Not today

I got out my car sun shade, clicker, treats and sat in the yard.  Elsa followed, and as I sat, she sat looking at me.  She looked at the shade and began; immediately touching the shade she got her click.  We were doing something with the sun shade.  Before I placed the shade on the ground I had considered what I wanted from Elsa.  You have to know what you want before you begin; otherwise what are you going to click for?  With the shade accordion style on the ground, we worked on getting her on it and laying down.  Next would be to stand it up so that she would have to knock it down and then get on it. 

Being that Elsa already knows about going to a spot and downing on it; she was fast to get on the shade and lay down.  So we were then moving onto standing it up for her to knock down when we were rudely interrupted.  A lizard.  Elsa stood transfixed on a spot behind me; I knew what it was as soon as she got rigid.  Within a fraction of a second she was gone.  She'd entered the hunt zone; which is not conducive to working on a new behavior.  I gave her a moment and called her back.  Once back, she was only partially with me.  Her attention kept going to the wall behind me and the lizard that might possibly come back to sun itself there.  In a flash she was gone again.  Hmmmmmmmmmmm.  I know when I've been nudged out, and this was one of those times.  Outdone by a lizard, whatever.  The sun would be out for another couple of hours so I folded up my shade, grabbed the treats, clicker and head in; leaving Elsa out with her lizard hunting. 

You cannot teach a new behavior with huge distractions, you just cannot.  Had we been working on a behavior that Elsa already knew then it would have been different.  I could have enforced that she stay with me and work.  When you are teaching a new behavior, you need undivided attention.  I most definitely did not have that when the lizard showed up on the scene.  Elsa has drive and her drive got the best of her.  Being that we were just doing "fun" training; learning a new behavior just to learn something new, I gave it up.  Better to end on a positive that sit and try to compete with the lizard. 

If it's not happening, quit.  Don't force a new behavior training moment.  If you cannot get your dog's undivided attention; wait until later when you can.  I could have upped the quality of my treats but the lizard still would have had part of Elsa's attention.  So I chose to end the session and begin again another day.  Maybe then I'll come up with something even better to do with the shade.