Hawk's Schedule

8/4 Lake Mills
8/12 CCSDA Training

January 31, 2012

Ups and Downs ...

Monday  We had to pay our taxes and get a dog license.  Fortunately, the village hall has an elevator.  Cooper was unsure with the bouncy floor and looked like a pancake on the floor for the ride up.  He exited calmly, but was not eager to step on the rug in front of the counter - another issue.   A few treats and he was lying on the rug.  Then we began our elevator work. Up, Down, Up, Down, Up. Down, while I dispensed treats and attempted to reassure him.  Eventually he was sitting and seemed relaxed, about ten minutes later.  He is fine ascending and descending, it's the bouncy floor.

Tuesday  No business today, but we made a trip downtown to the village hall to ride the elevator.  It may be the only public access elevator in town.  Cooper was much more relaxed and he remained in a SIT for the ride up.  The rug was still an issue.  There is a portion that is very worn and feels like plastic.  He will not walk directly on to that area, but it was not a problem when we walked over the rug lengthwise.  After getting him comfortable walking over the surface, we needed to try direct access a couple more times before all was well.  We got back on the elevator and rode without issue.  We stopped at the park on the way home and walked across the wobbly bridge.

January 29, 2012

Near Perfect

Quite the social butterfly during playgroup, Cooper gets the scent of every dog before settling into a biting match with his pit bull pal, Neato.  They only pause to welcome late arrivals or chase the running beagle.

Before the hockey game, the Custom Canines Crew met for a "quick" bite to eat.  I was pleasantly surprised by the behavior of all puppies in attendance.  Even though the table pedestals were not dog-friendly, Cooper maneuvered himself into a comfortable spot for the never-ending meal.  Although we arrived at 5 o'clock, we were late for the puck drop.

Walking to the game a few puppies made impromptu potty breaks, so I was concerned and took extra time before entering the Kohl Center because one episode generally starts a chain reaction.  After five minutes, nothing, so we reluctantly entered.  Walking to our seats, Oh Oh, potty break. Thankfully it wasn't Cooper, but our youngest puppy.  Situation resolved quickly with a team effort. 

The weekend's events were going perfectly until Sunday morning.  After another marathon meal, from Cooper's perspective, we stopped at Trader Joes.  Deciding to ride the elevator for practice, we uncovered that Cooper is still experiencing some trepidation in the "moving room".  The floor is not stable and he does not like it.  This week, we will be seeking out other elevators to work through the issue.

January 27, 2012


Thursday we got the chance to do some real world training with Cooper. Mac had a medical appointment, which his mom invited us to, so Cooper and I met them there. Cooper patiently waited with Mac and we also worked on ways to use Cooper as a distraction from unpleasant activities necessary for Mac's appointment.

Mac was in a silly mood today, even though he was feeling a bit under the weather, but he kept giggling and saying a phrase his mom and I were perplexed by because we could not interpret what he was saying. It had something to do with Cooper and it made him giggle every time. Finally, Mac walked over to Cooper and kind of shook his head between his two hands. We wondered then if it had something to do with the doggy whole-body shake that Cooper and most every other dog does after he has been resting and stands up to stretch.

Sure enough, I stood Cooper up, and he did the shake and the look on Mac's face was said it all! THAT was it and the phrase was "Cooper Wiggle!" I tried to capture Mac's smiles and laughter, but every time I snapped a picture, I got his sweet face but not much of a smile. We hope to add the WIGGLE command to Cooper repertoire.  Until then, the best we could do was to immortalize the Cooper wiggle, so Mac can enjoy it whenever he needs a laugh.

January 25, 2012


As advertised, this week's new location was a swimming pool where Cooper watched his boy. He was cautious of the new surface and plastic drain tiles, but settled in quickly and calmly greeted a young swimmer while waiting patiently.

After swimming, Mac stopped at Mounds to get a brush so he can help care for Cooper. We picked up a month's supply of dog food and weighed our growing beast. He weighed in at 51 pounds.

Our weekly training class at the Dog Den was preceded by a quick run through at the mall to practice SIT, DOWN, STAY with human distractions. The canine distractions proved to be more challenging, especially during playtime. Cooper is adapting to working with all four of his trainers.

