08 October 2008

Weave poles Wednesday-In Bloom Jackpot Reward Method.

So learned over the weekend that if weave poles anywhere other than my driveway were dead people, I am Bruce Willis and Gustavo is Toni Colette and the rest of the world that only sees alive people. I KNOW those weave poles are there, but Gustavo, just doesn't see them. Maybe sometimes. The almost dead. He sees zombies. He is stuck in Dawn of the Living Dead, but I need him to see dead people. Not really. But you walk through Longs, past the vampire capes and lightup pumpkin decor, and there's all those Reeses, then you buy the first bag of mini Snickers and eventually you start seeing the dead people too.

Soooooo. If you are an agility luminary, I have already quizzed you til you are looking the other way, chatting with someone else about Commercial Paper and how many points the Dow tanked, and I am still yacking your ear off about your good ideas for Gustavo's zombie poles. Tried some of your good ideas, and trying to try them in a way that doesn't confuse him. So nothing too sneaky or different. They do get better, but in teensy weensy tiny increments. I'm not trying to bring zombies back to the living (voodoo), or even make them dead instead of undead (reanimation or miracle) here. I just want him to ALWAYS see the dead and not just the zombies. You get my problem.

So tried this idea today that seemed to work but is somewhat time consuming. What the hell. The economy sucks. My business is having the slows. I got some extra time. So here's what I did. First of all put some of the wires on, entrances and exits. Of the poles, you guys. I am OCD over these poles. That's what I'm trying to explain here. This is all over 12 pvc sticks that dog must wiggle one's body through in a most particular fashion. So sticking on wires is like putting a blanket over a dead person so maybe he doesn't look like a zombie exactly, but like the invisible man and he is wrapped up in mummy tape and his glasses are floating along. Because, is the invisible man a zombie, dead or alive? Did they ever explain that? Do you see him, Gustavo?

Then do some poles. He does them, 6 wires pretty much guarantee the poles are there. I give him a treat. Yay. Good job. But don't really make a crazy big deal over it.

I pull some wires off. Do them again. He does them? I go get the secret jackpot weapon of the dead. Undead. I forget now whose secret weapon.


Gustavo loves Otterpop like I love blueberries. Like I love taxidermied squirrels in native folk dancing costumes. Like I love talking chihuahuas riding the boxcar freight train over the border. LOVE. Is this a good thing? Like, Kurt Cobain and his darling Courtney Love. Why, oh why, Kurt? Up there in heaven, trying to get Timmy to stop barking at Jane out in the pasture. Bumming a smoke from Paul Newman. You could have had any lovely lady from the grunge era, and you picked Courtney. Courtney is volatile. She is nuts. Screams for no reason. Probably doesn't wear a helmet on her bike. But is one helluva lotta fun. Maybe in a Sid and Nancy way of fun, but it is FUN I tell you.

Fun is what Gustavo craves, and fun with Otterpop is what he gets when he does those poles fast and accurate like my Official Consistent Dog Training criteria demands. So we run over, get Otterpop, get the frisbee and we play insane dog frisbee for a few minutes. Insane dog frisbee, not like Fetch. Like Insane! Barking, biting, attacking with some fetch in there. Then I tie Otterpop up to the fence, send Gustavo back through his little sequence, ends in the poles, he SEES them, HELL YEAH, and go get Otterpop. Insane dog frisbee ensues. Weave poles much super funner and apparently more visible when they involve Otterpop and her frisbee.

Pull more wires off. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat. No wires. The poles are looking dead now. Can you see the dead people, Gustavo?

He sees them! More frisbee. Courtney Love! Dragging sweet and sensitive stoner Kurt straight down to the gutter with her. Barking and screaming and bellowing the whole way. Loudly. Biting. This frisbee game would scare poor little Black Beauty. Even Ruby keeps her distance. Krist Novoselic. She KNOWS about Otterpop. Everyone does. But Gustavo LOVES her. She's his muse. She helps him see the dead people with her wild running frisbee attack skills. Weird way to teach those weave poles? Yeah, maybe. But jackpot theory of reward here, Official Dog Training cops amongst you. It seems to be working for now and we're just going with it. Someday, this dog is going to have consistent weave poles somewhere other than my driveway.

You are wondering why Black Beauty provided you with no debate analysis of Tuesday night's debate where they walked around like lounge singers and you got stuck with my zombie weave pole OCD? I had to sit chihuahua-less through John McCain's shuffling around and his throaty little troll laugh coming out of his no neck. He has short arms. She stayed overnight in the hospital after her spay surgery today. Probably her first experience ever with medical anything. Her surgeon, one of my customers who usually is saving dogs from cancer or fixing their bones but who personally opened up little Black Beauty, thinks she's had puppies from how her uterus looked. We're going to say she's 6 years old. So we have a 2yr old dog, 4 yr old dog, 6 yr old dog, and 8yr old dog. Way easier to remember if I make up birthdays in a logical counting order. So she missed the debate to recover in the hospital. And then I couldn't stomach listening to either candidate without my chihuahua so I didn't even finish watching them. It's all sort of making me nauseous right now. I'd rather go work on those weave poles.


Anonymous said...

Bravo-if more people truly understood the idea of jackpot praise and excitment there would be a lot less hand wringing and hair pulling in the agility world.
Re: you first few paragraphs I say AHHH!!??? But then I am old.

Anonymous said...

I've always said that weave pole training depends purely on finding the right motivator (except for Border Collies who come with weave poles already installed).
One of my Dobes resisted being trained although I tried every existing method until I tried hot dogs (which he'd never had before). One bite of hot dog and he suddenly knew how to weave.

some random female said...

I'm disappointed not to have BB's take on the debate.... I found it disappointing and difficult to watch for some reason--maybe the format? BUT, I'm thrilled that it's official that she is staying. Congratulations! Hopefully she'll be back in form before the last debate.

Oh, and I am impressed by your jackpot reward method, too. I'm trying to come up with non-food motivators for one of my dogs, and the best I've come up with so far is Premacking fence-running with the neighbors' dogs. I'm a very bad trainer, though. It makes me feel kinda impatient to have a small number of reps take soooooooooo long.

team small dog said...

Yes, this hopefully helps. Because our problem is curious. He can sometimes do 12 blazing fast and accurate straight poles. With me nowhere near them, and attacking the entrance from anywhere. Which indicates he understands how to do poles.

And then, just as easily, sometimes he just does not see them at all, or kind of does and acts like he doesn't really get what you're supposed to do in weave poles. So we'll see if this method helps them always be the same thing no matter where they are.