Posts filed under ‘Social stuff’

Plugging my work (sometimes still Boogie-related!)



Or click here:!mailing-list/c1ll2

There are some new things happening this month, very soon:)

Meanwhile, I have just signed up for Donna Hill’s online course:  DOG AS A SECOND LANGUAGE. Everything I know about dog body language so far I have learned from Boogie. Yes, ONE DOG only. So much more to learn!


March 29, 2014 at 6:03 pm Leave a comment

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

A visit from cousin Q

Yesterday, Eddie visited us with his 3 year old daughter – Querida. The last time that Boogie met his cousin Q, she was still a teeny tiny baby and she wouldn’t have remembered him. Q is so big now – such a pretty girl!

We introduced the kids out on the street, with Q in her bicycle seat, and Boogie in my arms, on leash.

Q was super gentle with Boogie, and Boogie was super gentle with her. Q giggled when Boogie drank water because dogs are so cute when they drink water:) She followed him around the room as he followed me – I was the one with the bacon cheese dog treats…

Q picked up Boogie’s toys and her dad and I let her know which ones were “throw toys”(yes, you may pick it up and throw it for him) and which ones were “tug toys” (don’t touch those ones). Q got down on the rug and watched Boogie chew his corn cob. Several times she offered him his rubber dinosaur but he was way more interested in me because I had the bacon cheese cookies. And in Eddie because he was eating ice cream.

Sharing here some photos of the cute twosome…

One time Boogie gave Q a kiss on the face. This is quite a big deal because Boogie doesn’t just kiss ANYBODY, least of all someone he is meeting for the first time.  Boogie was relaxed and polite – no jumping, no running, his ears and face were soft the entire time – and Q was delightfully gentle with him, petting him on the back and throwing/dropping his ball for him.

And so I feel it is OK to share these photos, keeping in mind this blog post by the Dogs & Babies expert, Madeline Gabriel: “Should You Share That Cute Dog and Baby Photo?”

July 14, 2012 at 9:16 pm 3 comments

Photos from our Ice Cream Party

These pics are from a couple of weeks ago when Boogie’s neighbors came to visit for ICE CREAM. Recipe and reviews for The Pawfect Parfait are right here. It was interesting to observe that the ice cream became even more delicious to Boogie when there were other dogs interested in it.:)

June 21, 2012 at 7:11 pm 1 comment

Photos from a birthday party

Oliver & his brother Piccolo, live across the street. We see these doggies everyday on our walks, and Boogie was invited to Oliver’s birthday party this past Sunday.

I hadn’t planned on bringing Boogie to the party. I was told that there would be 10-20 OFFLEASH dogs – most of whom would be unfamiliar to Boogie – running around a tiny courtyard. There was no way I would feel comfortable in this situation, nor would Boogie. Besides, it wouldn’t be fair to keep Boogie on-leash in a sea of off-leash dogs and there is no way I would let Boogie off-leash in an unfenced area.

We arrived late in the afternoon, at the end of the party when all the big dogs had gone home.  There were a few small friendly dogs remaining.

Boogie was very calm, relaxed and sweet. Everyone commented on how “good” he was. The big slice of organic carrot-oats-honey-peanut-butter birthday cake helped, I’m sure.

Boogie says hi to the birthday boy –

*Body language observation: When Boogie greets an unfamiliar dog, his ears are up and his neck is stiff.  When he greets a buddy, his ears go back.

Here he is with frosting on his nose.

I MUST get the recipe for this cake.:)

May 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm 2 comments

Boogie is a DINOS (“Dogs In Need of Space”)

I read an awesome and much needed blog article today! –>  “My Dog Is Friendly!” A Public Service Announcement

 *Update: DINOS/DOGS IN NEED OF SPACE is trademarked. Please refer to the new version of the poster >  “SPACE ETIQUETTE FOR DOGS” if you wish to download and share.


I cannot tell you how many times Boogie and I have been approached (or even CHASED) by dogs whose super enthusiastic owners call out: “My dog is friendly!”  Or have MIDFs roll their eyes at me when they insist that their dog is friendly.

Take for example, yesterday at the vet’s office when a lady and her large-sized dog walked in. “My dog is friendly!” she said.

I had Boogie  on my lap, in my arms, and I replied “My dog isn’t”. We remained on opposite sides of the waiting room and there were no incidents. Her dog was laying down turned away; Boogie was at my feet hypnotizing me to take him home.

Several minutes later when the lady wasn’t paying attention and I was busy talking to the vet tech, the dog walked on over and nosed Boogie in the butt. Boogie, who was facing the other way unaware that there was a dog approaching him,  freaked out, turned around and snarled. The dog’s owner called out –  “Sorry! I wasn’t looking”  She pulled her dog away, then said in a very loud high-pitched voice so that the whole room could hear:  “Mommy loves you very much! Even if the other dog doesn’t love you, mommy loves you!”

I tried to explain that Boogie reacted because he was startled by her dog. Another lady in the waiting room offered  some moral support – “The dogs weren’t formally introduced”.

Well,  it was still awkward to be the only person in the room with a growly dog. Suddenly Boogie was made to look like an asshole.

And then there are the MDIFs who – even after I tell them that my dog ISN’T friendly – continue to believe that everything will be OK because their dog is “friendly” or is “good with dogs”. Or that they themselves are god’s gift to dogs, all dogs love them, and I’m just uptight or something.

Sure, Boogie is a sweet and friendly dog, but he is sensitive, extremely discriminating and does not instantly become friends with every dog and person that he meets. Boogie needs some space and time away from the new person/dog at first. If the person/dog is large, he needs even MORE space to make up his mind.

For a long time, before I saw the Turid Rugaas DVD and learned about BAT,  I had no idea that when dogs reacted it was because they needed SPACE (or distance from the trigger). Space, as a functional reward and training tool is so underrated!  I don’t think a lot of people know this. And MDIFs especially, need to know this.

More links:

This DINOS Manifesto  which inspired the illustration above.

The DINOS facebook page.

P.S.  People with DINOS, I recommend Grisha Stewart’s BAT book and BAT DVD (blog review coming later) with my illustrations <— If you order via these links, I get a % of sales.:)

P.P.S. This is another really good article – Misreading Dogs.

December 3, 2011 at 5:17 am 17 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

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