Posts filed under ‘Events’

Boogie at The Boston Tea Party

I said we weren’t going to the annual Boston Tea Party, but at the very last minute, we changed our minds…

Temecula is about 2 hours away and by the time we arrived, it was almost closing time so perhaps there were less boston terriers present than there must’ve been earlier in the day.

Two years ago, at the 2009 Boston Tea Party, Boogie lunged and snapped at every single dog that came near him.  Last year’s Boston Tea Party, I went alone and didn’t bring him. As part of his training protocol, we avoided ALL unfamiliar dogs as it would’ve been too stressful for him to be around hundreds of dogs.

This year, I could not believe the difference. Not only were Boogie and Popeye FRIENDS again (see previous blog post), Boogie greeted and sniffed lots of other bostons, and remained calm and happy all day.  If he looked a little stiff during greetings, I called him away and everything was fine. It was a fun and social event for both humans and dogs, and I could not have been happier and more proud of  the Boogs!

Pic of Boogie standing next to a little boston girl (I don’t know who she is).

It was a really hot day and all the dogs were panting. Here’s a photo that I love of Boogie, Rosie and Popeye sharing water. Three tongues in one bottle cap! 🙂

October 23, 2011 at 11:29 pm 2 comments

Book signing in San Diego, Boogie’s Sleepover…

This past weekend was the APDT conference in San Diego and thanks to Grisha Stewart, I was able to attend the exhibit hall/book signing part of the event. It was so great to meet Grisha in person at last!  I also met up with Dr. Sophia Yin and visited the fantabulous Cat’s House.

There were many vendors in the APDT exhibit hall and some were giving away free treats and toys… an offer that I couldn’t refuse. See the Little Jacs treats? They are really really disgustingly smell-won’t-easily-wash-off-your-hands-STINKY and Boogie loves them.

I received a sample Thundershirt (not sure yet when I would put this on Boogie who can sleep through alarm clocks, thunderstorms and earthquakes…)  from a lovely lady whose name I can’t remember, and I bought a new Freedom Leash and Harness combo at a very discounted price. It was also lovely to meet up with Dorna Sakurai for whom I have done some illustration work.

While I was away Boogie slept over with his buddies, Rosie and Popeye for the first time.  You can see videos from their last play date in this flickr set.

(instructions inside the card)

According to Rosie’s and Popeye’s parents, the dogs had a wonderful time, there was a lot of playing, no issues with walks around the neighborhood, Boogie was well-behaved and did not bug Cosmo the cat. (Whew) The boys in particular – Boogie and Popeye – hit it off and became best mates.

Well, everything was fine and dandy until I arrived back in LA to pick Boogie up.

There we all were in the yard. The excitement level was high, the dogs were running around, a tennis ball was thrown, the humans were chatting… and suddenly Popeye and Boogie were locked in a fight. We weren’t sure how the fight started exactly because none of us were paying attention. Popeye’s dad and I struggled to pull the dogs apart. Both dogs held onto to each other very tightly with their sharp teeth.

And then we were washing and bandaging bite wounds and an hour later, Boogie was at the emergency vet getting his leg wounds stapled. Popeye too had to have his paw injury drained and wear the cone of shame.

Yeah, tough guys. What did they learn from this? Probably nothing good.

And my wallet is hurting.

Popeye and the Boogs are healing up now. Boogie is on antibiotics and Rimadil and thankfully no longer limping nor showing any signs of  reactivity toward strange dogs on our walks like after the last time he got into a dog fight. In 2 weeks, the staples will be removed and hopefully soon, when both dogs are completely physically healed they can meet and play again.

I was chatting to Sarah our trainer about this fight incident and she brought up Trigger Stacking. In the BAT book, there’s an illustration about Trigger Stacking which basically means that when a dog has a bunch of stressful experiences, all the stresses add up in his system and he suddenly blows a fuse (or  reaches his “Bite/Reactivity Threshold”). It is not ONE thing that starts a fight, but several things added up over a short period of time and as a result the outburst may seen unpredictable or over-the-top when it really isn’t.

