Clicker training with Cooper

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“I actually can’t pinpoint the specific moment it started. It just seemed unusual because we raised him in the city and it’s not like he’s never seen joggers and cyclists. Anyhow he developed this behavior and we think it’s either because now he is 2 years old and it’s been brought to my attention that he has entered his teenage phase (sic) and the hormonal changes can cause an anxiety in dogs. But more likely, possibly something at a very minimal level kind of spooked him. Either a jogger or a cyclist and it took a while to kind of build up into something. Now, pretty much anything that’s fast moving causes a reaction in him. His reaction is very fear based. He will chase them away and bark at them. It’s not a reaction to play. His reaction is to get them away from him. And again, I know it’s not uncommon. I see dogs all the time that will bark at cyclists and such. But I wanted to address it because first of all we do live in the city and I don’t think it’s acceptable to just walk around with a dog that lunges at other people.”

As we’re talking, Jacqueline is continuing to click and reward Cooper for not reacting to a cyclist that whips by us.

“We’re treating this training like a game. This is just what we’re working on now. Actually yesterday’s session in the morning went so well that yesterday evening’s session we did just off Yonge Street, which is much busier. There are cars there and a lot more pedestrians. And more joggers and cyclists. And he did so well.”

Cooper makes a friend

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While we are chatting, a 10 week old Bernese Mountain Dog puppy comes running over. Cooper is great, he is tolerant with this rambunctious, playful pup.

“Immediately start the training process. Obviously I am a bit biased, but I highly recommend positive reinforcement. Because having a dog, particularly when you get it as a puppy, is a very long term commitment. One of the things I always say is that if Cooper lives until his full life expectancy, and knock-on-wood that he does, then I will be 40!

“If you think of everything that happens between your late 20s and the time your 40 that’s a key time period of your life and you need to make the investment early on so that you have a happy, healthy, well behaved dog.”

Small dog has big impact

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“His name is Philly, short for Felipe. I named him Philly because my favourite football team is the Philadelphia Eagles. He is three and a half years old and he’s a rescue.

“It’s amazing. It’s a real responsibility… a little stepping stone to having children. It gives us a purpose. If we’re going out for a walk…it’s an outing for the family.”

Zoey herds Bison

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“I always have my dogs with me. This is Zoey, she’s my 4 month old Cattle Dog and this is Bison, he’s a little under a year and he’s a Staffy (Staffordshire Terrier). She’s so mean to him…Zoey! Get off of him!

“They are the biggest friends! She is relentless. She nibbles on his ears, his tail… he’ll be sleeping and she’ll wake him up. He has all the patience in the world. I try to do a lot to keep her entertained! She is a handful. We joke that Bison is her own personal calf and that she spends all her time herding him!

“Seattle is very dog friendly. I ride the bus with them every day, all day. I take them in stores. I take them everywhere.

“Having a dog makes me responsible. I’m responsible for myself and them. It makes me be a better person. If I have to make sure they eat, then I have to make sure I eat at the same time. It just makes me stay on top of things.”

Ivan the Great

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“I found him one night after we were dove shooting. He was in the ditch and he was only 8 inches long at the time.

“He warns me 30 minutes before I’m about to have a seizure…He knows when my glucose has dropped. He showed an aptitude for alerting me, so we sent him off to school to be trained what to do.

“Ivan allows me to live medication free.”