a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Saturday Musings

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Musings

SUMMARY: In which we discuss overmotivating and gradual deterioration of criteria.
If you have 10 minutes, watch this excellent Dan Pink talk on what motivates us (it's cleverly animated in a way that makes the material very clear). Or at least check out from 1:12-2:20 in that talk. The key point made in this presentation is this:
For an action that isn't purely mechanical or rote--that is, that requires even rudimentary conceptual, creative thinking--the larger the reward, the worse people do.

I can give you an example. As in: Trying to get your 3rd Super-Q in Snooker to complete your championship (after you've already managed to get 2 but now cannot get the 3rd). Take me and Tika. Every time I went to the start line, I wanted that third Super-Q so badly that my brain starting blowing its fuses. The reward was SO high (in my own mind) because I wanted it SO badly, and as a result, I couldn't function. When eventually we got that 3rd one, we then got something like 3 in a row. I can't even begin to tell you the amazingly stupid things that I did during those attempts at that 3rd Super-Q.

So, now, as you know, I discovered that Tika is in serious contention for Top Ten awards (Top Ten in the U.S. in USDAA). And not in just one class--in ALL FOUR classes (ignoring tournaments). And with one exception of Jake somehow stumbling into Top Ten in one Performance class one year, I've never been anywhere near this before--and am certainly nowhere near this with Boost--and Tika is 9 and a half with unpredictable bouts of soreness. If we don't get Top Ten in as many classes as possible this year, I may never again have a chance to be in Top Ten.

Need I say more about how valuable I feel those Top Ten point rewards are? And the resulting disasters?

OK, I will say more: First part of the year, before I realized we were in serious contention, we did great. Now? Wanting Top Ten points so badly? It is to laugh! I laugh! Ha ha!

Tika's day today

Pairs Relay? Don't care, doesn't count for anything. She and her partner took 1st.

Steeplechase? Don't care that much. Good run and 2nd place.

Standard, Gamblers, and Snooker, where I REALLY REALLY WANT Top Ten points because we're hovering on the cusp of in/out? Heh:

  • Standard: I misjudged what she'd do after the Aframe and had to call her off the wrong obstacle, for time wasted. And she decided not to go down immediately on the table. We ended in 3rd place for a mere 1 Top Ten pt, one second out of 2nd (3 pts), two seconds out of 1st (5 pts).
  • Gamblers: High opening points. The gamble was hard--only 3 out of something like 80 Championship dogs got it. But in Tika's class--2 out of 6 dogs got it! And I really really wanted the 1st or 2nd. We had high opening points and my brain shut down before the gamble so I did something different from what I had walked. Result, no gamble, and 3rd place for 1 point again.
  • Snooker: My legs ceased to function. I couldn't get around the course. She knocked a bar that I couldn't get to in the opening and I let her go wide on several turns because I wasn't there, and we ran out of time one second before completing the #7 in the closing. Felt like brain freeze. 4th place, not even 1 Top Ten pt.

Boost's day today

Steeplechase? Don't care, she's actually got several of them. Not perfect, but pretty nice, and a Q, which I believe completes her Tournament Bronze title.

Pairs Relay? Don't care. She has way more of these Qs than anything else. Ran beautifully, still took 6th out of 26 teams despite her partner's refusal at the weave poles, which cost several seconds of time and a 5-second (point) penalty, and the partner's mysterious tunnel malingering (see vid below).

REALLY REALLY WANT A SNOOKER SUPER-Q because we've never gotten even ONE and this one should be SO DOABLE FOR US. Meltdown. Not even a Q.

Gamblers: She had a decent opening but I didn't handle the closing as I had walked it. Much like Tika's run.

Standard: Would like more of these, but not desperate. Not a perfect run--knocked one bar and came off the table early--but no refusals or runouts, like a miracle!

The conclusion on reward/motivation/success...

... is left as an exercise for the student.

Gradual deterioration of criteria

Boost had lovely 2 on/2 off contacts that I vowed would always be lovely. But sometimes I let them go, like in Steeplechase or Gamblers. So--yes, kiddies, if you don't maintain criteria, the dog *IS* smart enough to realize that! So at the last trial (CPE) she was leaving most of her contacts without waiting for a release, despite me making her "down" after most--erm, yes, most, not all--of the errors.

And today? Didn't stick a single. Dang. Contact. Not one. As a result, if I'm behind her, she spins around in front of me and is now facing me. Makes it hard to do agility.

In one early class, I did make her Down each time, but it wasn't stopping her from the errant behavior. I should've right then picked her up and carried her off the course. But I didn't. So, yes, her contacts are broken broken BROKEN. Will I have the fortitude tomorrow to give up some potential Qs to enforce the criteria? We shall see--

Are we having fun yet?

Boost's Pairs Relay run was exhilarating! Imagine driving a race car full out on a challenging course and not crapping out. That's the high when Boost and I are communicating and she's running well. (Although in reviewing the run's video, I'm seeing an extra step in a couple of places where she shouldn't need one. Always something. Plus I look like I'm lumbering, not sprinting lightly like my pairs partner.)  Watch for the mysterious tunnel delay when Killy runs.

P.S. Those contacts are rubberized, in case you wondered what they look like.

And so as we sink slowly into the sunset

...Tomorrow is another day.

1 comment:

  1. Well, that pairs run with Boost was gorgeous! Hoping for more of what you'd like today...