Posts filed under ‘Play’

Playing with Boogie: Nina Ottoson Dog Fighter Game

Boogie Dog Fighter game

To be honest, I am not sure how to teach Boogie to play this Nina Ottoson game.

I put pieces of CHEESE underneath the cups. Then I called Boogie over to get the cheese. Boogie hasn’t quite figured out the mechanics of this game yet. If I don’t remind him to slide the cup thing (by demonstrating the sliding action to him), he sniffs and nudges and paws at the cup, and doesn’t know what else to do. Sometimes he slides the cup and retrieves the cheese and I assume that he gets it; but sometimes he doesn’t, and he continues to nudge the cup with his nose. When the cup stays put, he gets confused, backs away to his little bed, lies down and looks at me: “Please can YOU get the cheese?”

I was hoping Boogie would know to LIFT or PICK UP the cup from the base. My sorry attempt to demonstrate “lifting the cup” and holding it in front of Boogie’s mouth, ended up with him running off with the cup  as if it were a new cheese-scented chew toy…

August 7, 2013 at 10:54 pm 5 comments

Genius ideas

1. Home-stuffed Holey Ball! – I got this idea from 38 Brilliant Hacks for Dog Owners  (Also see #30!!!!)

 8. For a dog who loves to tear apart stuffed animals, make a durable activity ball with a Hol-ee rubber ball, scraps of fabric, and treats.


I may never need to buy plush/stuffed toys ever again. I stuffed this holey ball with scrappy fabric from old dismembered plush toys. It took Boogie 20-30 seconds to unstuff it. But oh it was so much fun! And we can do this over and over again!

Just received a handy tip from Melita on Facebook: “Maybe knot some of the scraps onto the ball?”

2. “Bow Wow Barrier” Retractable gate. A big thank you to the lady whose name I don’t remember (at Grisha’s L.A. BAT seminar) who told me about this local company. There is also a UK company that makes a similar product but international shipping costs more than the gate itself. Last week I ordered the Bow Wow Barrier gate and today, Nathan helped install it.  If you LIKE  Retract-A-Gate on Facebook  you get a discount coupon. This is a genius concept and is way less cumbersome and aesthetically-intrusive than a regular baby gate. The tough mesh fabric is see-through from the inside (good for Boogie) and unrolls when you open the door. The “gate” can also be unclipped from the door whenever you want. Will be VERY USEFUL when mail delivery people bring packages that I have to sign for, and when visitors arrive!  *Boogie isn’t the kind of dog to run away, but he does always rush to the door to greet.

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June 22, 2013 at 8:44 pm 1 comment

Protected: A bunch of Boogie PLAY videos. PW: boogs

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March 18, 2013 at 1:21 am Enter your password to view comments.

Understanding Doggie Play

I came across a brilliantly written blog post today – Have you heard the one about climate change and dog training?

I like this bit about “balanced dog training” –

What I’m advocating isn’t an all or nothing approach that discourages independent thinking.  What I’m suggesting is that according to the experts in this field, we are many years of work and mountains of evidence beyond having to balance our training philosophies because the real scientists have confirmed ten times over that the new art and science of animal behavior IS the field.

Which led me to another blog post by the same author where she analyzes the way her two dogs play.

we humans manage to anthropomorphize dogs in some of the most absurd and inappropriate ways, and yet don’t give them any credit as a species for possessing the same capacity for advanced social engagement that we do.

This blog post had a link to an very enlightening article in The Bark magazine: Is Your Dog’s Rough Play Appropriate? by Camille Ward & Barbara Smuts.

Coincidentally,  I am attending Nicole Wilde’s seminar on Dog-Dog Play this Sunday. I enrolled for two reasons: (1) I want to be more educated for Boogie’s sake so I understand what’s happening when he plays with another dog (2) I see this as research for my dog drawings.

Boogie rarely has the opportunity to play with another dog. We don’t have fences around here so it’s not safe to let him off-leash to run around with the neighbors’ dogs. Boogie sees his favorite play buddies – Rosie and Popeye- maybe 3 times a year because they live so far away.

