cool off, but unlike the other two foster labs I had Cooper doesn't flop down into the water to get wet. I will have to try him at the pond and see if he will fetch the ball from the water. 

After the run I put him back in his crate and gave him a little dog kibble on while I took my dogs for their morning walk. Cooper barked for a while while we walked down the road away from him.

Dog Yard -- Fussy Fit

When I got back I put Cooper in his dog yard next to Howie the Hound my other foster dog. I gave them both a large raw beef bone to chew on. At first Cooper was busy with the bone and didn't bark when I walked away, but that didn't last long soon he was whining and barking up a storm. I just waited to see how long he would keep it up. After about 15 minutes or so he stopped barking and must have went back to chewing on his bone. Then after about 15-20 mintues he went back into his frenzied barking and whining again which he kept up for about 20-30 mintues until I finally went and got him and put him back in his crate. I was tired of hearing him bark and worried that he would get overheated with all that activity. 

Maybe he has spent too much time in the vet kennel and the dog yard causes him a lot of anxiety. He does well in the dog crate most of the time -- does bark and whine when I go out and he sees me and wants to demand that I let him out.

Visiting the Neighbors

I took Cooper on a run along to my mom's house down the road to check on my two ponies in her pasture. Cooper was just mildly interested in the ponies and a little worried about them when they ran along the fence with us on the other side. He didn't bark or growl at them just sniffed at them a bit when they stopped at their feed bowl to eat the food I gave them. 

I ran Cooper back and forth to the ponies' yard to the the pump shed to fill up buckets to fill up their large water bucket. Then I clipped Cooper to a picnic table so I could go inside to visit with my Mother. I thought that he would throw a fit like he did in his dog yard but he surprised me and just laid down quietly and waited for me to return. My two small dogs were close by hooked on the golf cart.  I was inside about 12-15 mintues and Cooper didn't bark once. When I returned home I put him in his crate. 

Evening Fun - Fetching Toys

I let Cooper loose out of his crate and showed him a Tennis ball. He got excited about the ball and jumped up and tried to grab it. I asked for a SIT and then clicked and tossed the ball. He likes this game runs fast to go and retrieve the ball. He is not consistent in returning the ball back to me. Sometimes he gets close and just drops it and then walks around sniffing the grass. I would pick up the ball and get his attention and ask again for a SIT. He would give the sit pretty fast and then I would throw the ball again. 

Once the ball went in the tall brushy area and he would not go in it to look for the ball. The area has some thorny blackberry bushes in it so that maybe the reason. I had to go and find another toy to toss for him. A couple of times in his excitement Cooper jumped up to grab at the ball before I could toss it.  I started asking for a SIT and even a DOWN before I would toss it. He would sit but I had to help him into a DOWN to get him to do that. Will have to work on DOWN more when he is excited and challenged. 

I also took Cooper for an evening road run too. He should sleep well tonight from his busy day. 

From Cooper Chocolate Lab
Notice that in the photo above that Cooper is wearing a "Gentle Leader Headcollar". 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cooper the chocolate lab

Second day with my new foster dog, Cooper

From Cooper Chocolate Lab
Morning Run

At about seven thirty in the morning I took Cooper for his run along the golf cart. I put my two small dogs on the goft cart in their dog harnesses and ran Cooper alongside on a four foot leash and a choke collar.  Just like yesterday evening he ran fast and enjoyed the running.  When we went alongside the pasture with the cows he was interested but also frighten of them at first. I stopped so the cow and Cooper could get closer to each other by the fence.  Cooper lost interest when the cows just stood there not moving and started to sniff the grass clumps. 

Over weight

Cooper is a bit on the pudgy side and needs to lose some fat. He will lose it fast with our daily runs. Too many dogs in the US are over weight and that is not good for their health. The main reasons many dogs are over weight is that they are over fed and under exercised. All dogs need daily exercise and most labs are active dogs that need more exercise then some other breeds of dogs. But since most labs like to retrieve balls they can be easier to exercise than a dog that doesn't care for retrieving. 


