Dear Julie,

I am the proud new owner of a 9 months old beagle, who I’ve been told by my dog trainer, is very dominant and pushy.  She recommended giving my dog time outs in her crate when she does not listen but I’m concerned that this will cause her to become afraid of her crate.  Can you time your dog out in their crate with out them learning to hate it?


Time Out Weary

Dear Time Out Weary,

Using the time out theory, when executed properly in conjunction with positive reinforcement training techniques, can be a very effective training tool.  However, like all training techniques, it is not necessarily the right tool for every dog.  If you have confidence in your choice of a qualified trainer, you can be assured that she has evaluated your dog’s personality type and sees the potential for this technique to be beneficial.  Dogs learn the majority of their early year information through action meets consequence.  Since most dogs have the strong desire to be close to their human companions, removing them from what they desire as the consequence to an action helps to discourage the action.

You can use the crate as the location providing you change the environment of the crate prior to the time out.  For example, if your dog has a bed or blanket in their crate, remove the bed or blanket before placing your dog in a time out.  Over time your dog will associate the crate as there sleep place when their bed or blanket is in it and only anticipate a time out when they see their bed or blanket removed.  You can also use a laundry or bathroom as your time out location providing you remove all hazardous material that may be within your dog’s reach.

Here is an example of an effective time out process I like to call the, ‘3 Strikes you’re out’ rule.  If your dog does not respond to your command by the count of 3;

  • Use a verbal correction (HEY!), count to two in your head and give the original command again.
  • If the behaviour continues or your dog does not comply with your command, use a verbal correction and repeat the original command.
  • If your dog has not responded by the third command; say TIME OUT!
  • Without saying another word, lead your dog to his crate and put him into a three minute time out.
  • Remove all toys and bedding from the area prior to the time out.
  • When he comes out of his crate, take him back to the situation that earned him the time out.   If it was a command, make him do the command.  If it was a house hold rule, take him back to the area and see if he repeats the behaviour.
  • When he does respond to the command or does not repeat the behaviour, provide him instant confirmation with an up beat, “YES”, followed with lots of praise.