My intention was to have a dog training session with some distraction.
My intention was to focus on teaching the dog to walk on leash in heel position passing distractions.
My intention was to take a field trip in Olde Town Arvada and get some nice video examples of heeling around a busy shopping district.
When I got Zooley out of the car, however, she quickly informed me that my expectations were too high. She was struggling to concentrate, whining and chirping, muscling through leash pressure, and uninterested in the food rewards.
In balanced dog training, it’s really important that we instill the ‘you have to’s,’ meaning the work is not optional. However, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to set the dog up for success.
So, we trained in the parking lot. Instead of continuing to struggle, and trying to stick with the dog training plan of going into the shopping area, I trained heel, sit, and recall in the parking lot, until Zooely was ready for more. At that point I did a short walk around the block, avoiding the heavy foot traffic areas, rewarding her for the successful moments (noting that she was happily and easily taking the food rewards), and correcting the others, but knowing the corrections were fair and warranted in her current mental state.
The point is, if your dog is struggling, you may need to adjust your plans. You may have to let go of the intention to walk around the lake, or block, or inside the pet store. You may need to abandon the original training plan and do what works for your dog.
Your intentions should not dictate the dog training session. The dog does.