Posts filed under ‘Play’

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

Training Homework RECAP, Boogie’s new toy

Photo taken from this morning’s BAT session with Sarah and Irith.

We were recreating the scenario last May when Boogie attacked a person who walked through this porch speaking loudly into a cellphone.

Boogie did really well! He knew the drill, looked, then turned away from Irith and followed me into the apartment. I mixed up the rewards of treats, tennis ball, back scratches and praises.

As Irith Bloom (The Sophisticated Dog) explained to me:  Even though what we do is highly repetitive (like military drills) and may seem pointless,  we are teaching Boogie new habits and we want him to repeat these behaviors over and over again (in a calm under-threshold state of mind) so that they sink in and become second-nature. Should Boogie feel threatened by a strange person, we want him to  instantly turn away/retreat, and look at me for direction instead of taking control and charging forwards.

I still need to work on Recall cues because Boogie tends to get distracted easily and ignore me in the case of smelly grass or squirrels.

  1. “Boogie!” recall, with outdoor distractions. 
  2. “Let’s Go!” U-turn cue. Practice this many time outdoors on walks.
  3. “_______!” <– I need to think of a unique word or phrase to train (with extremely high value treats) and use as an Emergency Recall cue.

I know this blog is becoming very repetitive. We have these BAT sessions week after week and I write the same ol’ stuff over and over again. My apologies to Boogie blog readers. I repeat these training notes to remind myself of the progress that we are making and also to help me not get slack.

Meanwhile, here is Boogie video with one of his new toys from ROSS. Boogie takes his toys very seriously.

June 21, 2010 at 8:45 am 2 comments

Boogie and Rosie!

Rosie is an adorable little boston girl – also a Boston Buddies rescue, who belongs to my friends Jen and Aaron. (See my drawing of Rosie here)

Boogie and Rosie met for the first time at the 2009 Boston Tea Party and yesterday, the two bosties had their first playdate. The flirtatious 2 year old Rosie was determined to win stoic Boogie’s heart and before long, we crazy BT parents had our cameras in our hands, laughing and  aawww-ing  at all the face-licking, cheek-nibbling, wrestling, BT500s, toy-swapping, grass-munching, and playful chases inside and outside of the house. Rosie was a riot. She followed Boogie everywhere, wiggled her butt, kissed his face, and even licked Boogie’s um… boy parts. Then he tried to mount her and she made him chase her around the house.

As I don’t have a fenced yard at home and it’s not safe to let him off-leash around here, it was so wounderful to see Boogie running around happily outdoors and with a playmate his own size who has just as much energy as he does, if not more! Rosie was the perfect little girlfriend and boy did she wear him out!

By the end of the afternoon….


Ssshhhh… Don’t tell the Boogs that Rosie already has lots of other boyfriends.

Some videos from yesterday:

More Boogie & Rosie photos:

My Flickr Set

Jen’s Flickr Set

May 30, 2010 at 8:44 pm 2 comments

Positive Reinforcement 101

If you have been following this blog from last year then you would know that I have a pretty awesome little dog. You would also know that this Boogie has bitten people and became dog-aggressive after getting attacked three times last year. His people-biting history actually goes way back before we adopted him.

So last year we went through a hardcore Obedience training program which taught us crate-training, basic commands and corrections… but the program didn’t address our specific behavior problems. What we really needed was a “Behavior Modification Program” that focuses on uniquely Boogie issues.

I first encounted Sarah of Bridges Dog Training on the Functional Rewards Yahoo Group (see my earlier blog post)and was really impressed by her posts and Youtube videos. And what’s more, she lives near me!

So far we have had one consultation session and today — our first clicker-training session!

click to view larger

There is just way too much info to share on this blog without it turning into a novella so I’ll summarize with a few training tips and pieces of Positive Reinforcement wisdom that I have learned from Sarah. (I am paraphrasing here, and adding my own bits and pieces)

1. Aggression is a behavior.
Boogie isn’t an aggressive dog. He has aggressive behaviors. This is a really useful distinction. Sarah explained that aggression is a behavioral response to stress, it does not define the dog’s personality. We want to teach Boogie to replace aggressive behaviors (lunging, growling, biting) with friendly behaviors (turn his head away, sniff the ground, do a shake etc.) when he is stressed by something. These friendly behaviors are also known as “Calming Signals”.

