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Hey guys,

Roz is a smart little cookie. I used to think you guys were a little bit crazy saying that these dogs are smarter than us, but she really does seem to one up me from time to time.

Here is my (current) issue. She is house trained, and she is really good about letting me know when she needs to go out. She will go and nose the door handle, and if I'm not paying attention, she will paw the door stopper to make it BOING and then she noses the door handle again. It's really cute, and I love that she will let me know. However, the past few days, she will do it whenever she wants to go out, regardless of whether or not she needs to use the restroom. As a result, I have started to do the following:

When she says she needs to go out, I take her out, but only straight to the "bathroom area" and we stay there for 5-10 minutes and go right back inside. If she DOES go out and go right to the bathroom, sometimes I will take her for a walk after she goes, so that she doesn't think that every time she goes to the bathroom she will have to go right back inside. I don't want her to hold it so she stays out longer.

If she says she needs to go out and then doesn't go, we go back inside and I do my own thing for about five or so minutes and once she is settled down playing with a stuffy or chewing on a toy, I take her out for a long walk and/or some long lead play time. I want walks and play time to be my idea, not hers, but I also want to make sure she gets enough of both.

However, she seems to still be "crying wolf" about needing to use the restroom, and I'd like her to stop, so I know when she really needs to go.

Any advice will be appreciated.
 

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Careful with your reinforcement

Your dog seems to find being outside reinforcing. Waiting 5 minutes after she goes to the bathroom is very important so that they don't learn that relieving themselves means outside time is over. I do this every time my pup needs to go to the backyard to potty, otherwise you are teaching her to hold it until she's ready to go back in. Have you stopped rewarding elimination outside? Doing this variably (not treating every time but maybe every other time) will strengthen the behavior.
To teach her that pawing the door, or whatever her cue is for you to let her out, means go potty outside and not hang out, I recommend giving her 1-3 min to go to the bathroom and then if nothing happens back inside. Wait maybe another minute and try again. If she goes within the 3 minutes then it is important to reward and not come back in right away. Only play with her outside after she has eliminated. Nothing reinforcing should happen before she goes to the bathroom.
The take home message here is to know what is reinforcing for your dog and that it increases the frequency of that behavior. Be specific with your reinforcement! :)
 

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Good luck! Shanoa does the same thing :D

I was very consistent with taking her out when we were potty training, even if I suspected that she didn't really need to go potty and just wanted to go outside. I didn't want to risk an accident.

Once I knew she was potty trained, I was pretty good at figuring out when she was ringing the bell because she needed to, and when she was just bored. I just don't let her out when she's "boredom ringing." She also rings it to alert me that there is a squirrel in the yard that should be chased.

I'm afraid I'm not a great example as I didn't do a good job of training her to ONLY ring when she needs to potty. The only thing that helped (and it didn't fix it) was that she HATES to go out without me. So if she rings, she goes out, and I stay in. If she potties she comes right back in. If she was boredom ringing she stays out there without me for a few minutes. It helped, but she still does it from time to time.
 

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kopfgeschlagen
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Elke does a similar thing - she goes and stands by the door and stares at me with her head tilted. I have learned to tell when she wants out because she needs to go, and when she just wants to go out to explore, relieve boredom, see what the enighbor dog is up to, etc. You'll learn her cues over time. In the mean time, I think rewarding her for pottying by taking a walk or playing after is a good idea. I have nothing else to add because I'm definitely no expert but good luck!

They are like little chess players - they can put a chain of actions together and know what will get them to the result they want.
 

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shilow rings a bell hanging on the door knob when she wants to go out and yes I have been trained . It's seems to be a game how many times she can get me up but now it's mainly her checking to see if there is any cat food on the porch. so it's up to you to tell when she is crying wolf or not . Remember your the boss LOL
 

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My first dog (in the late 1970's) started "playing / cry wolf".
Back then...half the time, I would just open the side door and let her out to the back yard.
I also train my dogs to paw scratch the bottom of the door, open it and come back in the house.
- because the door is left 1/4" open and not fully closed
- keeps the bugs out, but nice paint is hard to keep on the door...its right down to factory primer, in spots...lol

So my first dog, did as yours...needed out side, all to often.
- we started going out together and I made a big observation
My nice old next door neighbor was a retired fireman...when he took his little poodle outside for potty...his pocket had a big treat in it for our Tanya.
- he was feeding her through the chain link fence / so she always go off the couch...when she heard him outside

I then started looking in the good neighbor backyard to see if his porch light was on when our dobe asked to go outside ASAP.
- when the need to go out was for a treat and not for a pee break...the dog & me had a heart-to-heart serious TALK...Ha-Ha.
Problem solved...when I knew what to look for.
- and YES, dobes are smarter than most dogs & sometimes think they can fool thier owner !!
 

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Holier Than Now
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I think you're doing a pretty good job, actually.

And hey, you've gotten your smart dog very operant, so as long as you stay a step or two ahead, that's a great thing!

The advice about determining exactly what is reinforcing to your dog, and then being very accurate and thoughtful about your reinforcement schedule was spot-on.

Just continue with that plan, and remember about extinction bursts--you'll at some point likely see a seemingly inexplicable increase in the "calling the bellhop" behavior, but then it will subside again if you just stick calmly to your plan.
 

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My pup has a bell as well, sometimes she uses it for its intended purpose, sometimes its just an "I wanna go out and play" ring, if the older dog is already out, which is fine, as long as she is ringing it every time she really wants to go out to pee. Which, she doesnt. I have a lazy dog .. when it is raining I have to REALLY watch the little stinker, because she will go in the kitchen, pee on the floor then ring the damn bell to tell me I have to come clean up her mess. I have to be extra vigilant on rainy days to make sure I monitor when she gets water, and time how long I wait before I make her go out so she wont pee on the floor, and sometimes even this wont work because she will go out in the rain, stand there looking totally pitiful, not pee and come in, then 5 minutes after I turn away there's a big puddle on the floor and the brat is ringing that darn bell.

I think your girl is doing remarkably well compared to mine lol.
 

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just be open minded about our capacity to learn new things. After five years, Quincy has me to where he gets fed in bed, I change his TV channels, I pick up his toys when he drops them from the couch, I clean for him, I follow him around with a rag to wipe up his water drippies...
Minus the fed in bed that's Cap'n Jack word for word! I always let Jack out in intervals of 10-15 minutes with the other dogs, tell him potty, then let him do his thing. Other than some over excitement experience I wish I had some sort of advice to help you OP. Best of luck!
 

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tell me what is it with dogs not wanting to go in the rain? I go through the same thing. Its rain. big deal. We have a doggie door and while our pup is pretty good about going out and doing her business, every once in a while,like this morning, she took a big poop out side our bathroom door. I don't get it. I'm starting to think she wants to be toilet trained like a person as opposed to having to go outside like the regular dogs. lol. This Diva behavior of hers really has to stop.
 
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