27 July 2011

Recalibrating the Gustavometer, again.

Gustavo had a roll going there of great focus, great listening, great weave poles, great speed, great great great great great.

But all of a sudden in the last week, Gustavo started rating really low on his Gustavometer. I'm not sure why. We had such a good streak going there. No meltdowns-Awesomestavo! There were some spookies at the last trial, but they were mild. We've been working on the low stress lifestyle. Margaritaville! Living on sponge cake! Watching the clams bake!

But last week's Dirt Nite, he wasn't totally there. And then over the weekend when I practiced with friends, backslid back to zero focus. Like running off the field to pilfer someone else's meaty bone and fluttering after the dragonflies. So Gustavo 1.0, old skool version. I resorted to pulling out a cheese stick to reward almost every obstacle. Almost made me cry. It got better. But still.

During our Monday practice, with just me and my dogs, he went all wandery again. Checking out and staring longingly out the fence line, down to where the deers go. Hola, Deers! Had there been no fence, I suspect would have frolicked out into the forest to become one with the wildlife.

Why. Why. Why. Why. Why.

I dunno. But here's what I do when that happens now.

1. Go and get him and put him somewhere. Like in an escape proof box.

2. Count to 10 or 100 or take a deep breath and if I need to stomp my feet do it a little bit secretly.

3. Write down exactly where we went awry. On Monday, I had set up a little drill and was rewarding frequently, but the place he melted down was at a rear cross on a hard turn into the poles. Stranger ranger danger flanger, if he isn't totally ON, some things cause issues. I am keeping track.

4. Repeat some happy thoughts in a non whiney voice, like "Train don't complain," and "This is making me a better dog trainer," and "It's the journey," and "Goddamnit all to hell."

5. Go and get one of the Nice Trained Dogs That Always Play with Toys and Do Agility No Matter What out of the car and run around with them. Otterpop can be a weirdo at trials, but she is a practice slut for her frisbee. And Ruby gets pretty excited to do a spin around a little course of bars on the ground and some tunnels. Maybe once up on the teeter. Ruby LOVES teeters.

6. Go and get Gustavo and find a nice, shady spot in the grass to get him to play with me and his toy. It takes a while to conjure up New and Improved Gustavo 2.0. We might be sitting there for a while, just me and him. I am a patient person.

7. Try again. Play, play, play. Reward, reward, reward.

So this is how we do it. We just try again.


Anonymous said...

I have that meter too, for myself.
Somedays I'm ALL about whatever you set in front of me, and somedays I'm not.

Hug the little guy from me. :)


Elf said...

#4 is the most important. All of it. GDIATH especially. Been there. Not that specific problem, but, yeah. And I'm not so good about stopming my feet privately, so you're a better handler in that area.

team small dog said...

Gustavo is such a good boy. He just had a great night at dirt nite. Didn't put a foot wrong. Go figger. I am really lucky to have a Gustavo.