In this case, the easiest assumption  to make is that the dogs fought because both wanted possession of the tennis ball (which was being thrown for the first time all weekend) , but it could have also been that a couple of minutes earlier, two German shepherds had walked past the front gate and  triggered raised hackles on both Boogie and Popeye. And a little time before this,  I (Boogie’s mom) had arrived which is what started all the excitement in the first place. Perhaps the tennis ball was the last straw rather than the primary cause in the context of two toy-possessive macho boys with short fuses (aka “low reactivity thresholds”).

* When Boogie and Rosie were playing fetch with the tennis ball , there were no issues. Rosie is really sweet and flirty and gives in to the boys.

The major lesson that I am re-learning here is that it is not safe to play fetch with Boogie when there are other dogs present AND I need to do some sort of “impulse control training” with him (not clear yet what this should be) so that he is less toy-obsessed and will learn to nicely share his toys….

Unfortunately due to this incident we won’t be going to the Boston Buddies’ Boston Tea Party tomorrow. Which is a shame because I wanted to bid on the silent auction’s  “Boogie On Ukelele” tote and grab a copy of the new calendar.

Look, the munchkins are on the cover! 🙂

Link: Here are more photos from Boogie’s Sleepover

October 21, 2011 at 7:31 pm 4 comments

Notes from ClickerExpo (Friday)

This was my very first time at a ClickerExpo – a major annual animal training event – and my brain has been bursting with information and new ideas for Dog Training-related drawings!

For those who want a short and clear summary of what Clicker Training is, here’s one good article.

Sarah our trainer was there and I met some really nice people. To my Doggie Drawings clients and Boogie’s blog readers, you were probably there too and if I had known what you look like, I would’ve said hello!

It was so great to be at an event with dogs present. I didn’t bring Boogie because, as you know… he’s a reactive fella, and he would’ve been insanely bored during the seminars 🙂

Many of the seminars that I was interested in were scheduled at the same times so it was hard to decide which one to go to.  If time and money were no object (and if I didn’t miss Boogie too much) I would have registered for the full three days and spent the weekend at Newport Beach.

Karen Pryor : Opening speech.

It was such a blast to see and hear  Karen Pryor in person. I loved her book “Reaching The Animal Mind” which is what inspired me to learn about clicker training in the first place. 

Karen showed a video of a clicker-trained rhino doing a SIT, DOWN and ROLL OVER (!)- which was a great example of training without the use of physical contact or force …not something that you can do anyway with animals way larger and deadlier than the average reactive dog.  The thing that fascinates me so much about Clicker Training is the claim that it works for ALL animals… wild ones, tame ones, zoo animals, farm animals, and even your regular household fish.

This kit was sold at the ClickerExpo store.

Seminar 1: Cecelie Koste – CLICKERTRAINING 101

As much as I wanted to sit in on Ken Ramirez’s talk on “Aggression” which everyone was raving about afterwards, I am really glad I chose Cecelie Koste’s Foundation Level seminar  because…wow,  I finally understand the language that dog trainers use!!! Cecelie was very clear in explaining all the concepts of Operant Conditioning, and how these apply to the Clicker Training methodology. I loved the video examples and I took a ton of notes, which I will eventually re-share on this blog as drawings.

First, Cecelie explained the difference between Classical Conditioning (developed by Pavlov, for changing emotions) and Operant Conditioning (developed by Skinner for changing behaviors). The latter is what Clicker Training is based on.

There are some Operant Conditioning concepts that I have always struggled with, and I know that I am not alone. Whenever trainers mention the terms Positive Reinforcement, Positive Punishment, Negative Reinforcement, and Negative Punishment as the Four Quadrants of Operant Conditioning,  it is SO HARD not to think of “Positive” as meaning “Good” and “Negative” as meaning “Bad”, when these are really abstract terms that refer to the act of  “Adding something”(+) or “Subtracting something”(-) in the training process.  Similarly, the term “Punishment” means “decreasing a behavior” and not the act of doing something nasty.

A lightbulb went off in my head yesterday morning. The way I understand it now is that these consequences WORK IN TANDEM, AS PAIRS.