Corrections are counter-productive because when we correct or punish a dog, we are adding stress to his already stressed-state and this raises cortisol levels and inhibits learning. If we are to encourage Boogie to do socially-acceptable behaviors, we have to minimize stress as much as possible, and learn to read and pay attention to dog body language, so that we can mark and reward him at the precise moments that he offers any friendly behaviors. With time and practice, he will respond differently to stress.

I am already seeing signs of improvement! 🙂

So a part of our homework is to study dog body language. This is not as easy as it sounds because Boogie is a very “stoic” dog (quote Sarah). He is not a wiggly dog, he rarely lets his tongue hang out (except when he is hot). He is a calm and serious dog….a Mr. Poker Face of boston terriers!

[dvds and books- thank you, Sarah!]

2. Positive Reinforcement isn’t about “bribing with treats”. We have to be careful about using a LURE — we could be reinforcing the wrong behavior.

A lure is like a treat used to illicit a behavior… like a bribe to get a dog to do something. Sarah gave us some excellent examples on how this can be a problem:

Say we call Boogie and he doesn’t come. So we get a treat and call him again, and he comes. What we have just done is reward him for not coming when called. We have just taught Boogie that if he doesn’t come when called, he gets a treat. The more often we do this, the less often Boogie will come when called… unless if there is a treat in our hand.

Similarly, if Boogie jumps up and we hold out a treat and say “Sit”, we are reinforcing the JUMP. Boogie’s learns that if he jumps up, he gets to sit for a treat.

The correct way is to mark (“click!”)  at the precise moment that Boogie does the correct behavior and offer the treat-reward after the click, so that he knows the behavior that he is being rewarded for (and not the behavior preceding it).

To read: Fifteen tips for getting started with Clicker Training (the site requires free registration)

Today we did the “101 Things to Do With A Box” clicker-game, which is designed to encourage movement,  thinking and trying new things. It is said that dogs that have been punished or abused in the past are slower to respond because they are sort of repressed. They don’t know how to “think”. This is a game to loosen Boogie up.

The idea is to click & treat for ANY behavior that Boogie does with the box, beginning with a simple head-turn towards the box.

Warning: The videos are actually very boring to watch … you had to be HERE:) I also apologize for the terrible lighting.

We did two sessions of this game.  Boogie got as far as LOOKING at the box.  Most of the time he stared at my hand — waiting… waiting… waiting….

It’s only our first day so hey, give us some time! 🙂

I look forward to the day that Boogie jumps inside the box or picks up the box and moves it around. Ha – maybe 20 sessions later!

Other homework:  “Boogie!”(Whiplash head turn) cue and “Here” cue in different locations around the apartment, with distractions added. We need to strengthen his recall before we take the lessons outside.

This is all so interesting, and it is great to see Boogie perkier and more responsive.

One question I had to ask : When do we stop using the clicker (and treats)? Do we always have to use it?
Answer: When Boogie has learned a cue and he responds to it quickly 100% of the time, then we no longer have to use the clicker. The clicker is a tool that is primarily for training sessions when we need to make it clear to Boogie which behaviors we are reinforcing. The more often we reinforce, the stronger the behavior.

However, Sarah says that the recall cue (“Boogie!” or “Here!”) should ALWAYS be reinforced with something good, like a treat, and never anything bad so that he will reliably come to us when called in a case of emergency.

February 28, 2010 at 10:53 am 14 comments

Boogie: How I get my mom to do stuff

If Boogie could write, I bet this is what he would say:

How I get my mom out of bed in the morning.

Unlike other boston terriers that my mom has known, I am not an alarm-clock type of dog. I don’t trample all over her in the mornings; I don’t snort in her face. I love to sleep-in so I stay under the covers until my mom wakes me up.

