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My Colonial Cocker Spaniel puppy is just over 4 months old and not doing too badly with learning the rules about toileting. Although hardly a day goes by where there isn't an accident inside. I think it's usually caused by excitement (or sometimes anxiety). She gets very excited when I return home and usually springs a leak then as well.

The method I used for toilet training was to take her ever hour to the designated toilet spot, say "go-toilet" and praise and treat is she was successful. She's now started going to the door when she wants to pee which I thought was a great sign. Recently, however, she has started going to the door and when I let her out she pretends to wee! She will squat for a few seconds, leave nothing by dry paving and then look at me as if to say "where's my treat?". I don't give her treats for pretending.

It's only a problem because I don't know if she's serious about needing to pee and I don't want to be letting her out every ten minutes for phantom peeing in an attempt to get a treat.

Are puppies normally this cunning? Do you think she will stop in time when she realises she doesn't get paid for phantom pee?
 

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She's now started going to the door when she wants to pee which I thought was a great sign. Recently, however, she has started going to the door and when I let her out she pretends to wee! She will squat for a few seconds, leave nothing by dry paving and then look at me as if to say "where's my treat?". I don't give her treats for pretending.
I would still give her a single treat and low key praise for "pretending". Simply because at that point you essentially have 2/3 of the potty training battle conquered -- she is going to the door in an effort to notify you, followed by attempting to eliminate outside. Those two things, alone, are worthy of at least some reinforcement. The other 1/3 will come in due time.

On the occasions when she actually DOES eliminate outside, give her a JACKPOT of high value treats and some exuberant praise.
 

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Agree with petpeeve! And I'll add in that this is very, very common. Many dogs try to experiment with how much they actually have to do to get that treat at some point, and I've known a lot who go through phases of pretending to pee.

If you suspect she really does have to pee - for example, if she's been napping for a couple hours and this is her first trip out - and she only fakes it, you can try bringing her back in for a couple minutes, putting her in a crate (if crate trained), pen, or just have her tethered to you so you can watch her super closely, and try again in 3-5 minutes. Basically, she doesn't get freedom until you're positive she's actually emptied herself, so she can't go off and potty on a rug while you're not looking.
 

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Smart puppy. She's learned that doing something you want gets her a reward. That's more than half the battle, right there.

I agree with petpeeve, give a single low value reward and a simple good girl for "pretending" to pee, and the good stuff and a party for actual elimination, even if it's just a couple of drops.

Also, Cockers are one of the breeds known for having excited pee-ers. I know it's hard, but low key greetings and taking her outside immediately while ignoring the dribbles (cleaning them up thoroughly afterward, of course) is usually the best way to deal with it.
 

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Thank you all for the responses.

@LeoRose I've read a lot of stuff about how to deal with excited pee-ers, what you have suggested is how I handle it. Some say ignore her for 20 minutes when you get home but that's not why I have a dog - I love that she wants to greet us when we get home and I look forward to seeing her too - a little pee isn't a big deal and I'm sure she will grow out of it.

She is doing great to be honest, she has even mostly mastered loose leash walking :)

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Thank you all for the responses.

@LeoRose I've read a lot of stuff about how to deal with excited pee-ers, what you have suggested is how I handle it. Some say ignore her for 20 minutes when you get home but that's not why I have a dog - I love that she wants to greet us when we get home and I look forward to seeing her too - a little pee isn't a big deal and I'm sure she will grow out of it.

She is doing great to be honest, she has even mostly mastered loose leash walking :)

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She's gorgeous, so adorable! I'm glad you are not ignoring her for 20 minutes when you return home because that would be totally unnatural and this weird behaviour could confuse your pup and make her feel something is wrong. Instead just keep it low key and calmly take her out to pee as soon as possible.

Sidenote: I've never heard of a pup pretending to pee! I never used treats for potty training either, but those are some sneaky pups lol!
 

