Time Out For Dogs

Look at that face, I know, it’s beyond cute. He’s so soft and fluffy and innocent looking, too sweet to be believed.

That’s what we thought too when we brought him home.

When Steve first held Boo Boo at the adoption place, this small puppy curled up on his chest, and put his soft wet nose up to steve;’s chin and made sweet little snuffly noises.

What a gem, we thought. The we got him home.

This was our first dog, so we had no idea what to expect, but we had read some puppy books and watched a lot of DOG Whisperer, so we thought we knew exactly what we were doing.

Plus, we thought, how hard could a puppy be? Luckily for use we had the help of a professional to teach us everything we needed to know. Check out the highlights of what we learned at the bottom of the blog post!


First Impressions Can Be Deceiving

Remember how sweet we said Boo Boo was when we first met him? Well first impressions can be deceiving!

We had met other puppies before, they were silly and troublemakers, but they were adorable and they slept. A lot. We assumed he would be the same.

He was demonic. He was a terror.

During the day, he never slept. I mean never. He would make us think he was sleeping, he would actually close his eyes and lull us into a false sense of security. The we would walk by him and he would be up. Like a flash. He would yowl at us, shout at us, it was a sound somewhere between a chicken and a howler monkey.

His eyes would get that crazed look and he would run around house like a possessed thing.

But his favorite thing in the world was to pull my pants down. I wear a lot of exercise pants, and he would run up behind me, grab my pants wherever he could with his sharp little teeth and pull. He weighed 15 lbs but he put some speed and momentum behind it, like the rabbit n the Holy Grail, flying at me with teeth bared.

Grab and pull, grab and pull. I showed my neighbors a lot of my butt in those days.

Calling In The Professionals

We had signed up for puppy classes at SF puppy prep and before admitting the dogs to their programs they did a home visit. So the trainer showed up.

Immediately our puppy menace was as sweet as pie. He gazed up at her, he was quiet. He pretended to sleep in her lap.

But then we got up to show her our little yard space behind our house, and he couldn’t control himself. Her yowled, he pulled my pants down, his eyes glowed.

And the trainer, smooth as silk, said “that’s too bad” picked him up, and put him in our office and closed the door. And we all waited until he stopped barking, then she said “try again” and let him out.

He went for my pants again, and again, “that’s too bad”, pick up, put in room, close door. Repeat a few times and suddenly….he didn’t go for my pants again. We were speechless. It had worked!

She told us these time outs could be used for a variety of offenses: counter-surfing, excessive barking, furniture chewing.

She made a point that we should also pick him up at other times just for cuddles so that he wouldn’t think every time we held him it was because he was in trouble.

Here are the highlights:

  • As soon as the bad behavior happens, say the second he grabs my pants, say “that’s too bad”. Say it, don’t yell it.

  • Pick up dog, if you can’t pick your dog, lead gently by the collar, or attache leash to collar and lead to time out room.

  • Put dog in and close door or baby gate. Make sure dog can’t get hurt or on more trouble in whatever space she’s in.

  • Leave dog alone for period of time. We started with about 20-30 seconds

  • As he got older and we wanted to really make an impression we leave him in there for longer, maybe 1 minute

  • If pup is barking a lot, scratching door, etc, don’t let her out. Wait for a moment of calm and quiet

  • Even if the quiet just lasts for a second, let her out only when the barking, etc has stopped. You want to let her know she gets let out when she’s not barking.

  • Before you let her out say something like “try again”

  • Repeat as necessary