The Benefit of the Doubt

"I just want to come in so I can go back out."
Every now and then a funny picture of a dog, captioned with the above text, circulates social media. Is your dog just being a pest or is there a good reason for wanting to go back out right after you let them in? That is the question.

Jasmine in the yard. Her belly was upset.

The truth is, one can never know for sure.

What is one to do? Ignore the request or oblige your dog potentially creating an unwanted routine?

Yes, dogs can be pests sometimes.

Particularly when it works. You put all the work into teaching your dog to ask for the door when they need to potty only to also teach them that they can get you let them out for any ol' reason such as checking up on the squirrel in the yard.

And the one time you decided to take charge of things is the time when they really need to go and you end up with a mess.

Quite a while ago I decided to give my dogs the benefit of the doubt.

Not because they don't ever find a way to abuse that but because they usually don't.

Some of these quirks are quite funny. Cookie will ask to have her water bowl refilled not because she wants water but because she wants the empty bottle. Yeah, every now and then she'll actually take a drink but in general, it is the bottle she's after.

She however only does that when she's bored and wants something to do. Who's fault is it that she's bored? Mine. Well, usually not mine but the weather's. When it's way too cold for walks, or when it's all icy, we need to stay in the house. I don't know about your dogs, but no amount of indoor play and activity makes up for a good walk with Cookie. She gets bored, looking for something to do.

So I refill the bowl and she has to sit for her bottle.

The first time ever Jasmine should have been given the benefit of the doubt she was quite little. She was the smartest dog ever and was potty trained in a week. That time, after dinner, hubby let her out to potty. She peed, returned into the house, and asked for the door again.

Hubby decided she was just being a pest and didn't let her out.

Just as he turned away, she pooped in the middle of the living room. She should have been given the benefit of the doubt.

There were times when she'd go through the exercise of going in and out a lot. I too figured she was just being a pest. Except that sooner or later she had a runny poop. Usually later. Back then we didn't know that she was suffering from IBD. It's fair to assume that her belly was uncomfortable, even though nothing was coming out [yet]. She thought she might have had to go. She thought that a several times until she actually did.

I learned to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Even though I often cringed at having to go open the door for her every five minutes. Ever had an upset belly? Ever went to bathroom several times on false alarm?

So when Cookie did that to me, I too gave her the benefit of the doubt.

She's actually quite a good girl. And if she gets pesty, she has a reason. Each time I felt she's just being a pest (but gave her the benefit of the doubt), she did have to go and had a runny poop.

So that is my rule. Giving the benefit of the doubt.

What about you? Did your dog every drive you crazy like that? Did he have a good reason?

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From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
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Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Observation Skills Of Dogs  
If You Want Your Dog To Do Something, Teach It  
Tricks? It's Not Just About The Tricks 
What Constitutes The Perfect Dog?
Are Dog Training Classes Really For The Dogs?  
Look Where You Want To Go: Finding My Reactive Dog Training Zen Zone? 
Dog Training And Emotions 
Dog Training And Emotions: Postscript
Dogs Love Sentences In Question Form?
Not All Dog Trainers Were Created Equal Either 
A Thought On Separation Anxiety
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
About Freedom, Trust And Responsibility: A "Pilot Study"
So, We Have A Bear 
About Happiness: What Makes Your Dog Happy? 
Our Example Of The Use Of "Look At That" (LAT) 
Why Do Dogs Dig?
Who Is In The Wrong?
Your Dog Wants To Follow You. You Just Gotta Be Going Some Place
We Still Have Two Dogs: A "Pilot Study" Part Two  
Early Winter Safety: Exploring New Territories
Cookie Is Okay. We ... Might Be, Eventually. (Don't Try This At Home)
One Thing I Love About Winter: I See What They "See" 
Give Your Dog What They Need, Get What You Want
Cookie, The First Of The Great Hunting Rottweilers  
Distance Is a Relative Concept  
Dog Communication: Be Good to Cookie or She'll Tell on You 


  1. Thank you for your thoughtful kindness at giving us the benefit of the doubt - sometimes we just want to howl at the moon, but sometimes… well we have other things on our mind (tummy upsets, etc.). Plus it's good to always monitor our habits - to see what's out of the norm!

    1. Howling at the moon is an important business sometimes :-) Being stripped of the natural freedom to come and go as you please, you deserve much benefit of the doubt.

  2. Yes, I do give Haley the benefit of the doubt since you never know what a dog's feeling on the inside. Unless it becomes some obsessive routine, I think it's better to be safe. Cookie's water bowl routine is funny, they sure love those water bottles, don't they?

    1. Sometimes dogs do create new routines. Such as the one with the water bottles. But because usually we cannot tell whether they really need something or just want to start a new routine, benefit of the doubt is a good policy IMO

  3. If I'm honest, I quite often ignore Henry's 'bell ringing' when he's just come back in. He likes to go out and chase the squirrels out of our yard. Reese won't ring the bells but will sit by the door. I never ignore Reese.

    1. As long as you know what the motivation behind asking out is :-)

  4. I always give my dogs the benefit of the doubt when it comes to going outside, With my old 16 year old dog I could never be sure if she just forgot that she had just been outside, or if she needed to go again.

    1. Yes, with an older dog it's even more important.

  5. I think that is good advice to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Ace never asks to go outside, but sometimes he whines for other reasons like if he wants water or food or attention. Well, just last week he was whining by the door and I ignored him, thinking he was just whining for attention like he does quite often.

    Then after awhile, I realized he actually was (for pretty much the first time ever) asking to go out. So we went out, and boy did he have to go, like emergency status. I felt so bad for not taking him out right away, and he was such a good boy and held it.

    Sigh ...

    1. Aah, sorry for Ace's stress. Glad it worked out and he got to get outside on time.

      Happened with Jasmine once, when she was little. Except I was in the shower and didn't hear it right away. When I heard it it was more of a scream than a whine. She shot out the door and her bum exploded with diarrhea. Poor girl held it for dear life too.

  6. Dex never does stuff like this - I dont know if that means he's weird or I am lol

    1. Or he's just feeling well and happy where he is :-) And no squirrels to keep an eye on LOL

  7. I'm glad Laika doesn't pester me like she does my boyfriend. She really takes advantage of the fact that if she gets him outside he'll probably end up playing with her. She's got him trained so well lol.

    1. Smart girl. Good thinking. Once the human is off their bum, maybe I can get them do something fun. Good argument.

  8. Lol Jada likes to go in and out all the time! It is usually when we are at someone else's house so I get worried that she might have an accident and just let her have her way. I think she likes to smell all the new smells and pee on everything she can! xD

    1. I can see that. Makes perfectly good sense that she'd want to do that :-)

  9. I always give my pets the benefit of the doubt. Usually if they do something wrong, it's my fault, not theirs.

    --Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats

  10. I learned my lesson the one night when Leroy kept trying to wake me up. I thought he was just being a goof but it turns out he had to pee. Since then I've learned to listen to his footsteps when he comes in our bedroom at night. A fast walk means he has to go now!

    1. Sorry about having to learn the hard way. Such a keep observation, being able to tell by the sound of his footsteps! With Jasmine, I always knew whether she was limping or not just by the sound of it too. Didn't have to see anything.

  11. Harley has a way of patting the laundry room door a gazillion times because that's where his treats are stored. I try not to give in,but he so darn cute. That's his pesty side!

    1. LOL I can see why he'd want to go there :) Fortunately, in this case there is no confusion about his motives.


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