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Oh! And I wanted to add that it might help to think of it differently. Dogs don't really do 'extortion' in a malicious sense, their brains don't work that way. When I see stuff like fake peeing to see if that earns them a treat, I take that as the dog is learning how to learn via training, and how to creatively problem solve ("is it the whole behavior that earns the treat, or can I find a single part of it that's what my human wants?"). Super useful skill!
 

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Yes, yes they are. I have a one year old mutt at home and he comes up with new extortion ways every single day. First it was ripping up toilet paper if i said no, then it was scratching the walls and chewing the linoleum whenever i went to work, then it was fake allergy scratching (i have another dog that has severe allergies and she always gets more attention than him whenever she has these allergy attacks), then it was biting other people when I gave them attention instead of giving it to him and then lest week we reached a whole new level. He was diagnosed with colitis a couple weeks ago and i had to cook for him every day (rice and chicken) for 5 days. He loved the diet and felt much better when the antibiotics kicked in. We then slowly introduced him back to dry dog food (the same one he's been eating for months now) and at first he ate it but still ran to the kitchen whenever i was cooking because he thought it was for him. After three days he developed diarrhea again and we had to put him back on the rice diet. He seemed fine in a few days and we changed back to dog food (all of this was done according to the vet). He still ran to the kitchen whenever i was cooking and seemed visibly upset when it wasn't his rice. His poop was completely solid, he has been behaving completely normal since the antibiotics, he's definitely not sick anymore. Two days ago he suddenly got diarrhea again and we were all very confused as to why because nothing changed and he couldn't be sick again. The moment i cooked his rice (he hasn't even eaten it by that point) he was immediately cured of everything. I've never seen a dog this happy before. After consulting with the vet we then realized this was a new way of extortion. Basically he got upset he didn't get what he wanted and then stressed himself out to the point of getting diarrhea.
So yes, dogs are insanely smart.
 

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Yes, dogs are smart, but they aren't making complex plans to get revenge on you by being destructive when you leave or getting diarrhea. The destructive behavior sounds like perfectly normal ways dogs respond to stress and frustration, and can be addressed by ensuring he's getting enough mental and physical stimulation, then finding training techniques that help him manage stress in more appropriate and healthy ways. Dogs having emotional responses to things isn't deliberate manipulation, it's just natural animal behavior.
 

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I'm not saying it's a complex plan but it is definitely a form of manipulation. We play with him everyday for hours at a time, we go on long walks and i take him with me on runs. I walk and run about 30 kilometers a day with him, meaning he walks about 70. There is literally nothing more i can do for him.
He stresses himself out to this point and he always gets his way whenever he does things like these, ergo, he manipulates me.
 

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I don't see emotionally driven behaviors as manipulation. That's kind of like saying a scared kid is manipulating you into comforting him by crying. The dog is having a natural response to stress, which does cause you to react a certain way, but that doesn't mean the dog's behavior was a calculated action to get that behavior. It'd likely happen regardless of your response, because he doesn't know alternative ways to manage his stress or anxiety. Just like a scared kid will cry even if no one's there to comfort him.

I've seen a dog get up and bark as if there's someone at the door, setting the other dogs off into barking and running to check the windows. The first dog then went around and took the other dogs' chews. That's something I'd be more inclined to call manipulation, though I still think it'd be a stretch to say it's malicious. It's a very deliberate behavior not driven by intense emotion, that the dog did because she's a problem solver and it works to get her extra goodies.
 

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Let me clarify my original point. I don't like using words like 'extort' with dogs because it implies a degree of malice and forethought that they're just not capable of. I agree that you can use a word like 'manipulation' with certain, non-emotionally-driven dog behaviors, but 'manipulation' also has negative connotations. If we frame a behavior as manipulation in our minds, we're more likely to be frustrated, angry, or annoyed by the dog.

What I meant to suggest was that it's good to try to reframe this in our minds, and try to see these behaviors as problem solving, where the dog is trying to figure out what works best to get them the result they want. When we see it this way, it's easier to see solutions to training problems, because we're primed to be looking for what the dog is trying to achieve with their behavior. What's more, a dog who's clever at problem solving is an awesome thing! These dogs are often a ton of fun to train and work with, if you can find the right motivation for them.
 
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