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


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