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Behavior Mod.

That’s it! You are in Time-out!

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To some this may sound silly. A time-out? Really? What if I told you that this is a punishment method that you can have a lot of success with? What if I told you that you could take all human emotions out of punishment and still have success?

Punishment by definition is something that decreases the frequency of a behavior. There are two ways to punish a dog. You can add something that the dog doesn’t like, or you can take away something that the dog does like. Here is an example of how to take away something the dog does like: A guest arrives at your house and your dog is jumping all over them. Instead of adding something aversive, we can take the dog away from what it wants, which in this case is the person. Enter a time-out.

My time-out consists of this: Dog does a behavior, e.g. jumping on person, I say my verbal marker that the behavior is incorrect which for me is “no.” I then give the dog one more chance to make a decision. If the dog makes the incorrect decision I say “too bad” followed by the dog being brought away from the human. I set the timer (imaginary) for a minute or two and then allow the dog to try again. Once the time is up I let him try to meet the person. There is a very good chance he will make the incorrect decision because this takes more than one repetition in most cases. If he makes the incorrect decision I repeat the process, if he makes the correct decision, which is not jumping, I ask the guest to praise and reward the dog. (Ultimately focusing on teaching the dog what the correct thing to do is better than focusing on punishment. This is just an example of how to use a time-out for your dog.)

A few keys to having success with using a time-out system include timing, consistency, and letting the dog know what the correct thing to do is. Your job is basically to be a coach. Timing and consistency is key because in order for this to be effective the dog has to realize that every time it jumps on someone, it gets removed from what it likes, which in this case is the human. If half the time the dog is allowed to jump, and the other half of the time he is punished for jumping, the dog will never figure it out, because you are doing a poor job of coaching.

Once again, in most cases, reinforcing the behavior you do want is far more effective than punishing. The point of this article is to show how you can use negative punishment to your advantage for those tricky situations.

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org)  and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V,  follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

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  1. Avatar Of Kathy Kathy says:

    My Pomchi used to bark at night. About 7pm or so he would bark and bark and bark, always at the back room/door. I tried rewarding quiet behavior, showing him alternate behaviors all with little success. He would stop barking for a short time then get right back to it. One day I had been on a long walk and was exhausted when I got home I just wanted to sit around and lick my wounds but of course that night at 7 he started again. I had no desire to ‘teach’ I just wanted quiet. (ya I know bad owner bad) so I got up and put him in his kennel and went back and sat down. He looked at me in stunned shock, this had never happened before. When he was able to be quiet for a period of time I let him out. he didn’t bark again that night. Next night he started about 7 again. Into the kennel. No yelling no scolding nothing just popped him into the kennel closed it and walked away. He quieted down quicker. It took about a week before he stopped barking at night, now there is the odd alert bark and that is acceptable but its normally bark bark done. No none stop barking. Time out has some amazing results.

  2. Avatar Of Monika



    This is a great way to teach any dogs still being trained to learn and understand that their behavior is wrong! I totally agree that reinforcement is key – the dog must know what behavior is not okay, and that the behavior is not okay all the time, not just some of the time. Consistency on the owner will help any pup understand that. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Avatar Of Rocko'S Mom Rocko's Mom says:

    Thor & GynGyn, my two adoptees, will get each other overly excited to where they’re getting in trouble. A quick time out in their crates is all it takes. They just need a couple minutes apart to settle down. Sometimes just saying “do you want a time out?” is enough!

  4. Avatar Of Sandy



    Ummm I have a Jack Russell Terriest (jokingly) that’s very vocal so when I would give her a time out from something like a quest visiting wherever I put her she starts barking an it goes on an on.I finally bought a bark collar that seems to be the only way to keep her quite 🙁 I hate using it an when its on she is a totally different dog. Hate,hate,hate using it have tried everything to no avail an nothing seems to work. Any other suggestions other than the dog whisper lol.

  5. I did this just yesterday: two dogs playing in a fenced yard. One happy to run and play with a raggy-bone, the other decided something was hiding under a wooden walkway and she needed to dig it out. I tried everything to distract/dissuade her. Finally I took her by the collar and led her back to her pen. She watched Malachi play for about 5 minutes, then I let her out. She returned to her dig site. I gave her a cautionary “no…” and she decided to go play with Malachi instead.

  6. Avatar Of Caryn Kruger-Sidman

    Caryn Kruger-Sidman


    When removing the dog from an unwanted behavior is it okay to put them in their kennel?

    • My typical response is if the dog does not have an issue with the kennel it should be fine. I have done it with a lot of dogs that were fine with their kennels with no ill effects. I probably wouldn’t do it with a dog that is already having issues with the kennel. The idea isn’t to add something that is unpleasant, but to take away something pleasant. If you do it, and your dog does start to show any signs of not liking its crate, I would try using a bathroom etc.

  7. Avatar Of Patti



    I’m going to try this with boys. There is a good recipe for Sweet Potato dog treats on this website
    Hugs, Patti

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