January 22, 2012

Family of Five

Cooper had a play date this morning with Mac and Griff. Having laid the groundwork, it is important for our puppy to spend time interacting with others without us and develop his independence.

This was a significant day as it was the Austins first opportunity to spend some time as a Family of Five - without the bother of overbearing puppy raisers.

Cooper was exhausted when we picked him up. We ended up almost dragging him around a new grocery store. However, once we got home, he was tugging and wrestling with Monte. He seems to suffer from selective exhaustion.

Father Knows Best

Our day started with a basketball game for kindergartners. We had court side seats which was a significant test for Cooper - all the running kids and bouncing balls were only a few feet away. He did attempt to share Mac's chair at one point.

If you look close, you can see Griff on the left edge of the photo.

We missed the play group at the Dog Den, but substituted an outdoor group at Camp Morga - notice their tails in this and Additional Photos. The two highlights of the session were seeing the newly born Mastidors and meeting Cooper's father, Cashew. He and I played fetch with what appeared to be a log. It looks like Cooper takes after his mother.

After an already full day of events, we ended our day at the Badger hockey game with one tired puppy.

January 19, 2012

Mall Dog is CGC Ready

Well, Monte's diet is working. If you recall we have been giving him an extra piece of raw/frozen chicken every day. He has outgrown his collar and we had to search around for one that fit. The only one we could find was one inch wide, so we need to make a trip to the pet store to find a 1/2 or 3/4 inch wide collar that is twenty-four inches long. And Cooper continues to get bigger everyday; Monte's pronged collar almost fits him. He has only been getting chicken once a week, when he doesn't have any outings planned.

The Custom Canines training class was held at the mall this evening. Again we were a bit apprehensive because Cooper had never been to the mall before. My fears were unwarranted because he was stellar (after the initial canine greetings).

His first task was to work with a future client, April, who has cerebral palsy. She grabbed Cooper's leash and took off through the mall as I tried to stay close, just in case. Periodically, they stopped and SIT/DOWNs were requested. This will be her second dog and her experience showed. She had a pocket full of treats and knew when and how to use them. After the test drive, she liked how Cooper walked at her pace, but she commented that he needed work on DOWN.

Crystal then assigned Cooper and I to work on SIT, DOWN, STAY, HEEL, COME as we walked the mall. And take full advantage of the mall patrons to practice greeting people calmly. It is difficult to express how well Cooper did. He stayed by my side, so Crystal asked me to drop the leash to see how he would do. Even with all the distraction, only a minimal amount of prompting was required to keep him close. He tended to lag behind, but was easily encouraged to pick up the pace and ignore distractions.

His SITs and DOWNs were crisp and clean. He needs some work on his placement, remaining square, but we just started to add a FINISH/HEEL to our recalls. His STAYs were 95%; he had trouble when I hid behind a pillar or moved around a corner, out of sight. Recalls were solid. The only issue is that he is in no hurry to COME;he will slowly prance to meet me. This is in stark contrast to Monte who does everything fast and jumps into HEEL position.

Apparently, we have not turned Cooper into a frenzied ball of energy even though we haven't changed our training style. After six months, we have survived the Terrible Fives and he is becoming more consistent and is fully capable to pass the CGC test on any day. It took Monte fifteen months and that was just a good day. Apparently nature is stronger than nurture.

Cooper is ready for the Canine Good Citizen test.

January 18, 2012


We made a brief appearance for Community Resource Night at Communication Innovations prior to session two of Teenager Class at The Dog Den. It was an opportunity to provide information on Custom Canines to potential clients and to discuss the benefits of puppy raising. Our canine companion, Cooper, was on his best behavior and resisted the tempting treats displayed at eye-level. He was allowed one carrot for good behavior, which he ate very slowly.

We have been lax in our training this past week, so I wasn't sure how Cooper would respond during session two. Whether it was better rewards or the added pressure of having four trainers, he did better than last week. He still will DOWN very slowly. We formally introduced the LEAVE IT command and started work on recalls, which his does very slowly. With the Austins attending training classes, next week we may drop Cooper off, skip class, and grab dinner/dessert.