A video from our last play date:

Here are some clippings from Is Your Dog’s Rough Play Appropriate? Some of this info is new to me and I find it fascinating:

Our research shows that for many dogs, play fighting is the primary method used to negotiate new relationships and develop lasting friendships. Although play is fun, it also offers serious opportunities to communicate with another dog. In this sense, play is a kind of language. Thus, when we regularly break up what we consider “inappropriate” play, are we doing our dogs a service, or confusing them by constantly butting into their private conversations? Most importantly, how can we tell the difference?

are traditional “no-no’s” like neck biting, rearing up, body-slamming and repeated pinning by one dog ever okay when two dogs are playing? It all depends on the individual dogs and the kind of relationship they have with one another.

This is very interesting –

…play does not necessarily have to be fair or balanced in order for two dogs to want to play with one another. Years ago, scientists proposed a 50/50 rule: for two individuals to engage in play, they must take turns being in the more assertive role. Scientists thought that if one individual was too rough or forceful (e.g., pinning her partner much more often than she was being pinned), the other dog would not want to play. Until our research, this proposition was never empirically tested.

There is an example of a “close canine friendship founded on unorthodox play”:

To this day, their play remains asymmetrical; Sage repeatedly brings down Sam with neck bites and continues to bite Sam’s neck once he is down. Sam wriggles on the ground and flails at Sage with his legs while Sage, growling loudly, keeps biting Sam’s neck. More than once, bystanders have thought the dogs were fighting for real, but Sage’s neck bites never harm Sam, and Sam never stops smiling, even when he’s down. Sometimes, when Sage is done playing but Sam is not, he’ll approach Sage and offer his neck, as though saying, “Here’s my neck; go ahead and pin me.” This move always succeeds; it’s an offer Sage cannot resist.

I am reminded of a little white fluffy girlfriend that Boogie used to play with (who no longer lives on our street). I used to worry that he was pinning her down and chewing on her neck too much. Well, there is so much misinformation about dogs being “dominant” that at the time I interpreted so much NORMAL dog communication as expressions of dominance. I have learned so much since then! Another common belief is that humping = dominance,  when humping is also pretty normal dog behavior associated with anxiety, arousal or social goofiness.

Boogie was off-leash in this very old video…

The article also draws attention to growls and snarly faces…

Play growls have different acoustical properties than growls given as threats, and when researchers played the growls back, dogs distinguished between play growls and growls given in agonistic (i.e., conflicting) contexts. If dogs can distinguish between types of growls in the absence of contextual cues (such as another playing dog), surely they know when a play partner’s growl is just pretend.

…dogs can exhibit nasty faces voluntarily, just as we do when we are only pretending to be mean.

…our studies have shown that dogs are very good at figuring out which dogs they want to play with and how to play well with their friends. Presumably, dogs are better than humans at speaking and understanding dog language. Perhaps it is time to humble ourselves and listen to them.

Also – Elisabeth Weiss: From The Dog’s Point of View 

I am looking forward to the Dog-Dog Play seminar on Sunday.

I will be bringing a sketch pad 🙂

July 18, 2012 at 4:36 am 2 comments

National Train Your Dog Month: training resolutions

January is “National Train Your Dog Month” and off the top of my head, I have two training resolutions for the new year. Well, the first one is more of a management issue than a training one.

Problem #1: Barking at people outside my apartment
I have a bunch of new neighbors and Boogie has been barking at all of them, in addition to the regular trespassers (workmen, mailmen etc.) When I call Boogie, he comes away from the window. I usually throw a ball and his attention is diverted for a few seconds. Then he’s back there in a flash, growling, whining, and barking.

I have been telling myself that I can live with this problem … I mean, it’s annoying but it only lasts for less than a minute, he doesn’t carry on for too long .

The problem is that the barking is happening more frequently. It seems to be getting worse.  Dog behavior fact:  this noisy behavior keeps getting reinforced by the people leaving, so he will continue to do it, and it WILL get worse…

Solution #1: Cover the windows
I have just ordered free samples of “privacy film” for my living room windows. Perhaps I’ll stick these on the lower half of the glass windows and Boogie will not be able to see out of them to react. (Thank you, Rewarding Behaviors blog)  I hope my windows won’t look too unattractive… We’ll see.

