Posts filed under ‘Outdoors’

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

Boogie’s play date with Rosie & Popeye

Yesterday was Boogie’s third play date with his girlfriend Rosie

… and her newly adopted brother  Popeye, a very sweet and goofy red boston terrier.

Things could not have gone better! First we went for a walk around the block, then back in my friends’ newly-fenced yard, the dogs played and played and played.

*Sorry about the noise in the video; you may want to turn down/mute the sound.*

I had never seen Boogie play with a “boy dog” before so this was really cool.  When Boogie and Rosie play, they like to chase each other. With Popeye, there was lots of mouthing, wrestling and rolling about on the ground.  🙂

Two videos:

It was an afternoon of very happy dogs and EXTREME cuteness!

More photos and (blurry) video clips in my flickr set HERE.

July 31, 2011 at 5:55 pm 3 comments

In search of a private fenced yard…

Here is a photo of Boogie and Franklin from Monday’s session with trainer Irith Bloom, taken in a peaceful Huntington Palisades neighborhood.

Franklin is a very sweet and calm English Shepherd so he was the perfect “big dog” for Boogie to hang out and do parallel walking with. The funny thing is that as soon as Boogie and Franklin saw each other from a fair distance, both dogs started whining. Boogie whimpered and looked at me and pulled towards Franklin. The dogs recognized each other from their BAT session five months ago! 🙂

Boogie walks beautifully on loose-leash in my neighborhood, but because this was a new and exciting location, he was pulling like crazy. The technique of “standing still like a tree” didn’t work because Boogie kept leaning and pulling forwards regardless. Irith gave me some tips on how to deal with this problem, eg – keep my leash hand at my bellybutton, do a 180 and boldy walk forward as if there is no dog behind me until Boogie catches up on loose-leash. I did this a few times on our walk and after a while Boogie became more mindful of my existence and kept the leash loose-ish between us.

Memo to self: In a new environment, go back to training the basics.

So… as I was saying to Irith, I find these “friendly doggie sessions” so good for Boogie. I notice that whenever we have a friendly and polite experience with another dog, the following day Boogie does not react to any dogs that he sees on the street. He looks at them, turns away and moves along like it’s no big deal. He is the same after every play date with Rosie. He is more relaxed around dogs in general…

It’s a shame that Huntington Palisades is so far away from me. And Rosie also lives really far away.

I would like to do more BAT set ups with unfamiliar dogs as decoys but we need to borrow a private fenced yard — with no other dogs present –preferably in the La Brea/Fairfax area of West Hollywood. The parks are too risky with loose dogs running around.

Fenced yard, anyone?

November 30, 2010 at 9:37 pm 3 comments

Off-leash dogs!!! Argh.

Why is it that whenever an off-leash dog runs towards us, the owner always says  to us –  “Don’t worry! He is friendly!”?

I hate that. The reply I have in my head is usually “Your dog is not friendly. He very impolitely charged at us”.

But instead, what comes out of my mouth is a hurried attempt to explain that my dog is in training for his reactivity blah blah blah… and that even though the off-leash dog may be friendly, MY dog isn’t and he may lunge or bite when rushed at by an unfamiliar dog, so please for goodness sake, keep your dog away from mine.  I hate that Boogie is made to look like the bad guy but how do you explain to a stranger that their lovable excitable dog was displaying extreme rudeness and NOT friendly behavior? And besides, why the heck was their dog off-leash in a public place?

[Here’s a YouTube video showing “Polite Dog Greetings” – with calming signals]

Friends have already heard all about the traumatic incident that Boogie and I experienced a few days ago…

I was walking Boogie along the street on Tuesday morning when I spotted an off-leash dog on the opposite side of the street. My instinctual response was to get away ASAP so I called Boogie “Let’s go!” and started running. I realize later that this was a mistake on my part. I should not have run. I should have picked Boogie up but in that moment of panic my only thought was – we need to get away fast. To my horror, the off-leash dog bounded across the street towards us and started chasing us. She was a large dog – black and white markings – perhaps a pit mix. She didn’t look aggressive but she was fast and before you know it, Boogie and this dog were locked in a vicious fight.

Everything was a blur of violence. All I remember is wrestling on the ground with two growly dogs and seeing Boogie’s neck gripped in the other dog’s jaw. I yelled and punched the other dog in the muzzle but she would not let go. The street was deserted and no owner came to claim their dog in spite of my yelling –  “SOMEBODY COME AND GET THIS DOG AWAY FROM ME!!!” I was cussing and screaming, punching and pulling for what felt like an eternity. The dog did not let go of Boogie’s neck and I seriously thought that Boogie was going to die. I kept punching this dog trying to pull her jaw open and I felt a tooth sink into my finger.  The pain was intense but all I could think of was that I had to save Boogie.

Finally, a guy appeared on the street and led the other dog away back into her yard. He said that the dog’s owner wasn’t home and the dog must have got out because the gate was open. Other neighbors emerged from their houses to enquire what was going on because I guess they had heard me screaming and yelling.  Boogie and I were there on the sidewalk covered in blood. “But that dog is friendly”… they said. Hell no. Just take a look at us.

One of the neighbors (a nurse) took me into her house and cleaned us up. After that, we spent the rest of the day at the Emergency vet and doctor’s office.  I think Boogie was probably more traumatised by the four hour vet hospital experience and the cone-of-shame than by the actual dog fight.

We are both fine now but what an experience. Not to mention that this incident is a major setback in all the training that I’ve been doing with Boogie for the past 12 months.