January 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Cooper

Cooper turned six months old today; his puppy permit has expired. The gift that we picked up for him yesterday was a set of Badger basketball tickets. He probably would have preferred the cardboard roll from the paper towels. The tickets actually allowed us to further his training. Cooper's prospective family loves basketball, so it was a chance to introduce him to the sport.

Having been to the Kohl Center on numerous occasion, we didn't expect any issues, however, there were a few new challenges. Initially, he did not like walking on the metal stairs and walkway to get to our row four seats. Being in the lower level the horn was much louder. Cooper was startled/surprised the first time, but barely noticed it the rest of the game.

As you can imagine, the view is pretty much the same regardless of the sport. Today offered one new test. He spent the entire game lying beside some leftover nacho cheese sauce. I don't recall if we even had to tell him "No". At halftime, we also walked through split popcorn and he never flinched.

As a birthday treat, I gave him a frozen chicken leg.

January 14, 2012

Puppy Wrangling

Friday evening, we attended the Custom Canine Howliday Party. Cooper's behavior was excellent given the food, children, and canine distractions. We even attempted a few STAYs which he did perfect. The most difficult STAY occurred after the group photo.

The highlight of every event is the Puppy Wrangling photo. The group tries to get a photo of all the puppies, without handlers. It is a good test of their obedience and our patience. Cooper did well, but none of the photos did. Believe it or not there was always something moving. Next time, a movie showing the process would be more entertaining.

Saturday is reserved for puppy play time at the Dog Den. Most of the dogs from our Teenager Class were in attendance. It was nice to see them being dogs. We watch while Cooper visits each and every dog. Eventually he paired up with a Pit Bull puppy and they spent the duration of class sparring. The staff at the Dog Den do a great job refereeing and explaining proper play to the owners - biting and barking are not always bad.

After playgroup, we stopped to pick up Cooper's birthday present and we spent some time with Mac and Griff. The three youngsters enjoyed running through the snow and sliding into the snow. Even Cooper made a trip down the slide. Every time one of his boys would slide, Cooper heard the noise and went running to greet them (another movie opportunity).

The remainder of the day was spent visiting Lisa's mother in the Platteville Hospital. It was a challenge for Cooper to be quiet in this setting. He did have a surprising reaction in this elevator. He has been in many previously with no reaction, but this one must have vibrated differently because Cooper hit the floor. The fastest we have ever seen him DOWN. So, we took the opportunity to ride this elevator and provide positive reinforcement (food)to work through it. After five or so trips up and down he was comfortable.

January 12, 2012

Back at Silly Yak

The arrival of Winter would not keep Cooper from visiting his pals at the Silly Yak and supporting this month's non-profit. In between my shoveling and playing in the snow, we made the trip into Madison to pick up a couple loaves of bread and some jalapeno poppers. In fact our stop was so short that we forgot to pick up a supply of Bear's Bones.

January 11, 2012

Down Resistant

Last night we officially, unofficially began Cooper's transition to Mac and family. The family patriarch, Russ, attended session one of Teenager Class at the Dog Den to prepare for his role as pack leader. It was a brand new group of puppies, so our charge was highly distracted. Other canines trigger his crying game and he exhibited a higher than usual Down Resistance. Russ worked through it and eventually Cooper quickened his response.

Just to be clear, Cooper is no where near ready for placement. He still has a lot of work to do in order to pass the Canine Good Citizen and Public Access tests. Our plan is to engage his future family in the training process to establish a bond and facilitate the transition. There is a huge risk in employing this approach; if an issue develops, we could all get our hearts broken. All we can do is keep working hard, cross your fingers, and pray.

We would like to thank Griff for the picture of Cooper that decorates our refrigerator.

January 8, 2012

Kohl Day

On Friday, we tried a different feeding technique. I wanted to teach patience and identify any potential food aggression issues. With both dogs seated in front of me, I put a third cup of food in a bowl and let Monte eat while Cooper waited. Then it was Cooper's turn. He received a third cup while Monte watched. It was similar to hand feeding each without the slime. Each doge received theit two cups of food without issue.

