Posts filed under ‘Play’

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

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.

Tug-a-duck!

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….

SO CUTE.

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

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