This is the THIRD TIME that Boogie has been injured by an off-leash dog. 😦

I met with the owner of the other dog. He was very apologetic, agreed to get his gate fixed so that this won’t happen again, compensated us for the medical bills and he wishes that his dog and Boogie could have met properly and not under such circumstances because his dog is  “super friendly”. Perhaps they will meet again… and we may do some BAT work with the two dogs… but for now, it’s back to square one with Boogie’s training. He has been extra trigger-sensitive these past couple of days, and his wounds are still healing…

As I was saying to Sarah, we are fortunate that the bite wounds are not deep (compared to one attack by a truly aggressive dog which led to stitches). It is possible that Boogie lashed out first when the dog rushed at him and that this dog was merely defending herself by gripping onto Boogie’s neck for so long and refusing to let go.  Dogs have amazing control with their teeth. If this dog (who, incidentally had zero injuries) was truly aggressive and had seriously intended to mess Boogie up, the wounds would have been much worse.

As for me, the bite on my finger is getting better but my knees and legs are scraped, bruised and painful. Boogie and I are both on antibiotics and we plan to take things easy this week.

Now for some comic relief …  Check out this awesome hilarious blog post on the power of the SQUEAKY TOY.

Boogie will be getting a new squeaky rubber monkey this week.

November 20, 2010 at 10:45 am 12 comments

Boogie and Rosie Playdate #2!

Photos taken from Jen’s flickr set and mine.

Run run run!

A moment of water and rest.

Rosie kisses.


One photo I wish I had taken was when Rosie picked up Boogie’s leash and pulled him towards her!

Link: Boogie and Rosie Playdate #1

July 19, 2010 at 5:15 am 5 comments

The Premack Principle (Boogie’s leash-pulling)

The Premack Principle: It states that for any two behaviors, the one that’s more likely (or that your dog prefers) can reinforce, or strengthen, the one that’s less likely (and that you might prefer). Instead of trying to get our dogs to ignore whatever excites and distracts them, we can use those excitements and distractions as rewards.

I have read about The Premack Principle and watched several YouTube videos but on Tuesday for the first time I had some hands-on experience with Sarah showing me how to use it when Boogie becomes fixated on something and pulls on the leash.The high distraction environment that we were in – Cheviot Park – was perfect for this exercise because Boogie was pulling me all over the place. The smell of squirrel was everywhere.

And so it goes that the more often that I let Boogie ignore me, the more that I am enabling his “bad behavior” and he’ll just continue to blow me off whenever he feels like it. Scolding or dragging Boogie away on the leash does not solve the problem.

So here’s the new protocol:

  • When Boogie pulls, note where he wants to go.
  • STOP. Stand still. Do not let myself be pulled forwards.
  • WAIT. As soon as he turns around and checks in with me, I mark with a YES! (I then say “OK!” as the release cue)
  • …And I let him go where he wants to go.

My questions:

Q: What if Boogie doesn’t turn around to check with me? What if he remains frozen or locked in that pulling forward position and won’t respond at all?
A: Initially we wait to mark the smallest behaviors, like an ear flick, or even if he turns his body slightly. We don’t expect a full head turn or eye contact straight away. This “splitting of behaviors into small steps” is a key feature of the Clicker Training process.

Q: What if, 5 minutes later, Boogie still remains locked and offers no signals?

A: Tap him lightly on the butt to get his attention and to break the spell. (YES, butt-tapping works!)

Q: What if I really really don’t want to go where he wants to go?
A: Let him go forwards first, then redirect him back where you want to go. Or… when he disengages from his point of fixation, just turn and walk calmly in the opposite direction with consistent leash pressure, no pulling/jerking/tugging. Hold the leash in front of the body at bellybutton level and walk. (Dogs are sensitive to different kinds of leash pressure)



On Tuesday, we also did more BAT, this time with Irith’s very friendly sweet English Shepherd, Franklin, as decoy. We got to the point where the Boogs curiously moved forward to sniff Franklin’s butt then bounced back in a play bow. (“This dog is OK! I want to play with him!”)

A more impressive moment was when Franklin moved quickly towards Boogie with direct eye contact, and Boogie instantly offered a lip lick (calming signal) and turned away. YAY!

A big thank you to Irith and Franklin for being there on Tuesday! I hope that we can organize a Boogie & Franklin playdate some day… Who wants to lend us a fenced yard?

Videos and links:

Ahimsa Dog Training: Premack Principle (youtube)

Sarah’s The Power of Premack: Fence Fighting (vimeo)

Dog Star Daily: On Shoddy Clicker Training & The Importance of Premack

Irith’s The Sophisticated Dog facebook page has some great articles on dog training.

June 30, 2010 at 1:34 am 2 comments

Squirrel Focus

This is what happens when Boogie becomes fixated on a squirrel. NOTHING else exists. He is frozen.  His focus is intense. Treats have no effect.

Five minutes later, he sat at the foot of the tree and refused to leave.

The only thing that I could do to break his concentration was to pick him up and carry him off.

As soon as I set Boogie back down on the ground, he pulled and pulled and pulled to get back to the tree. I stood still but he continued to pull and he pulled so hard that he was choking himself (wincing and gasping for air) so I picked him up again and carried him further away. And then he forgot about the squirrel and we had a pleasant rest of the walk home.

I am sure Sarah would not approve of this lengthy “letting-Boogie-practice-ignoring-me” behavior.  I was told that the more often that I let Boogie ignore me when called, the better he will get at it. I won’t be doing this again.  I just wanted to take this video. (Must do more recall training before distractions become overwhelming!)

June 23, 2010 at 9:51 pm 12 comments

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