I liked this thread so much I wanted to come back to it because I didn't add anything that I felt was constructive.
Eileen has a bunch of great contributions to this. She has a series of "missed cues" videos, one of which links to a blog about "disobedience" and I believe that blog leads to other blogs on the same topic.
This is the series:
Missed cue videos - YouTube
Here's another blog entry by 4pawsu:
Is it really disobedience? | Paws Abilities
I contributed a comment at the bottom about Ginger and her back problems that were representing as "disobedience" and all I had to go through to find out that it was actually a very painful medical problem!
That being said, I never take it for granted when an animal doesn't comply. I always give the benefit of the doubt that there could be a very legitimate reason why, rather than assume that the animal is simply "blowing me off".
Many people will swear up and down that their dog knows it and is just being stubborn so he deserves <insert type of correction>.
Well, to that I say, how the heck do you know what's going on in your dog's mind? Can any of us read minds?
The fact is that many professional trainers even don't quite grasp how dogs learn! Yes, they learn very similarly to humans but they lack much of our human logic and reasoning and there are some key differences in how they learn. Like the first Youtube video shows. Most dogs don't generalize well.
So if I teach my dog to sit in the living room and then take her outside and command a sit with cars whizzing by, and she doesn't do it, maybe she just genuinely can't generalize the cue to this situation/environment and the cars are too much distraction. So that would be at least two trainer mistakes right there. Lumping criteria (going from the quiet, boring living room to a different, busy and distracting environment without working her up to this level of criteria) and not teaching her how to generalize the command (not having taught it in different scenarios and environments).
I could give you a million other examples of trainer mistakes and how it effects the dog's compliance and a million reasons for so-called "disobedience".
If a dog knows a cue, and they can carry it out, what good reason do they have not to if they know that they won't get a worthy reward, or if they're in danger of a correction? What dog enjoys being corrected?? One thing I've observed is that corrections often cause response depression and a frantic rush to comply just in order to ESCAPE a correction. So why would a dog prefer a correction all of sudden to doing a command that they supposedly already know and are quite capable of performing?
I'm tired but I had a point somewhere in all of this! Anyways... when training goes wrong, I think it's much more constructive to consider if there's a medical reason something failed or if perhaps something could have been taught better, which is much more often the case, though I'm not discounting medical causes as they do happen and are very worth consideration.
It's time we stop shooting the dog!