Duringthe  breathing breaks on the morning run with the goft cart I started Cooper on DOWN and STAY lessons . I was able to get him to go into the DOWN position rather easy and he also started to get the idea that I wanted him to stay in that position quite fast too even when I moved a small distance away. Cooper seems to be a smart dog and so far it looks like he will be easy to train.  He likes the hot dog pieces and takes the treats nicely from my hands.

I put him back in his crate when I took my dogs for their morning walk. Cooper barked and whined while we were leaving him, but didn't seem to keep it up once we were way down the street and out of his sight.

Lunch time lessons

At about 12:30 am I took Cooper out of this crate and put in the dog head collar (a Gentle Leader Headcollar). He let me put it on without a struggle and only attempted to remove it a few times as we walked around. I like to try out different training tools on the dogs and see what they do and what works best for each dog. I also like to switch around on using the different collars so the dog learns that no matter which one he is wearing I still want him to listen to my commands. 

Cry baby

After the lunchtime lessons I placed him back into his crate. He was quiet until my son left to go down the road to my Mother's house using the golf cart. Then Cooper started to whine and bark. He continued for about five mintues and I wondered if he also had to pee so I went out to his crate. He clawed at the crate dog and barked at me. I just stood there in front of his crate until he settled down and sat looking at me without barking. Then I clicked and open the crate door. 

You have let the dog learn that all his noise and fussing is not going to make the door open any faster. If you wait each time then you wait less as time goes on.  Dogs are learning all the time and many people end up being taught to listen to their dog instead of the dog learning to listen to the person. 

Evening Run

In the evening I took Cooper for another road run. He likes to run and fast! With these workouts he will be loosing his extra weight (fat) quickly. 

If you don't have a golf cart and a quiet road to run on you might want to look into biking with your dog. There are a few different dog walking devices you might want to check info. I like the looks of "WalkyDog®" dog bike leash. These devices help you bike with your dog safer than just trying to ride along holding on to their leash.

Chocolate male lab - Cooper

My new foster dog arrived Monday evening

Cooper is a pretty chocolate brown male Labrabor Retriever. I think he is already adopted so he will be leaving on a dog transport to the north soon. He is just with me for a short while to get a little training before his adoption. 

Cooper was delivered to my house yesterday evening. I put him in a dog yard and he cried and barked as his first foster mom and I walked away from him. He has a high pitched bark. He also jumped up and down by the gate. I do hope is will not be like Travis and start climbing out. 

First Run

As soon as my guest was gone I pulled out the goft cart and took Cooper for his first "run along". He likes to run and is fast! But he didn't try to pull my arm out socket like Bruce -- my first foster lab. He also has pretty good lungs and stamina and was able to run faster and longer than Travis but not quite as much as hyper Bruce. We went up the road nearly to the highway and then back down the road past the pond. 

First leash work -- Heeling

I stopped from time to time to let him catch his breath and do a little heeling work with him. He pulled a first but not with a lot of force.  I would like change direction and when he pasted me by and started to pull on the leash again I would change direction once again. You cannot get anywhere walking like this but that is not the goal. The goal is to teach the dog that when he feels his collar tighten that he better check on where I am going and come along with me. Cooper doesn't seem to be a hyper dog and doesn't run pass me going full speed like Bruce started off doing. 

After our outing I put Cooper in his dog crate so I would go walk/run my three dogs and my other foster dog.  He did whine and bark a bit when I first left him and he saw me leave the yard with the other dogs. 

Dog Training Tools
  • choke chain
  • 4 foot leash
  • 6 foot leash
  • golf cart
  • clicker and treats -- treats: dry dog kibble and sliced hot dogs
First Night

I left Cooper in his dog crate for the night. At about 10 PM I took him for a short walk around so he could pee before I went to bed. He was quiet in his crate all night. 


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