Don't focus on the problem. Look for solutions.

I'm having trouble with Diego's work ethic. Now, Diego is a dog with 28 titles in seven sports, with perfect scores in formal obedience and routinely earns 100's in rally. This dog was given 9.2 and 9.6 on his freestyle routine, work ethic has never been a problem.
At his age, almost 10 yrs., it's reasonable to look to health related issues. He has bone spurs in both front feet, that injury from when he did the splits on the slippery floor a year ago and, well, he's ten. Certainly all these things are contributing to some degree but it's more than that.
Friday was one of "those" days. A day when quitting seems like a good choice. A day when "I'm not only quitting this, I'm quitting everything!" I'll be the first to admit that my attitude wasn't helping anything and I spent most of the following 24 hours examining my role in this. I'd like to say "Then like a bolt of lightening it hit me" but in reality it occurred to me much more softly, like a bystander whispering "You created this, you and only you. But guess what? You can fix this too." I've realized Diego has given me yet another gift, another lesson, though unpleasant, very necessary.
As I mentioned earlier Diego slipped on a slippery floor and did the splits with his hind end. The injury was much more severe than I initially thought. It also has had a profound psychological effect on him that will probably be with him for the rest of his life. Once the extent of his injury was realized I made the decision to not ask anything of him for a year. Every two weeks he's been going in for acupuncture/chiropractic treatments along with daily supplements. Physically he's as healed as he ever will be and I decided to compete in freestyle and rally.
So where'd the problem come from? During the last year I asked nothing of him but if he offered any behavior I reinforced it enthusiastically. My aim was to reinforce any "try" he gave me and to continue to have him see me as a valuable resource. What ultimately happened was every behavior he offered was in reality a demand. Because I was not asking for anything from him, he was hurt you know, and reinforcing whatever behaviors *he* offered when and where *he* offered them, he in essence turned me into a cookie dispenser. He was calling the shots and controlling the consequences so when I asked for something *I* wanted, when *I* wanted it he said "No thanks. I get what I want for free, I don't have to do anything *you* ask for because *you* give me everything I want when I ask for it."
The beauty of looking for solutions instead of focusing on the problems is the solution is pretty much right in front of you. I could have played the excuse game. He doesn't feel good. He's getting old. He doesn't feel like it anymore. But instead I was fortunate enough to realize I create this mess, I needed to fix this mess. Diego is now on a "Learn to Earn" program big time. He gets nothing for free, not even his meals. He's not getting any less, he just has to earn everything. The criteria now is he has to give me snappy, sharp responses or he gets nothing. No asking twice, no second chances. It will be interesting to see how long it will take to undo the poor attitude I created but that's just part of the journey and lesson. A journey I am grateful for and a lesson I will never forget.