What is a time-out?
A technique used to teach a dog to stop doing something we don’t like, just like you would do with a child. The idea of the time-out, in essence, is the removal of fun. We do this by removing the dog from the situation or by restricting his access to an object, person, or dog.
What can a time-out look like?
- Putting your dog in a bathroom or other room away from you and close the door or behind a baby gate.
- Putting your dog on a leash/tethering.
- Walking your dog away from an object, person, or dog he wants to get to.
- Leaving the room yourself or stopping the game.
Examples of what to use time-outs for.
- Inappropriate dog-dog play (nipping, rough wrestling, or incessant barking) or greetings.
- Jumping on people to greet them.
- Demand barking.
- If your dog gets mouthy or jumpy during playtime with you.
How to use a time-out.
When your dog engages in the inappropriate behavior you want to change simply take him by the collar, of if that poses a problem, clip his leash on and escort him to his time out spot. Do not do this in an angry way, be very matter-of-fact about it. It was your dog’s behavior that caused the time out, not you. There is no need to say anything to your dog, simply remove him. For time-outs to work they must be given every time your dog engages in the target behavior; at the very second he begins. Consistency is key. Release your dog after 30 seconds to try again.
A few last words about time-outs
First, a time-out must be delivered every single time the problem behavior happens at the moment the behavior starts. A behavior that still works occasionally will be very hard to get rid of.
Second, a time-out should be delivered in a mild, calm, pleasant way. The lost opportunity to socialize is plenty of punishment for a sociable dog.
Third, even time-outs are unfair if you don’t teach your dog what behavior you do want in place of the behavior you’re trying to get rid of. Give attention and rewards for desired behaviors.
Fourth, if your dog seems upset or frightened by a time-out, rather than just disappointed, then time-outs are too harsh. Time-outs are also inappropriate for dogs with separation anxiety