However, sometimes I wake up before she does because I must eat, play or go outside.  Here are my methods:

  1. First I lick my mom’s face. Usually this gets me a muffled response. So I lick it again a few times. This might get me a “Good morning, Boogie” but she usually closes her eyes again.
  2. I proceed to “Belly Rub” position. You see, when I lie down in this position, with my head stretched back and my paws folded up on my chest, my mom ALWAYS tells me I am cute and she rubs my belly. I make sure that I am leaning against her because her eyes are closed and she can’t see. I stretch out as far as I can stretch and my mom will rub my belly.
  3. If she stops rubbing, I stretch out my chin and give a little snort. She will usually scratch under my chin too, and rub my belly some more. I try to prolong this as much as possible. It feels really good anyway.
  4. If she rolls over and falls back asleep, I get up, move to the other side, lean against her and get back into “Belly Rub” position. She rubs my belly again and tells me how cute I am.
  5. Eventually she will have rubbed my belly and scratched my chin so much that her eyes are wide open and she is wide awake.
  6. She gets out of bed – YAY!

Works every time.

How I get my mom to hang out with me on the couch.

I am like most boston terriers, a “Companion Dog”.  I like to have company when I do stuff. Sometimes I want to lie on the couch and chew on a toy and I want my mom on the couch. It’s hard to get her to leave her desk but I am a very patient dog and I have my methods.

  1. First I go to her chair to say hello. My mom usually pats my head and says “Hello Boogie”. Then she turns back to her computer.
  2. Next I sit at her feet and wait patiently. She usually ignores me for a while but I am a very patient dog so I wait.
  3. If this doesn’t work, I go and get my ball and drop it at her feet. I usually have to wait some more.
  4. When my mom bends over to pick up the ball, I grab it really fast and run in the direction of the couch. This isn’t always effective because she will say “No, Boogie. Go To Your Place” or something like that. I don’t always obey because I have been in “my place” all day and I need a change of scene.
  5. So I bring her the ball again and drop it a few inches further away from her feet. This will make her get out of her chair… which she does.
  6. When she gets up, I grab the ball really fast before she can get it and I lead her towards the couch.  We usually have to go through these motions a few times… each time I drop the ball a little further away from her chair so she has to walk further. My mom is not very smart. She takes a long time to work it out. But that’s ok. I am a very patient dog.
  7. Eventually my mom will walk to the couch and say something like “OK, Boogie. You want to play fetch over here? ” I don’t let go of the ball.  I wait until she sits her butt down on the couch. Then I drop the ball in front of her.
  8. My mom will then pick up the ball and throw it.
  9. I don’t run after the ball. I make myself comfortable on the couch and chew on a toy. My mom is sitting next to me on the couch. YAY!

P.S.  This is Method #1.  Method #2 – I take the ball to the kitchen and pretend like I want a treat. When she gets up from her desk, I lead her to the couch.

February 22, 2010 at 9:42 am Leave a comment

On Boogie’s “Dog aggression”

Here are two videos of the Boogs trying to play with Butch taken last week.  Butch is totally not interested in playing with him.

This is what we always say: Boogie is friendly only towards dogs that he knows.

I can count about six or eight dogs… including Butch and Emma who stay with us from time to time, Mighty and Stinky, and our neighbors’ dogs. Everyone else, he lunges, snarls, snaps, bites.

Dogs that Boogie “knows” are either:

1. Dogs that he met over a year ago when we first adopted him back in the day when he was still “dog-friendly”.

2. Dogs that he met more recently, barked or lunged at, then accepted as a buddy after an elaborate human-controlled buttsniffing introduction. Once he accepts another dog, he will always remember this dog and he will be cool when he meets him/her again. So yes, he CAN be friendly but it is a huge risk to introduce him to other dogs.  Especially big ones.

This is really awkward to explain to some people.

I remember one time  when I was walking Boogie , a guy passed us with his very large, slow-paced and fumbling English bulldog.  He was very taken by Boogie and  wanted our dogs to meet and become friends.  I did my usual spiel:  “Sorry, Boogie isn’t dog-friendly. He might bite”.

