Every now and again our furry friends do something that pushes our buttons. Does it mean that they are mad at us or testing boundaries? Perhaps that is the case, but not necessarily. They might not have any idea that you are angry until you show it. How you show that anger is very important, however. We want to make sure that doggy knows that they are being disciplined without endangering that trust that we are building. So, does your dog need a time out? Let’s discuss this and advise you on some ways to deliver a dog/puppy time which gets the message across without shouting it.
What is a ‘puppy time out’?
Much like raising a child, there are times when discipline is required and you need to have a plan in advance so that you know how to deal with negative behavior. Unlike a child, dog’s have memory system that is not necessarily as associative as our own. As a result, if your dog runs off with your lunch and it takes you awhile to catch them, they might not have any idea what you are so mad about. This can be a challenge, as bad behavior needs to be addressed immediately. This is where your puppy time out options come into play. So where do you put them for a ‘time out’? Well, a crate is a good idea. In a pinch, even the bathroom or laundry room is fine, just as long as they do not have too many things to interact with to get them distracted. Think of it as ‘grounding’ your dog from play privileges.
A puppy time out crate?
Yes, indeed. This can be an actual wooden crate large enough for your doggy or you can improvise. For instance, a used kiddy-playpen from a garage sale is good for a puppy time out crate. Some pet stores also offer fence frameworks that you can put together for making a ‘time out cubicle’. With one of these, when your doggy misbehaves you can scoop them up and put them in ‘puppy jail’. If you’ve caught them in the act, so to speak, then they will eventually realize that certain behavior means time in the crate. This is also good for potty training, as you can leave puppy in it overnight to keep them peeing or pooping the house, letting them out and immediately taking them outside in the morning and rewarding them with a treat as soon as they ‘do their business’.
Does time out really work for dogs?
You betcha! Dogs are extremely social creatures and when you put them in isolation like that then it really lets them know that you are displeased. It might take a few times but if you keep putting your doggy in the crate whenever you ‘catch them in the act’ of misbehaving they will learn to associate that behavior with a trip to the crate. You should start noticing improvements fairly quickly.
How to put a dog in time out properly
Puppy-prison can be an effective training tool as long as you follow a few guidelines. Some things to keep in mind when you are employing ‘crate training’:
- Outside doesn’t count as a crate – While it is tempting to simply put your dog outside when they do something bad, this won’t necessarily get the message through. There are lots of things to look at outside. Squirrels, birds, and thousands of new scents. Think of how much they explore when you take them for a walk and you’ll get the picture. Going outside is like doggy Disneyland and so it’s not a proper punishment..
- No toys in the crate – You want your doggy to be bored and isolated for the space of the time out. This means NO TOYS. This gives things time to sink-in and makes sure your doggy doesn’t just ignore the punishment by playing with the toys.
- 3-5 minutes is fine (with exceptions) – Your typical time out is going to run anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes. Be firm about this and when it is time to take your doggy out, do NOT take them out if they are barking or whining. Doing so will reinforce for them that barking or whining will get them out of the crate and you do not want this. Put them in the crate and as long as they are staying quiet then take them back out after 3 to 5 minutes.
” The less that there is to distract your dog the better.”
- Where to put the crate – You will want to place the crate in the most boring spot around the house that you can find. The less that there is to distract your dog the better. So no toys, no TV in the background (televised dog barks and all kinds of interesting sounds can set them off), and try for the least active area of the house. If you aren’t using an actual crate, a bathroom or laundry room is good, just make sure there are not things present that they can easily get into.
- Catch them in the act – Since it is hard to move at the speed of lightning to get over to the dog when they are doing something we don’t like, we have to limit ourselves to the speed of sound. Loudly stating ‘Puppy prison!’ or ‘Time out!’ will suffice. From there you can walk over, take a hold of the collar and walk them to the crate for their time out.
Some closing words
Today we have discussed the merits and proper delivery of time outs as a disciplinary measure for your dog. While it seems a bit dramatic, it is much healthier for both you and your dog to employ this method in lieu of more aggressive tactics. It gets the point across, you don’t have to lose your temper, and it doesn’t promote aggressive behavior the way some methods can. Just be patient and consistent in those time outs and you’ll see results very soon!