Meet super clever shih tzu Cooper who can count, recognise shapes and sort colours.

Owner Kirsty Forrester, 28, noticed her two-year-old shih tzu dog Cooper's natural aptitude for learning new skills after she taught him to stick his tongue out on command at just three months old.

She took him to a dog training school and staff were so impressed they gave him "extra homework".

Cooper

Now Cooper has been signed up to a talent agency where he impresses people with his ability to solve simple mathematical problems.

His skill levels have been estimated as being equivalent to an 18-month-old human child.

Miss Forrester, from Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, said: "He loves being challenged, so as well as physical exercise I give him mental exercise.

"People call him a genius and I take that as a compliment.

"He can do challenges aimed at two-year-olds.”

Miss Forrester has trained her dog to perform tasks such as sorting toys by colour and shape with his mouth.

He can also count treats and recognise numbers.

Even more surprisingly, a psycho neurological researcher who ranked the intelligence of all dog breeds placed shih tzus at number 70 out of 80 breeds.

The web developer said: "They're usually seen as being really stupid and they have a reputation as a handbag dog.
"That's why dog trainers are so surprised by his intelligence."

Miss Forrester has owned Cooper since August 2013, when she bought him from a shih tzu breeder in Blackpool.

Cooper

She said: "I'd been choosing what kind of dog I wanted. I liked that shih tzus are small and fluffy so I went to a breeder and he caught my eye.

"He loved being cuddled and fell asleep in my arms.”

Miss Forrester started training her pup immediately to make sure he was well behaved.

She said: "I took him to puppy training for him to learn the basics. It was teaching him to sit, lie down and stay.

"I noticed immediately he was special as he was able to do them so quickly. Cooper was so intelligent he was given extra homework."

Miss Forrester noticed Cooper like to stick his tongue out.

First tricks at three months old 

She said: "I taught him to stick it out on command using treats. When we showed them at the class everyone was amazed. He was only four months old.

"The trainers even asked to video him. They sent it to their friends as it was unheard of. He is doing similar exercises to children at playschool."

In November 2013, Miss Forrester bought a shape sorter for Cooper to play with from Early Learning Centre, usually used to help toddlers to learn to recognise shapes.

She said: "He loved putting treats in my shoes, so I taught him to put his toys in the box.

"I just wondered what else he could do. I started with a shape sorter with only two shapes. He cracked it within days.

"I gave him a treat after he put the correct shape in the hole."

She then decided to see if he would be able to count.

She said: "I've managed to get him to count to three. He can count out three treats and even recognise numbers. I say the number and he goes and sits on that numbered tile on the floor."

A University of Lincoln study suggested dogs have the ability to count.

[Related story: Clever cat plays Jenga]

During the study, a dog was shown a single treat and a screen placed in front of it.

The dog watched as another treat was then placed behind the screen.

Sometimes when the screen was raised one of the treats was removed leaving only one.

The dog stared at this unexpected outcome for longer than when the sum was correct, suggesting it was surprised.

Cooper can also sort objects into their colour.

He can also now use a shape sorter with six different shapes.

He can also "shoot hoops" with a ball through a basketball net.

Miss Forrester shows other people how to train their dogs to perform her tasks.

[Related story: 5 clever cockatoos who will put your dancing skills to shame]

She said: "It really depends on the dog. Cooper is so curious and he just loves being challenged."

In 2012, a dog in China became a viral hit after a video emerged of him counting to 10.

The dog was able to solve sums by answering with the correct number of taps on a bell.

Videos of Cooper’s tricks are a hit on YouTube with his shape-sorting clips getting more than 350,000 views.

Cooper has also recently signed to canine talent agency Urban Paws.

But Miss Forrester has also received negative comments.

She said: "Some people tell me, 'He shouldn't be doing this’.

"They think I'm making him do it, but this is just mental exercise for him. And he loves it."

Do you have a clever pet? Tell us about him/her in the Comments below.