As I was saying this, Boogie was hanging out with Sky (neighbor’s placid lab) right before our eyes, behaving in a perfectly friendly and chilled-out fashion. This was a total contradiction to what I just said.

The guy seemed hurt:  He’s ok with the other dog. How come he is ok with the other dog?

Me: He already knows that dog. He is aggressive towards dogs that he doesn’t know.

Guy: My dog is really calm and friendly. We could try introducing your dog to her? She is so calm, she doesn’t fight at all. She really doesn’t care.

Me: I’m sorry… I can’t guarantee that he won’t attack if he gets close. He is unpredictable… and it will take a lot of effort to introduce them nicely.

I have this sort of conversation more often than I would like, and it’s awkward. Especially when I am walking Boogie and Butch together …people don’t believe me when I say that my dog is “not friendly”. They take a look at the two bostons walking nicely side by side and they think I’m crazy.

Some photos from Boogie’s “Dog-Friendly” days.

At Silverlake Dog Park. (2008)

Playing with neighbors’ dogs (2008)

Boston Tea Party (2008)...  He was happy to meet all the dogs and he got along fine with everyone. (In contrast to this year’s Boston Tea Party where he lunged at every dog that got close.)

So what changed?

Last year on three separate occasions, Boogie was attacked by another dog when he was on leash. In all cases, the other dogs were not under their owner’s control (one was off-leash, the other one on a loose-leash) when they charged at Boogie. And in all cases, Boogie was just happily minding his own business when they bit him.

It makes sense that when Boogie now sees a dog, his first move is to ATTACK.   He was always very sensitive to begin with, and now he bears new emotional scars…

Keeping Boogie away from other dogs is not easy.

At the vet’s office, there are usually lots of dogs in the small cramped waiting room. I keep Boogie on my lap and I get the feeling that he is totally content to stay there, away from the other dogs. But occasionally another dog will come close due to the smallness of the room and we have a situation.  It’s awkward.

At Thankdog Bootcamp, it’s great that all dogs are leashed and in an “obedient” frame of mind. Boogie is fine if the other dogs don’t come close or make any sounds. If another dog approaches him or so much as let out a small bark (friendly or not), this sets him off.   UPDATE: Knowing what I know now, I would NEVER recommend taking a sensitive/aggressive dog to a bootcamp full of dogs and “correcting” him  whenever he reacts. This was what I was taught to do – the bootcamp was  incredibly unfair to Boogie. I regret that experience with all my heart. 

Boogie also has nervousness around PEOPLE THAT HE DOESN’T KNOW and he lunges if they freak him out…

Personally, I hate putting my dog in quarantine from any sort of social activity. I miss the old Boogie. I want to help him overcome his fear-aggression and reactive-ness. Boogie LOVES to play and I bet he misses having buddies to play with.

Obedience training is  awesome but doesn’t address the social issue. I have started reading Ali Brown’s Scaredy Dog! Understanding and Rehabilitating your reactive dog.

If you have read this book and tried the techniques (I haven’t gotten to that part of the book yet)… please share your thoughts!

I also have Emma Parson’s Click To Calm on my reading list.

November 17, 2009 at 9:55 pm 7 comments

Socializing Boogie, and Calming Signals.

As part of Boogie’s training (and for everyone’s safety), we are not supposed to introduce him to other dogs or people. So I tell Boogie to “SIT” whenever another dog passes by on our walks. He sits and I say “Good Boy!” and give him a treat. This way, I have Boogie’s full attention. He is completely focused on whether my hand will go inside my pocket to pull out another treat. We stay like this until the coast is clear (other dog is out of sight) and then we move on together. I have been doing this exercise with him everyday… Everything has been fine. No pulling, no lunging, no drama.

Today being Saturday, there were LOTS of dogs on the street. Sometimes people tie their dogs outside on the narrow sidewalk while they are dining or shopping indoors, and I am proud to report that Boogie stayed next to me, HEELING nicely the whole time. No pulling, no lunging. Most times he would see the other dogs and simply ignore them.