Solution #2: Counter-Conditioning?  Today I heard the mailman arrive and saw that Boogie was curled up in his bed (not yet aware of the mailman).  I got down to the bed-level and gave Boogie a massage…  lots of petting, stroking, belly rubs and more belly rubs.  He rolled on his back looking all blissed-out. In the background we could both hear the clanging of mailboxes and jingling jangling of keys. I was half-expecting Boogie to spring out of bed, run to the window and go crazy. Well, he didn’t do that. He remained on the bed, relaxed, letting me rub his belly. I stopped when the mailman had moved away from my building.

I wonder –  If I gave Boogie a massage every day at the same time as the mailman’s arrival … would he learn to chill out?

Or did his calmness today have absolutely nothing to do with the mailman?

Very interesting and useful video from Emily Larlham about making sure you have the right “predictor”:

Problem #2: The place is a mess! There are toys everywhere. Every day, Boogie goes to his toy basket, pulls all the toys out of it to get the toy that he wants  and by evening, I am stepping over toys to move around the room. Of course, I pick them up, put them back, and before long, Boogie pulls them all out again. I suppose the easiest solution is for me to not let Boogie have 24/7 access to those toys and keep them out of sight until it’s play time.

OR… Could I teach Boogie to put away his toys?

So far, whenever I offer Boogie a toy to DROP into the toy basket, he does this a few times, then runs off with the toy to chew on it elsewhere. Or somehow, the training session turns into a game of Tug.  It’s as if the ultra exciting combo of clicker + food + TOY gets him way too hyped to stay focused on what we’re doing… Clearly, I need to work on the “Hold” behavior first…

Question: Would I have to do this with every single toy? Will Boogie be able to easily generalize this “cleaning up” process to his gecko, rubber monkey, 2 steaks, 3 corn cobs, 4 tennis balls, little orange ball, red cuz, half-chewed plush animal limbs, blue octopus, pizza frisbee, dumbbell, two bones and plastic chicken?

January 8, 2012 at 2:40 am 5 comments

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

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

Boogie, Butch and the orange ball.

Butch has been fixated on the little orange cuz ball all night…  I could see Boogie eyeing the same ball so I took the ball away and put it on the table. I had a feeling that if one dog had the ball, there would be a fight so NOBODY GETS THE BALL.

Butch really really wanted that ball and he did not give up. He barked and whined and cried  and tried to clamber up onto the table. A few minutes later I turned around and there he was with the ball in his mouth. Yep, he had jumped up when my back was turned and stolen the ball.

So Butch had the ball. But Boogie was watching… as he does.

As soon as Butch accidentally dropped the ball, Boogie swooped in and stole it from him.

The relentless barking started again. Butch barked and barked and barked.

Then I saw Boogie throw the ball in front of Butch. No kidding. The ball landed right in front of where Butch was sitting and Boogie  got into a play bow. I called out “Good boy, Boogie!”

Butch looked at Boogie, looked at the ball, and was no longer interested in it. Instead he curled up right there and went to sleep!

Boogie was also no longer interested in the ball and he ran  into his crate.

A few minutes later, while Boogie was still in his crate, Butch  brought me the orange ball. “Play with me!”

Uh oh. Too late. Boogie has woken up…

October 19, 2010 at 6:49 am Leave a comment

A very happy day for Boogie

1. Sarah came to visit! Sarah is of course, Boogie’s favorite person. When Sarah comes to visit, there are games to play and  lots and lots of yummy home-baked tuna treats, all for repeatedly standing on a cushion/bed. We did a “Relax On a Mat” game with Boogie’s new bed, and a more active “Go To Your Mat” game with his Mr. Roboto cushion.  I have homework to do and so I made some…

2. Dream Drops training treats from The Honest Kitchen Recipe book. While I was chopping up the ham and cheese, a little dog got lucky. He loves the treats too… and for some reason, mine don’t look anything like the ones  in the book.

3. A new plush toy! I knew that it wouldn’t last, but hey, it was on sale for only $2.99 from ROSS and it was a MAILMAN! How could I resist! 😉

September 1, 2010 at 5:24 am Leave a comment

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