Monday, June 25, 2012

Cooper's Evaluation and Next Steps

Notes by Dulce Garcia, CPDT-KA


Cooper has been kenneled for almost a year and we have little information about him. Therefore an evaluation was crucial in pointing out what further steps to take with him. I evaluated Cooper's temperament through SAFER® Aggression Assessment created by Dr. Emily Weiss. “ASPCA SAFER® Aggression Assessment is a predictive, consistent method for evaluating the probability of canine aggression in individual dogs. The seven item assessment generally takes no more than 10 minutes per dog to complete.” (

After tallying up the results, Cooper didn’t display any aggression signs and will be under a behavior modification and management program to address his jumping up at strangers and mouthing. He enjoys the company of people and becomes excited to greet them but he needs to be taught what is appropriate and what is not. Unfortunately, Cooper’s behaviors have been accidentally reinforced and may have gotten worse by being confined in a kennel with little opportunity to interact appropriately with people. He has accidentally learned that the only way to get a person’s attention is by jumping up at them to say hello. He displays no food/toy aggression and doesn't mind being touched. He does have a lot of energy and this can make any beginner dog walkers uncomfortable. Considering that perhaps he may have been a bait dog in his past explains his fear-related issues when it comes to other pushy male dogs.

The evaluation will help us place Cooper in the appropriate home and furthermore assists us in matching him with the right family. It also gives us added insight into any manageable behavior concerns that can we can work on while he is waiting for a forever home. It will provide staff and volunteers with information about Cooper’s personality.

Next Steps For Volunteers and Staff

Sit and Release: Cooper knows how to sit on command and can stay up to 20 seconds before being released. I want to encourage anyone who interacts with him to ask him to sit at any doors before placing his leash and when out in the yard playing. He has picked up on sitting when a person approaches or when he is called.

Name Recognition/Recall: It is important that Cooper learns his name so that when he is called he can come reliably. As he improves, I will teach him “Watch Me” when a dog or any other distraction is nearby. To learn how to teach a dog to come when called read my blog post, Recall Game.

 Dog to Dog interactions: I encourage that Cooper be kept solitary from other dogs on walks and social time. The goal is to give him positive experiences around other dogs. He is comfortable around female dogs it would be best for him to hang out on his own so that he doesn’t get caught up in a bad situation. We want to set him up for success. He had gone unaltered for quite some time (he was neutered recently) so being around male dogs is not recommended. He will ignore them at times, but can become stressed when a pushy dog is in his face.

Mouthing: Anytime Cooper mouths (puts his mouth on any of your body parts) don’t give him any attention for it. Just end any interactions with him and go away. He will learn that anytime he engages in mouthing the fun ends. Instead, give him toys to play with or practice sits.

These small things can help save Cooper’s life and teach him life skills to cope out in the real world. These are just basic concepts and will change as Cooper improves. I will give a demo and put together information for interacting appropriately with him to help him succeed. Video clips will also be provided so that you may view his progress. If you are interested in assisting me with Cooper, send me an email at and I will give you tips and pointers for working with him.

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