You can use Time Outs if your dog is exhibiting an unwanted behavior that you simply cannot redirect or control. Whenever she just goes over the top, put her in a time out for as long as needed by the individual dog to calm down. This is typically 2-5 minutes but may be longer in some cases.
If your dog is persistently exhibiting unwanted behavior, keep a long line or drag leash on her at all times. When it comes time for a Time Out, the long line gives you access to lead her to her Time Out spot in a safe, neutral manner.
How to do it:
Pick out a word or phrase you’ll use as your Time Out cue (e.g., “Time Out”,”I’m sorry,” “Too Bad”, “Uh Oh,” “Cool Down,” etc). Say your Time Out cue, pick up the leash or long line, and walk your dog calmly to the designated Time Out spot. Be sure to remain neutral and refrain from giving your dog attention which can both reinforce or escalate the behavior.
Your Time Out spot can be a laundry room, bathroom, extra room, or even an extra crate. Remove soft blankets, toys and treats so your dog does not have access to valued resources that may unintentionally reward their behavior.
Have a tie-down spot in your backyard where you can clip your dog and walk away. When you are away from your house, carry a carabiner so you can clip your dog’s leash to a fence or wrap it around a tree and walk a ways away.
A couple things about Time Outs:
- Be neutral when you say your Time Out cue. The consequence should not be frightening to the dog, emotional on the human end, or damaging to the relationship.We are curbing an unwanted behavior through removal of valued resources (access to their human, toys, free reign of the space, etc.) and helping the dog to calm so a behavior does not escalate and become unsafe.
- Your dog should not exit Time Out until they are demonstrating safe, appropriate behavior. Â When she comes out, maintain your especially calm, neutral behavior for two minutes and then resume life as if nothing ever happened. If she repeats the offense, she goes right back to Time Out.
- Meanwhile, establish clear rules and boundaries so she also knows what is expected of her. Successfully modifying a behavior hinges primarily onÂ teaching dogs what weÂ do want themÂ to do. Actively teach replacement behaviors for those behaviors you do not want and be sure to always catch your dog doing something good!In a nutshell, your approach should look like this:
- Lavishly reward any and all behaviors you do want her to do,
- Ignore behaviors that are just annoying or aren’t such a huge deal (but you would like to stop happening), and
- Give time outs for behaviors you simply cannot redirect and are damaging or dangerous (such as excessive mouthing or jumping).
This makes the rules very clear and sets both you and your dog up for success.