Chances are you are familiar with the concept of “time outs”. A time out is something you will hear of being used for kids, puppies, and dogs. The bottom line about a time out is that it is punishment. Should a time out be part of life with our dog? Are we using a time out due to our inadequacies as a trainer for our dog?
In the episode you'll hear:
- Lessons I learned about using time outs.
- The science of time outs.
- About the three different forms of time outs.
- The reality of what I’m saying to my dog if I give a time out.
- How getting better at reinforcement will reduce punishment.
- Why you need to see a change of behaviour if you use a time out.
- The reasons you need to ensure your dog knows how to be right.
- When a time out might actually be reinforcing for a dog.
- The importance of being non-emotional.
- Why you need to know the patterns of your use of time outs.
- How to use a time out effectively.
- Ways you can minimise using time outs.
Struggling with the fallout of time outs hard right now. We got our rescue dog, Jack ( 1.5 year old chihuahua mix) about 4 months ago. For the first 2 months he bit us constantly- and I mean constantly, unless he was eating, on a walk, or actively training or playing. He didn’t sleep during the day while we were in the house for 3 months, and still struggles to settle at all. In order for us to get some respite from him to do important things like take showers and eat food ( And get a break from being chewed on) we put him in an x pen. Now at the 4 month mark, being put in the x pen results in him whining, pacing, and peeing in his bed. He isn’t able to be left alone in the house, or any room unsupervised for any amount of time yet because he is a shredder/chewer who likes to eat whatever it is he has gotten into. We are working on IYC, crate games, and have started Home school the dog and have reached out to a local FF trainer, as well as consulted our vet, but it seems very much like there aren’t great ways for us to keep him safe while not reinforcing his clear anxiety issues. Luckily his behaviors aren’t so extreme yet that he is a danger to himself while confined, and he seems to do well when he knows we aren’t in the house. But for him, knowing we are nearby, but being unable to access us is extremely punishing.
I loved this podcast. The most salient part to me was the concept of the inadvertent time out. So grateful to you for raising my awareness of that. It makes me also realize that having dogs in agility class and taking turns with them probably feels a lot like time outs. Thank you!
I wish we could have hired you 4 years ago when Zak came home. Unfortunately I didn’t know about you then, and we had a very difficult border collie puppy on our hands. We made several mistakes at the beginning which caused extra problems, but he was very stubborn, bossy, and high drive. He was higher on the spectrum than our past 2 BC’s and we weren’t prepared for that. I absolutely own our mistakes.
There were several things he knew we didn’t want him to do, and he would look right at us, make sure we were watching, then go do them. He was also a biter. Never broke skin, but bit us every day. Even just walking down the hallway, he’d reach up his little head for a nibble at our hand. Every day for 9 months we got bit. We tried all the suggestions… yelp, ‘Ouch’, turn around, ignore, walk away, ‘No’. We had several trainers, and his breeder giving us advice … hold his nose and say no, bite him back. You name it, we tried it. I read articles online, I put the most sour spray I could find on my hands (which in the end I paid the price for). Nothing worked. Nothing changed. One day he was getting into the ‘grass’ of a fake tree… one of his favorite past times… right behind me. I calmly got up, took his collar, said nothing, walked him to his kennel (which was in the same room), closed the door, went back to my chair and kept working. 10 minutes later I let him out and we went about our day.
Just as you said at the end of the podcast, I was mainly putting him in the kennel so I could regroup. I didn’t know what else to do, and I wanted to think. I didn’t want to try ‘correcting’ him again since it wasn’t working. He never played with the grass in the tree again after that time out. So, I tried that same thing the next time he bit me. He only bit us one more time (which I did the same calm collar, calm kennel, calm release 10 minutes later). After that, he never bit us again. The behavior stopped.
I am guilty of using the kennel as a time out in a more negative way (in the past) … just as you described ‘oh my gosh, look what you did, get in your kennel’. Listening to your podcasts, doing the Home School classes, has shown me a whole new way … and even though it’s only been a few weeks, I do see a slight improvement in our relationship. Fortunately, outside of a few more difficult issues (over-excited people greetings, doorbell barking) I’m trying to figure out how to solve, Zak is a really good boy (despite my early mistakes). But I just wanted to share an example of how time outs did help us; however, just as you said – it was the calm, I need to think, short, time out. Not the ‘Get in your kennel NOW’ time out.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and putting together programs to help all of us train a better way!
Just great. Wow thank you so much. I can take this info away and try to improve my how and when to give time out.
I loved this podcast! I had a lot of questions about time outs. You did such a great job of listing examples of what counts as a time out, how to use them, how long, and things to avoid. I think I have a much better understanding, and of course the fact that they represent a trainer failure rather than a dog failure. As always, I really enjoyed listening and came away with a lot of new information to improve my approach and my relationship with my dog.