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

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

What is a “normal” walk?

This is copied and pasted from a post I read on the  Functional Rewards yahoo group:

(I hope that the author doesn’t mind my reposting this)

“Reactive” dogs just can’t be compared to the mellow, ho hum, relaxed sort of dog that is comfortable, pleasant, and predictable on a leisurely walk.  If that is the type of walk that the owner of a “reactive” dog hopes to have, then the owner is setting his/herself and the dog up to fail.  Some reactive dogs may be able to achieve that at some point, or at least a semblance of it… but most will NOT achieve that “bomb proof” status.

I also believe that there is a type of “grief” that owners of challenging dogs go through in realizing their dog may not be able to meet the owners’ desires/needs or do the types of things that the owner hoped to do with their dog.  I believe this is an important part of loving our dogs for who they are (and HOW they are).

Now, that’s not to say that we shouldn’t continue to re-train/rehab our dogs – though admittedly, sometimes I do think we do overdo this and should consider just letting our dog be who they are and CHANGE OUR THINKING and activities to SUIT THE DOG.  But in using remedial training methods, mostly I just think our goals, expectations, and measures need to be comparing our dog to his/her own behavior… not against the typical dog.  Does that make sense?  I also think that our goals with reactive dogs are better focused on increasing management and safety, and REDUCING reactivity (the number of triggers, the intensity of the reaction, and recovery time) as opposed to shooting for a “normal” walk.  One of the lessons I always remind myself:  MAKE SURE MY EXPECTATIONS (of myself and my dog) ARE REASONABLE AND ACHIEVABLE.

This is an illustration that I did over a year ago.

I am still very mindful of all these ‘management rules’. However, I am pleased to say that I am better at READING Boogie, and at catching and responding to his signals, which means that we don’t always have to turn away/cross the street/avoid civilization.

These days, I rarely use the “Look At That” cue. (aka BAT – Stage One) I say “Boogie, WAIT” and we wait. Then I watch him to see what he is feeling. 80% of the time he wants to move forward, NOT move away. Using moving forward as the functional reward, I wait for Boogie to check in with me. He gets a YES! and Treat and we move forward.  This way, I know that the trigger is no longer (or never was) an issue.

The other 20% of the time, Boogie freezes. He becomes tense when he sees the trigger. This is a cue for me that we need to get away. I tap his butt, call him, and we do a 180, away from the scary/offending person or dog. Boogie pees on something. Relaxes.

Yep, NORMAL dog-walking for me.

I would be happier if Boogie could be relaxed with *slow-moving hunched-over old people with grocery bags who stare at him*….

May 31, 2011 at 6:44 pm 10 comments

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