This time-out technique can be used to address self-rewarding barking or jumping up, inappropriate mouthing or play biting and other undesirable behaviours that require an active approach rather than ignoring.
The Time-Out Technique
The response to inappropriate behaviour must be instantaneous and agreed with the whole family and anyone who will be involved with the dog. It needs to be identified what will be acceptable and what isn’t (E.g. is it just biting that hurts which is unacceptable? or any mouth-skin contact including licking or mouthing).
- I would recommend leaving a trailing lead or houseline on your dog at all times if there is a behaviour you want to work on as it gives you easy access to get hold of them if they’re giving you the run around and will be used for the time-out instead of grabbing the collar which can be frightening.
- When they behave inappropriately, immediately (so they make the association between behaviour and time-out) but quietly, pick up the lead or step on their lead leaving just enough length so they can stand up comfortably but not move any further (about 8 inches or so). Completely ignore anything they do during the time-out – no talking to them, eye contact, touching them etc as this will be rewarding to the dog. Expect them to whine, have a puppy paddy, a wriggle and tantrum that may last anything from a couple of seconds to a few minutes.
- Once they have calmed down, stopped whining, barking, pulling on the lead etc. simply let go of the lead or step off the lead and calmly walk away.
- Once they have got used to how time-outs work, the length of time it takes for them to calm down will reduce to only a few seconds and eventually the undesirable biting will stop.
- The key with time-outs is timing and consistency – keep this at the forefront of your mind and it will be well worth it! Do not be dismayed if it takes you 5-10 repetitions for the dog to have that ‘light-bulb’ moment. All dogs will learn at their own pace.
If your dog is still trying to bite/mouth you during the time out then the time out will not work as they’re still practicing the undesirable behaviour. In this situation you can use a doorway instead. Using the trailing lead put your dog through the doorway and close the door trapping the lead in the door so your dog is on one side of the door and you are on the other side still holding the lead then follow the steps from above. Once they are calm, open the door allowing them back into the room and walk away.
- If you require more help with time outs please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call: 01482 832555 and leave a voicemail for the training team.