How to Guide for Handling Bugsy

Here is a straight forward list of how to handle Bugsy. He has improved A LOT but he will always have some aggressive traits. It’s just how he is. He has bad days. You have to train yourself how to handle him. I can tell you what has worked for us and you should use our tips. But you may find other things that work better for you. Use this as the base of your training and go from there.

Bugsy will become a devil dog sometimes. As in growling and showing teeth.

When he gets like this, do not challenge him. Do not yell at him to stop or make contact with him. He will retaliate and you won’t be happy.

He gets this way in his bed. A lot worse in a crate so I gave up on the crate. Try to put his bed in the living room in a space without direct traffic. You will see the worst of it in the beginning as he needs to get used to a new environment and learn that he is safe. This behavior will decrease as he learns to trust you. He stops growling as soon as he feels safe again.

Make his bed a happy and safe place. When you walk by his bed, throw treats in there. But don’t make eye contact or say anything. You just want him to associate you and the bed with things he likes (treats).

When he is in devil mode, shaking his treat box. It snaps him out of it sometimes. When he snaps out of it, tell him to come to you. Make him do commands (come, up, sit, spin, etc). If he does this, give him a treat. If he doesn’t, don’t treat him.

When he is acting up, grab his leash and start walking away. I would leave his leash on at all times. This will especially be helpful if he tries to lay on the sofa. If you try to push him off of it, he might bite you.

We have let Bugsy be on the sofa a few times. Usually when he has been so good. We have stopped this completely since Bugsy does snap at the end if he get startled.

Don’t let Bugsy hide under things or he will become the devil dog. When he is scared, he will try to hide in a room or under furniture. He will do this specially if it’s raining/thundering outside. He hates bad weather. It makes him scared. Best option is to tie him to something so that he cannot hide.

Until you have him in check that he will not go on your sofa or try to hide somewhere, tie him by his bed when you are gone. It will work like a crate without having to put in one.

Handling Bugsy at first will be challenging and maybe even overwhelming. But as long as you are willing to train to handle him, you will be fine. After you have learned this, rest is easy. Bugsy is low maintenance dog with many fun, quirky sides to him. It’s easy to take care of him and he is non-destructive. He knows lots of tricks and he walks on the leash well.

My days with Bugsy now are pretty uneventful. We go for walks. He flips over for belly rubs. He attempts to communicate with me. I think it’s about either he has to poop or he wants to play. He runs and taps on the door if he needs to pee sometimes. I know he will go into devil mode from time to time but I have the situation under control as long as I follow my own tips.

The rewards of having Bugsy far outweigh the downsides!  He is an adorable, playful, terrier mix that loves to do tricks.  The only thing you need to do is learn to handle his fear related quirks.  Just remember not to challenge him when he goes into devil mode – he is in a scared, defensive mode but will quickly snap out of it if you let him know that everything will be OK.

Update: Bugsy the Great Kibble Catcher

Bugsy learned some tricks from Zoom Room.

It’s been nearly 10 months since fostering Bugsy. We have had our ups and downs but he is now so much better, manageable, and quiet cute. Bugsy is still looking for his own human to love who can be patient with him.

Here are couple of things you should be aware of to prevent a grumpy Bugsy (photo to the left) which are totally manageable.

  • Restrict his space. Bugsy needs to be really restricted on where he is allowed because once he gets into a confined space (under furniture) or on sofa/bed, he exhibits similar behavior as when he is in a crate.. very growly.
  • No small children. Bugsy should not go to a home with small children. He can be unpredictable at times.
  • He wants to be solo. Bugsy would do best if he is the only dog in the house but he is ok with other dogs …eventually. It will take time under a watchful eye.
  • He is protective of his sleeping area and will growl if he feels his space is being invaded. You can eliminate this behavior by taking the actions below.

1. Give him a doggy bed only to sleep/rest in outside of your room. I placed his doggy bed in the living room.

2. Do not crate him. I’ve taken away his crate.  He has issues with the crate that I don’t think he will ever get over. (I tried)

3. Do not allow him on the bed or sofa.
Bugsy is not allowed on the bed or sofa because he will show space protective behavior. Sometimes he seems ok.. and wants to cuddle with you on the sofa and I do give in sometimes but eventually he will get growly and I have to scold him.


Bugsy needs a patient person who will keep up with the rules above. Other than that, when you adopt Bugsy, you will see that he is a very good companion. Bugsy is a low maintenance dog and non destructive. I’ve had him since January and he has not chewed on anything other than his food and snacks. He is affectionate enough to the point of walking over to you and flip over for a belly rub but he is no snuggle bunny or a kisser. He has been socialized with people and warms up to other humans pretty fast. He acts as a good watch dog though as he dislikes foreign noises in the house such as door knocking or unfamiliar car sounds.

Bugsy is super potty trained. If he has to go he will let you know by tapping the front door with his paws. You just have to make sure he goes on set schedule. Currently he goes in the morning, afternoon, evening, and before bedtime. He will be ok without going out during lunch time if you can’t make it.

Bugsy is happiest and best behaved when he gets his exercise. He loves walks and staring at things from the car or a kayak.

Bugsy doesn’t like to swim but he will dip his feet in the water. He is also ok with bath time.

~ MJ

A Chihuahua Named Bugsy – First Foster Dog of 2012

Photo Credit – Peter Tsai

This is Bugsy (on the right), our first foster dog of 2012 and 21st foster to date. I picked him up last Wednesday so he has been with us for a week now. Previously he was with another foster parent for a month who was a foreign exchange student, but he went back to his home country.

Bugsy (previously known as Baby) is a male chihuahua/terrier mix that was surrendered to Town Lake Animal Center (now Austin Animal Center).  As you can see in the picture, he is about the size of a cat and he has a slight (cute) underbite. Bugsy is about 5 years old and  you can read his full bio here.

Bugsy is sweet and smart. He is house broken and non destructive. He has no problem with being crated, but once he is in there, he becomes aggressive and growls because (we are guessing) he has fear issues. At first it was disheartening to see him become like this, but with some dog training help from Jennie Chen (@misohungry on Twitter), Peter and I learned to better take control and reduce the aggressive behavior.

This is a video taken yesterday which shows his progress.  Good doggy! We learned he is good at catching treats with his mouth and he knows how to sit.  Bugsy has been getting better each day and it’s getting easier to put him in and out of the crate 🙂