21 May 2012

Scientific exploration continues.

Gustavo and I practiced on Monday morning. The exact same time, the exact same place as Sunday. The difference was that on Sunday, he could barely run, eat any kind of treat, focus, or play. He was weirdly quiet and calm. He could kind of, sort of, do agility, but just a little. He once ran under the a-frame to hide.

Otterpop filled in for him. Otterpop ran pretty much her normal Otterpop way, as she can do. Not her best, but not her worst. Produce the frisbee and off she goes.

But on Monday morning, Gustavo was cuckoo for any kind of treat I offered him.  Boring, vegetarian treats. He was tugging madly for a little piece of cheese hidden in the corner of a tuggy, for up to 5 minutes straight Because yes. I timed this. He was running VERY FAST. And VERY FOCUSED. He could do no wrong. He just wanted to GO! With me. And he could fetch his frisbee. He was barking like a madman, like a BAD DOG barking madman. We made up some VERY HARD courses, courses that were stumping me and Otterpop, and he could run whatever I threw at him, if we made a mistake, he was all, screw it all and lemme at it again!

So what was different?

Lots of other dogs. Border collies. Papillons. Most of whom he knew.
Lots of other people. And their cars, and crates and stuff. Most of whom he knew.
Later in the afternoon he could run after he watched Otterpop run.

That's about it.

He did improve as the day wore on and I ran Otterpop first. It got hotter. He's generally sensitive to heat in wilting violet wave a hanky fashion. But a lot of people did leave and later in the day, it became a pretty small group of people and dogs.

He goes to class with lots of other people and dogs, some of who were at the seminar, while Otterpop sits in the car. He is usually very comfortable there, barking and obnoxious and running fast. And focused when he's focused. Which is not so much lately. He has been to many trials, group practices, fun matches, agility things, in many places over the years, albeit with various degrees of success. 

His old stress mechanism was to stress up and RUN DO MORE TUNNELS! New, sad Gustavo, creepy.

Plucky, rugged, pig brained optimism tells me, this is a training issue that some way, some how, some day, can be overcome. Common sense and the wisdom of looking backwards in time tells me I am chasing my tail in a circle on this one. The background noise of "health issues" is a blinking red flag.

Science project.


Elf said...

At this weekend's UKI trial, there were about 12 people, most of whom seem to train at that very facility on that very equipment. One person commented to me about her dog, don't know why he's so slow and worried--we train here! AND she was running Not For Competition, which is like a fun match run, with a toy, and so were 90% of the other people there. But still the dog was having none of it.

Dang dog weirdness.

Just letting you know that you are far from alone in the behavior (although who knows the causes--could all be different).

Terry A said...

i would suspect it could be a bit of both health & training. it's really relatively recently you've found out about his health, and there are surely training issues that can be improved to help compensate. now that you're being a girl scientist, i hope you can start creatively thinking of ways to incorporate new approaches at trials.

Candice said...

There was that whole eclipse thing going on, too.

Barbara said...

I run 2 different dogs in one small poodle package. In class, there's the one that's focused, fast, enthusiastic and a"clowndog. Then there's the one who shows up at trials (at his home facility) and is worried, shutdown, looking over his shoulder on start lines and actually sits down during a run and scratches or he starts to zoom. Judges, especially males cause him to stop on A-Frames if they are too close. Thus, I get stressed because I don't know which dog I'm running at the moment. Which no doubt causes him to be stressed out even more. He's taking Chinese Herbs for anxiety. I'm only entering him in the classes he needs and usually only once every 4 to 6 weeks.

Difficult to know what to do... take 3 obstacles and go out....and reward, reward, reward is what's been repeatedly recommended. That and no trialing for 6 months. Q's and titles mean nothing at this point cuz if he's not having fun with Mom, they don't happen anyway.

Jenn said...

Oh my. If only they could talk. Not that we'd want to deal with most of their sass (I've two sassy small dogs) but it would be so good to know and not have to guess about these issues.

Good luck.