The way Cecelie explained it, Positive Reinforcement works in tandem with Negative Punishment, and Positive Punishment works in tandem with Negative Reinforcement. Personally, I don’t get why they still have to be thought of as “quadrants”… It’s easier to remember them as twosomes.

Cecelie Koste:

Positive (+)  Reinforcement = Adding GOOD STUFF that your dog will work for. Treats, praise, petting, toys, sniffing, etc. to increase a behavior.
Negative (-) Punishment = Removing or Delaying the GOOD STUFF (treats, praise, petting etc) to decrease a behavior. Like a “Time Out”

Positive (+) Punishment = Adding BAD STUFF like shocks, pinches, leash pops, scolding etc to decrease a behavior.
Negative (-) Reinforcement: = Delaying or Escaping the BAD STUFF (shocks, leash pops, scolding etc)  to increase a behavior. Like a “Warning”

Furthermore, here’s what I picked up — there are always TWO BEHAVIORS  going on at the same time if one is being reinforced and one is being punished.

[click on picture to see it larger]

Even though this all seems like common sense from my own varied training experiences with Boogie, it is interesting to get a scientific breakdown.

With the +R/-P training – the dog walks on loose leash because he gets to move forward and get paid with food. With the +P/-R training – the dog walks on loose leash because he is avoiding having his neck choked. The first pair of consequences +R/-P is what Clicker Training is about and  has been proven to be much more effective than +P/-R because the dog remains happy, un-stressed, and eager to learn.

Cecelie talked about the concepts of Extinction and Variable Schedule of Reinforcement and how it contributes to Shaping new behaviors.  Other concepts covered: PRIMARY & SECONDARY REINFORCERS, HULL’s DRIVE THEORY, THE PREMACK PRINCIPLE, CUES, why BACKCHAINING is more effective than FORWARD CHAINING (Boogie and I have done some backchaining work with Sarah – scroll down). Like I said, more food for thought –> more ideas for illustrations! 🙂

Seminar 2: Kathy Sdao – On SHAPING

Kathy Sdao is such an amazing, enthusiastic, passionate and entertaining speaker! Never a dull moment. I have watched some of her DVD seminars but this live presentation was so much better. Quotes and notes to follow.

The ABC of training:  Antecendent –> Behavior –> Consequence

“We can’t manipulate behavior directly. We can manipulate events just before (Antecedents) and just after (Consequences) a behavior.”

“The most fundamental law of behavior is that Consequences drive Behavior”. Which I guess is like saying that we work in order to get paid, not because we were asked to. Or that Boogie barks at the mailman not because of anything the mailman did, but because the barking *causes* the mailman to go away. I can see that this applies to the BAT work that Boogie and I have been doing, where the “consequences” = “functional rewards”.

99% of “Stubbornness” is trained. Clicker training gives the animal a sense of AGENCY. “I made her click!”. It teaches animals that they have control, they can change their world.

“Shaping is the heart and soul of clicker training”.

Prerequisites for Shaping behavior:
1. Clear goal behavior, visually and verbally.
2. What is the 1st criterion that is clickable? Choose something that he already does.
3. Ability to SEE.
4. Click-Treat mechanical skills… click precisely, and click often.
5. Click MOVEMENT. “The Dead Dog Rule”: don’t click non-behavior (eg, silence or stillness)
6. A hungry and confident animal
7. Very small delicious treats

Kathy demonstrated a Shaping/targeting exercise with a dog in the audience (she placed a bottle down on the floor in front of the dog) and it was kinda funny to see this little pup Olivia do some of  the same stuff that Boogie does. Several times, Olivia sat down and waited for the treat instead of moving forward to offer new behaviors. (Yay! My dog is not a freak!) I loved that Kathy explained what her own mistakes were in this exercise, which shows that even a veteran master animal trainer isn’t perfect. 🙂

Seminar 3: Kay Laurence – On MICROSHAPING

I had registered myself for a Learning Labs Workshop with Kathy Sdao to see real live dogs being shaped but at the last minute I changed my mind and attended Kay Laurence’s seminar instead… mainly because I was curious to get another perspective on the same subject.

