The dog in the moment
Last weekend, I was working some little Corgi on a behavior we've really been focusing on the last few weeks. I've been thoroughly retraining my command discrimination for open obedience. What we were doing doesn't matter, but what happened is my dog that had been happily working suddenly stopped. She wouldn't respond to cues, and didn't want to come out of her crate after I put her away. Would. Not. Come. Out. Even after I left her in the training area to go in the house and make dinner. This is not normal Ros behavior.
I have to admit I was pretty frustrated. Ros is not a very biddable dog, but we've learned to work together through the years. If something goes wrong in our training, 99% of the time, I have a rate of reinforcement issue. I changed treats, went back out to train for a bit, and then called it quits for the night. I came in, commented to my trainer about her behavior. Was I frustrated? You bet! I that moment, I had a choice. I could force my dog to come out and work. I could force her to do the behaviors, or I could let it go. Sleep on it. Come back tomorrow.
My daily schedule is pretty much wake up, let dogs out, feed dogs, go to work. Came home from work to find a dog that had... suffered some gastric distress... while I was at work. Later that night I took her back out with the same treats I had used the night before and wah-la! I had a dog that would work. None of the issues of 24h before. We had a lovely training session.
I think we forget sometimes that we are working with a living, breathing, feeling animal. We don't know what they're thinking, or how they're feeling. Ros obviously had an upset tummy that night. She didn't want to train because of it, not because she was quitting due to lack of reinforcement.
The moral of the story? Train the dog in front of you. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Don't dig yourself into a hole trying to force an issue. And sometimes? It just is better to go take a nap.