Towards the end of our walk, we ran into a neighbor with a dog I hadn’t met before (sweet Charlotte), and we both stopped to chat. Boogie was of course intrigued by the other dog and vice versa but I made him sit, gave him a treat. When he was calm and relaxed, I did something I should not have done. Ay – here I am breaking the rules again. I let Boogie move towards Charlotte and made sure he greeted her by going AROUND to her BUTT. NOT front on. (“Front on” greeting is bad manners, and could be considered a sign of dominance) I also turned Boogie’s head to one side (with my hand) when he got close to Charlotte. This signals “Peace”.

I have been checking out several websites on “Calming Signals” and Dog Body Language, and I am learning to be more attentive about these things.

click to see larger

It was awesome when Boogie got down into a “Playbow” position with Charlotte, rolled on his back in front of her, bounced up and down around her, and the two started playing on the grass. (Bit tricky with leashed dogs) It was so much fun to watch … it has been MONTHS since Boogie has played with another dog, and I know that he LOVES to play. He was so happy. I wish I had my camera… I would’ve taken a picture of Boogie and Charlotte playing together.

While this was going on,  another neighbor walked by with a german shepherd that we hadn’t met before. Boogie went on alert, of course. I pulled him back and asked him to “sit”. He ignored me…. pulled, lunged, growled, snarled at the the other dog. I noticed too that the other dog was “not friendly”. He had approached Boogie front on, stared him in the eye and barked at him.  This isn’t something I would’ve been aware of before had I not paid extra attention to the other dogs’ body language. (Usually I am too busy focusing on Boogie’s behavior alone) You could say it was ‘natural’ for the Boogs to go ballistic, that he had a right to react the way he did but it was still worrying that he totally did not listen to me when I told him to “sit”. He was pulling and growling like a nutcase. Eventually the guy with german shepherd walked off and Boogie went straight into sitting position in front of me. “OK. Drama over. Treat, please”.

I wonder if dogs recognize “breeds” the way we do. I wonder if Boogs is mistrustful of german shepherds in general, after having being attacked by one…

Anyway, that small drama aside, Boogie has been a good boy. I am glad that he made a new friend today.

June 13, 2009 at 10:37 pm 1 comment

Boogie on Squirrel Street

Posted Date: : Dec 24, 2008 5:05 PM

One of Boogie’s favorite streets is RODNEY, in between Franklin and Finley (Los Feliz). He always pulls me towards this street because he knows that there is a happening squirrel community that lives here. Or maybe we keep seeing the same squirrel every time, I don’t know.

Here are some photos taken with my cellphone (from several different walks) which I recently transferred to my computer.

Boogie always returns to the same few trees on Rodney where he and Mr. Squirrel stare at each other like this, for ages (while his human fumbles for her cellphone camera). Squirrel eventually scampers upwards out of sight, and we move on.

These two photos below were taken this morning. I guess Boogie decided to sit and wait.

“Please, Mr. Squirrel. Please come down and play….”

And on that note,

December 24, 2008 at 7:39 am 1 comment

Boogie monster kills again

Posted Date: : Jul 28, 2008 9:41 AM

Boogie is usually at his most hyper after getting a bath. He does the BT500 around the apartment like a mad rabbit; presumably he is SO HAPPY to be out of the bathtub that he can’t contain himself.

Yesterday was a big day. We visited Christa’s Reggie and pups then went to Silverlake dog park where Boogie got so filthy that it was home to Bath Time! He doesn’t protest during his bath but you can tell that he’s not lovin’ it. No sooner is he released from the bath tub he is off on a mad dash through the apartment.

A few moments later, Wes stepped out of his bathroom to see a clean Boogie running towards him with white fluff hanging out of his mouth.


The victim: One UGLY DOLL CINKO

The scene of the crime:

Poor Cinko had been living on the couch all this time, visible to Boogie. Nobody knew that his days were numbered, and that it would be such a brutally quick death. This unstuffing had taken only a matter of TWO MINUTES!

July 28, 2008 at 9:20 am Leave a comment

Some new photos

Posted Date: : Jun 30, 2008 12:55 AM

June 30, 2008 at 7:17 am Leave a comment

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