Kay was very impressive and funny (very dry British humor) and had very strong opinions on the Ethics of dog training.

Training should be Learner-Centric, not Behavior-Centric.” ie, just because you can train it doesn’t mean you should. Kay Laurence is not a fan of YouTube videos of dogs trained to walk on their two front legs. “Shaping is working with a natural movement, not teaching an unnatural one”. (I wonder if she is referring to Neo and Tuxedo…) Kay believes that a lot of training is done for the trainer’s ego or with no respect for the animal.  One example being female animals who are trained to stand perfectly still for breeding purposes… 😦

She is also not a fan of the “101 things with a box” game or “freeshaping” because it lessens the effectiveness of teaching precise behaviors and causes confusion for the dogs.

A lot of the  stuff she talked about was perhaps too advanced for me…  Most of the technical details went way over my head and perhaps are more relevant to dog owners who do Obedience competitions and have to get very precise “beautiful” behaviors from their dogs.

“Shaping is 90% planning and 10% training”. *Yep, the planning part is the hardest for me!

It is better to do 10 x 1 minute sessions, than 1 x 10 minute session. There has to be a clear agenda for each session.

You want a high 95% success rate. “Success is measured by the rate of reinforcement not the speed at which the final behavior is achieved”. The dog is reinforced frequently, for tiny increments of improvement.

From what I understand, Kay’s “Microshaping” method is not so much about shaping or clicking the outcomes. (eg, dog touches ball) It focuses on shaping the micromovements –  accurate, refined muscle movements (dog lifts paw) so that the dog is very clear on what he is doing and you get high quality behaviors.  She showed a few videos where a dog was clicked for repeatedly moving his paw to a specific position. And then she added the target object in the same place where his paw would go and clicked the dog for putting his paw on the object. A different protocol from the one where you first present the target object in front of the dog, then click his movements towards it.. as Kathy Sdao had done. (Sarah and I have done something similar with Boogie)

She also showed videos of a dog standing on dome-things (targets) and pointed out the different muscles moving on the dog’s body when she changed the positions of the targets. Whoa. I guess one would need a really expert understanding of a dog’s physiology and natural movement patterns to train this way.

Kay Laurence:  “Some people taste a dish and know how to cook it. I can look at a behavior and know how to teach it.”

All in all, that was a fantastic learning experience, and if money were no object next year, I would do it again!

January 24, 2011 at 3:49 am 21 comments

Two events: ClickerExpo & The Boston Tea Party

*Update: I have registered for one day of Clicker Expo! I’ll be there on Friday! *


The more I learn about clicker training, the more I want to experience the magic of clicker training in action, in real life …not only on YouTube, and not only with Boogie (who is sort of at beginner level and can’t do complex behaviors)

I found this video of last year’s ClickerExpo on YouTube. Wow.

The next Clicker Expo is in January 2011, Newport Beach and I would love to go…  Unfortunately for this novice aficionado,  the $369  fee to attend the full 3 day event is ridiculously high. The  minimum price of $240 to attend one day is still expensive.

$240…I could buy 2 pairs of shoes or spend 1 night at The Madonna Inn.

Looking at the big picture, I think that attending the ClickerExpo would help me (and Boogie!) make better choices in life,  so please help me raise the funds by commissioning a portrait of your dog!😉

I think I will attend Day 1: Friday because there are more Foundation Level seminars…

I am interested in:

Aarrgh. Overlaps!!!

Who is going to ClickerExpo next year?


Another event that I am excited about is the Boston Tea Party.

This year’s event is hosted by two rescue groups –  Boston Buddies and Boston Brigade – and will take place in Temecula, wherever this is…

Boogie and I will be there!!! This is a free fundraiser meet-up event and there will be hundreds of boston terriers and their people. I can’t wait to meet Chopper the Biker Dog.

Here is the Facebook event page.

The Tea Party logo is a collaboration between the talented Brian Rubenacker and myself and you can buy it on t shirts!  $20 each

Last but not least, here are some cute photos of Boogie and Butch (Christa’s). Nothing like a good treat to get these little doggies to sit patiently and pout at camera.

September 3, 2010 at 5:30 am 11 comments

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