As dog trainers in Toms River, NJ we are asked questions about dog behavior all the time.  Recently, we had a friend ask us how to stop her puppy from unwanted behaviors if she shouldn’t be using the crate for punishment.  Here is her question:

 “He has these barking and Indy 500 episodes so if I can’t get him to chill out after a while, I tell him he is going to “time out…” I can see how it could be a mixed signal, but what else should I do? A child sleeps and plays in their room but when they are punished they are told to GO TO THEIR ROOM. What do you suggest I do when he is being “bad” or needs a time out?

Great question, Danielle!  We prefer the crate to have a positive association with it.  This will prevent hesitation to go in the crate in the future.  A lot of child experts now recommend using an area outside of the bedroom as well.   Every dog needs a job and we can help teach you a job for him that will be a great tool during the course of his life.  The best time to utilize this exercise is just before the bewitching hour.  The mental stimulation typically circumvents the Nascar feeling.

My Dog Needs A Time Out

Frosty and his mom practicing Place

All you need is a bathmat or small (omit area) rug for him to sit/lay on, it must be big enough for him to comfortably stand on it with all four feet.  Have him on a leash and walk him up to the mat, put him on it and tell him “Place.”  Walk away while facing him about 3 feet.  He must keep all 4 feet on the mat.  He can lay dog, sit or stand, but all 4 feet must be on it.

Once he understands that he needs to stay there, you can start increasing how far away you are from Place and the length of time he has to stay there.  When you first start challenging this exercise, you will keep the leash in your hand and stand as far away as the leash will let you.  Once you are confident standing that far away, you can begin to upgrade to a longer leash and do it from further away.  The most important thing you can do: If he gets up when you haven’t released him, take the leash, walk him back up to Place and reset him WITHOUT saying a word.   His job is to stay there until you release him.

The good thing about this exercise and using a mat is that it is portable, so you can bring it to your parents, your friends, a marketing event and the rules are the same: Stay right here until I release you.  You will impress everyone with your well behaved dog in any environment.

Cheat to win!  If you know you are going to be on the computer working, set Place up near you.  Loop the leash handle around your wrist so you can feel him move off the rug without having to be quite so focused on him.

It will be a lot of work in the beginning, but it is an amazing command.  What will you do when your dog is full grown and the pizza man rings the door bell?  Tell him, Place.  What happens when you eat dinner, or you have company over and you don’t want him begging for food?  Tell him, Place.  If you drop a glass vase that shatters and he starts running over to inspect the noise?  Tell him, Place.  You have a car full of groceries and need to keep the front door open and don’t want to trip on him coming in and out of the house?  Tell him, Place.

There are a million ways Place will be beneficial to you and your dog.  He needs something to do to occupy his “free” time and you need him to be safe and well mannered at all times.