Is it ever ok for our dogs to break a command or not respond to a command when asked?
There are some situations with a potential for conflict with some dogs who are formerly aggressive or reactive where it is absolutely ok!!
This may be in the form of a dog choosing to break a command because they choose to avoid conflict with another dog or a human. An example of this could be in the waiting area of the vets office (or anywhere else, this is just the first common example I thought of that most people would experience). When waiting for our appointment, we’d use the down/stay command to have the dog hold a down on the floor while waiting. But if another dog came too close and my dog chose to break her down/stay and move away from the other dog rather than snapping or growling at it I would be perfectly fine with that and tell her she dog a good job!
The obedience can be touched up later, in the moment choosing space over conflict is more important than holding an obedience command. We want to get our dogs to the point where they are making the great choices on their own that we’ve been working hard to pattern for.
So when this happens, we aren’t going to correct our dog for breaking her command but we are going to advocate for her by shielding her from the other dog/asking the owner to pull it back/or simply moving to the other side of the waiting room/etc. and we are going to pat ourselves on the back for doing a great job of teaching our dog that’s it’s desirable and rewarding to avoid conflict.