With Lisa away taking care of her mom, Cooper and I had some alone time on Saturday. Our first stop was the Dog Den for playtime. There were some older dogs at the Teenager playgroup to teach him some manners - relax and no licking. The puppy group had more energy; Copper wrestled with a Boxer and attempted to get four year old to chase him. After splitting the Teenager and Puppy playgroup, we had some shopping to do.

Never sure how a puppy will react in different situations, it is always better to have two people. Being on a solo mission, I was hoping for and received exemplary behavior. He relieved on command. He waited to cross traffic lanes. He walked by my side on a loose leash, which was greatly appreciated as I eschewed a cart and at one time was carrying a printer, lamp, toaster. He was rewarded for his good behavior with some chew toys.

The Kohl Center was our home for the next twenty-four hours. Cooper attended men's hockey game and a women's hockey clinic. We waited him out before each event to ensure no accidents. The hockey game was routine. The most interesting part is hearing from the other fans that have watched Cooper grow up. Apparently he has grown and matured a lot since the last game (12/10); he didn't have any hesitation at the stairways.

Our goddaughters attend a hockey clinic each year and it provides a unique training experience for a puppy. Cooper spent half the session in the front row watching all the activity. He was much more relaxed than Monte was last year. It also provides an opportunity to share our puppy with college students/athletes who are away from home and miss their family dog. Cooper enjoyed the extra special attention.

January 5, 2012

Almost Perfect Weather

Both dogs went to CCSDA training class on Wednesday. As expected Monte did well with the basic obedience (STAY, recalls) and was quiet during class - no crying. He doesn't get as much practice with Greetings and it showed. He was very interested meeting new friends. We confirmed a few areas where we need to step up our training efforts. We are transitioning from the WAIT command to the STAY command. He has a very lazy DOWN and a slow recall. However, the worst was his whining and crying during class. It doesn't happen often or as prolonged in everyday life, so we think it was because he wanted to play with the other dogs.

Today we practiced STAYs before Cooper made a trip to visit his pal Mac for some more "kid training." They played hide and seek indoors before heading outside to enjoy the Spring-like weather. They played fetch until both child and puppy were tired - not sure who did more running. Inside Mac practiced the feeding routine with Cooper and the tandem rested while the adults discussed options/thoughts for Cooper's transition.

With the record breaking temperature, 51 degrees, theoretically it seemed like a perfect day to take the dogs to the park: let them be dogs and burn off some energy. We were not the only ones thinking this because there were at least twenty other dogs to play with. However, the reality was not so perfect. Due to the warm weather, the ice was melted and the ground was soft which doesn't mix well with running Yellow Labradors. Cooper met a girl on the path and she noted that he looked more like a Dalmatian. Needless to say everyone got a bath before dinner was served.

January 1, 2012

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Monte spent Saturday with his pals Buddy, Sable, and Kane while Cooper traveled to Tomah. Again, I think Monte got the better end of the deal. He went to the pet store in the morning and spent the rest of the day playing with his new Jolly Ball, which his aunt and uncle bought for him. Thank You!!

We loaded up the car and Cooper boarded without pause and he was DOWN before the car left the driveway. We attended our preliminary hockey event of the day, watching Avery and Alexis play. He was more interested in Sawyer and the other children moving about the bleachers. We found another surface that made him uncomfortable, unstable metal ramp, which will require additional exposure.

Sawyer ponders, "What is it about sleeping dogs?"

Sawyer remembers, "Wrestle Sleeping Dogs."

Yes, Cooper practiced being calm and relaxed in the children's environment. He obviously has this down. Either the nap on the ride home or seeing canine buddies recharged his batteries because he was anything but calm and relaxed when we picked up Monte. It must have been the dogs; he was his lazy/relaxed self at the Badger hockey game. The Kohl Center was only half full, so we experimented with different seat locations.

Our seats our in a front row which provides extra room and fewer distractions. In normal seats, the challenge is to get our canine companion to rest at our feet without disturbing those directly in front of us. I think we could have done this, however, the fans in front of us wanted to greet Cooper and they encouraged being excited and giving kisses. We gave in and settled him back down after an initial frenzy. Cooper never bothered them again, even though they were head-to-head.