Do You Practice Timeouts with Your Dog?

Businessman sitting in Zen Lotus Position

How do you reach Zen?

As someone with four dogs I can attest to the fact that my dogs make me smile every day. However, there are also times when I need a break from them, and I imagine, there are times when they prefer not to be bothered by me as well.

Occasionally, even a dog lover needs a timeout from their dogs. I was reminded of that yesterday when a service man made a call to my house.  When he arrived I put Tosha and Elbee in their crates and gated Gavin and Annie in the back room. As the service man was doing his job, Jackie and I were both working and at one point it dawned on me how quiet it was in the house. Even my Aussie Gavin, who is so enamored with his own voice that he never gets tired of hearing it (something I believe many Aussie owners can attest to), settled down and was quiet. As I contemplated the silence for a moment I said to Jackie “You know we should do this more often.”

I work from home and while this affords me a lot of time with the dogs, it does distract from my work from time to time. I admit that sometimes I need to be reminded to get up from the computer and go for a walk or kick soccer balls. However, sometimes I need to have some peace and quiet to do my work in. With 4 dogs there is always competition for attention, toys, and various other things and sometimes my ability to concentrate is just not up to the task.

So why not have a timeout a regular and routine occurrence? For one thing, it will make the necessary timeouts less stressful for the dogs as it becomes the routine and not the extraordinary. Another reason is that it gives the dogs a break from each other. Four dogs equals constant competition for something. Because the dogs have different energy levels and personalities they aren’t all in the same mood at the same time. Separating them gives them needed down time from each other and reduces the need to keep score of who has what.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you need timeouts away from your dogs? If you have multiple dogs do they need timeouts from each other? What kind of timeouts do you practice? Do you see a difference in the dogs attitude towards you and each other after the timeout? Tell us what you think.


Kevin, Jackie, Gavin, Annie, Tosha, Elbee


12 thoughts on “Do You Practice Timeouts with Your Dog?

  1. If we get in a pre-noon hike most dogs will snooze for most of the day, unless a car goes by, or someone walks past, or I watch a youtube video with a barking dog….Come to think of it, I enjoyed our recent trip to Florida a lot, it was the ultimate time out.

  2. Interesting question! I work from home as well, and with a puppy, stuffed Kongs (or the time-consuming equivalent) are a necessity. I haven’t thought of them as time-outs, but in a way they are…

  3. I’ve been unemployed for 5 months now, and my pup has gotten attached to me being there. But I also think she’s gotten it into her head that she needs to alert me to every little thing. So now, I make sure to leave at least once a day for varying times. This gives her a break from me and me a break from her and keeps her used to the idea that I go places so hopefully there won’t be a problem when I find a new job.

  4. Well, I can attest to rotator cuff pain from playing enough fetch to keep Lilly quiet while I work (also at home). They do drive me batty sometimes, especially when they start humming for dinner … right at the end of the day … usually when I’m on deadline, and the noise is just TOO much.

    Indeed, even when Lilly is simply watching me and hoping (rather than demanding my attention), there are times I turn to her and whine, “Mommy can’t THINK with you looking at her!”

    Today, I worked outside (first warm day so far), and the dogs were barking at EVERYTHING because EVERYONE was outside in our valley. So, I did put them inside for a while … just to get some peace.

    I think it’s a balance. I like having them around while I work, but there are times when I just need a break from their motion, noise, or just their energy.

    • I think you hit the nail right on the head Roxanne. It is all about balance and keeping those relationships, whether human to canine, or canine to canine, on an even keel.

      We’re a bit out of sync with you today as we are cold and expecting snow here in the Smoky Mountains. Hoping for a bit of warmth and dryness myself.

  5. Totally agree with your points; I don’t think I would be able to focus my attention on anything else if my dogs didn’t self-impose their timeouts. But I also have to put the dogs in their own location so I could have a conversation with a human away from them and have, as Roxanne said, some peace! Balance of dog/no dog makes all of us better. (I also work from home.) Loved your comment about your Aussie never tiring of his voice…

    • Thanks Hilary. I used to say to Jackie that I could be blind and tell when an Aussie was on the course during an agility trial… barking before, during, and after every obstacle. 🙂

  6. We used to need time-outs when J.D. was little. He could just get completely out of hand. Didn’t need to put him in a time-out for a long time now.

    Sometimes I used a form of a time-out in the dog part, when he got a bit too wild with play.

    Other than that I have to say that our guys are golden. They get their walks and their fun and they don’t pester. They have their routine, I guess the down-time could qualify as kind of a time-out thing.

    I do think that incorporating such an idea into a daily routine is a good idea.

  7. Actually I’m pretty lucky. Sadie does not pester me except on rare occasions when she sits in from of me asking to be petting or drops a tennis ball at my feet. Since Sadie was a puppy who didn’t much like being touched, I never refuse her request for loving physical attention. The tennis balls? Sometimes I respond appropriately to her cuing me to throw the ball. If I ignore her cues, she wanders off and, like any good trainer, after a little time has passed, tries again. It works. I always end up throwing the ball down the hallway.

  8. I think my dogs give themselves time-outs. When they need quiet time, they go to other rooms, which is usually when I want to read a book or work on the computer anyway, so it’s pretty convenient. We let them be, because they’re pretty stuck on following us everywhere – a bc and a bc/aussie mix (who loves to hear himself and I’m happy to know he’s not the only one) – we know that when they go somewhere else for a nap, they want to be alone. When we first got the bc/aussie mix (at 1.5yrs as a stray with no training), he would get way too over stimulated and start stalking my other dog. Then, he got real time-outs in his crate with a kong till he settled – he definitely learned to be less of a jerk when he got excited. They’re both happy to settle in a crate or in a closed room if needed, but they do prefer to be together. I value the fact that they have down-time and I would continue to teach this to any future dogs.

    As a side note, the stalking behaviour made me try him on sheep, the barkscreaming was way too much for me to handle so we never tried it again. I’m glad that I never attempted agility with him! LOL

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