Teaching Dogs Patience

It’s Not Just For Kids!

The time-out is a useful tool in parenting small children. But did you know it can be an effective strategy in teaching dogs as well? Using a time-out well can help teach your dog what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. Let’s take a closer look at how to use this clever technique with your furry friend!

When Should I Use Time-Outs?

The “time-out” is a useful tool for eliminating many unwanted behaviors in dogs. Repeatedly interrupting an unwanted behavior and immediately giving your dog some time alone can rapidly decrease the frequency of that behavior. Time-outs are especially effective in discouraging the following common problems:

Harassment of another pet (chasing the cat, playing too roughly with another dog, etc.)

Attention-seeking behaviors, like barking, pawing, whining or mouthing

Jumping up, mouthing and rowdy behavior when greeting visitors

Mouthing clothes, hands or feet during play

Begging during mealtimes

It may take some time and effort, but if you consistently deliver time-outs when your dog does something you don’t like, he’ll soon decide that the activity isn’t much fun after all!

How Do I Use Time-Outs?

The Technique

Here’s an example of how to use time-outs to teach your dog to stop putting his paws on the table while you’re eating.

If possible, prepare a time-out room in advance. Choose a safe, small space, like a bathroom or a laundry room. Make sure that the area is free of toys and things your dog might destroy.

When you’re home and can supervise, keep a lightweight leash clipped to your dog’s collar, and let him drag it around.

The instant your dog’s paws touch the table, say “Too bad!” Then immediately pick up the leash and march him to the time-out room. (If you don’t have a small room to use or think that your dog might have fun in his time-out area, shut the leash in the door to limit his movement.)

Wait 10 to 30 seconds. Then, if your dog isn’t barking, let him out of the room and pretend that nothing happened. If he does bark while in time-out, wait for him to stop.

If your dog puts his paws on the table again, march him right back to time-out. Repeat as many times as necessary. If your dog does not jump up on the table, seize the opportunity to reinforce his good behavior. He’s starting to understand what you’re trying to teach him! Let him know how clever he is by giving him plenty of praise, petting or a treat.
– via ASPCA

 Teaching Dogs with Time-Out

To be truly effective, you need to develop clear boundaries that your dog is able to understand, and employ a never-changing vocabulary and behavior toward your dog. If you mix things up, your dog may get confused. Here are a few more tips for making your time-out as effective as possible in teaching dogs what you want them to learn!

A Time Out (TO) can be used to reduce “rude” behaviors like playing too rough, and non-fearful barking. The most important thing to remember about the TO is that it should be used sparingly. Removing your dog from his social circle is a punishment to him and punishments can have side-effects. One possible side-effect with the TO is that he decides that your walking towards him is a “bad thing”, because it sometimes leads to him being put in time out. This is why it is best to use the TO in moderation and put more effort into prevention and teaching him manners using rewards.

Tips: The frequency of the misbehavior should begin to decrease after applying the TO about 5 times. In order to permanently change his behavior, keep applying the TO each time the misbehavior occurs. If your dog tries to avoid having you catch him after you say “time out”, that’s understandable and tends to lessen with time. Just calmly continue after him while repeating “time out” every few seconds until you succeed in putting him in TO (and then put a drag-line on for next time).- via www.petexpertise.com

Have you ever used a time-out with your dog? What are the most effective strategies you’ve found for teaching dogs what you need them to learn?

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