Category: Training

Time-outs, when used correctly, are an effective way to deal with unwanted behavior. But when you wish to use one there are a few rules you should keep in mind.

Let’s be clear:

time-outs are a form of punishment and punishment is something that needs to be used carefully or it becomes something else entirely, such as abuse, harassment, or nagging.

A time-out is social isolation. We are attempting to punish that is, decrease the frequency of a behavior by taking a dog away from one area and moving her to another. This is negative punishment. We are taking something away — access to other dogs, people, and/or toys.

This can be very effective for attention-seeking behaviors, such as biting, nipping, jumping up and barking. It is also effective for rowdy play. Follow these five rules, and you can be sure that your time-outs will work without any unwanted side effects.

Time-outs must be immediate

In order for a punishment to work it must be connected to the infraction. If you wait too long, how can the dog know what she did wrong? When you see the behavior you do not want, immediately remove her to a quiet spot.

Time-outs must be brief

Likewise, in order for the dog to realize she has been placed in a time-out, she needs to regain access to whatever was taken away quickly: very quickly, as in less than 3 minutes or so. If you wait too long she can forget what happened and it simple becomes a change in scenery.

Time-outs must be infrequent

As defined above, a punishment decreases the frequency of a behavior. If the behavior does not decrease it’s not working! Don’t keeping putting a dog in time-out and look for the behavior to change. It’s time to change your tactics and consider other resources such as cbd oil for dogs.

Time-outs must mean isolation

Taking a dog from a playgroup and putting her in a crate full of toys is not effective. It’s simply the end of play. A time-out must mean isolation from fun stuff. Since we have already established that it must be brief, this is not too punitive. (Note: if the dog “throws a fit” such as barking, don’t release her or she will learn that barking works!)

Time-outs must be emotionless

Don’t raise your voice or reprimand your dog. Simply say something like “uh-oh!” and calmly place her in the quiet and isolated area. Time-outs are not scary or punitive. (As a matter of fact, nothing should be scary or punitive!) Send a simple message: when you do X you lose access to Y. Nothing more, nothing less. If you follow this rule, you can use your crate for this, since you will not create any additional negative associations.