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You work long hours, as does your partner. Unfortunately, that means you have to leave your little dog for a lot of the day. But while you love having him jump up at you when you walk through the front door, he can no longer be trusted to be allowed to roam around. Too many times you have come home to find your cushions, rugs, and shoes have fallen victim to his mouth when he’s bored. So, you now want to train him to stay in just one room.
This type of training will protect your house from destruction when you aren’t around. If you have pets that fight, then this is also an effective preventative measure. It’s also worthwhile if you want to keep small children separate from your dog. Not to mention, if he has a habit of jumping up in the kitchen to steal food, this should prevent that.
Training any dog to stay in one room can be challenging, especially if they have spent most of their life being able to go wherever they want. Your work could also be made more difficult by the fact he is small. This is because he can squeeze through gaps and escape from a room easier than large dogs often can. So, training will consist of firstly preventing him from escaping until training has finished. You will then need to take steps to make the room enticing and full of everything he needs.
If he’s a puppy and still learning the rules, then he may respond to training relatively quickly. You could see results in just a week. However, if he is older and always had plenty of freedom, then you may need a few weeks. Get this training right and you won’t have to worry again when you leave him alone in the house.
For this training, you will need a few bits. Baby gates will be the first requirement. You will also need food puzzles, toys and a variety of tasty treats. A comfy bed and new blankets may also be needed for one of the methods below.
You will need to set aside a few minutes each day to begin with, to get him used to his new room.
Once you have all the above, you just need patience and a positive attitude, then work can begin!
The Routine Method
The first thing to do is make sure he gets plenty of exercise each day. If he is tired, he will be content just sleeping in one room. So, give him an extra long walk or throw a tennis ball for him as you go. The frequent sprinting will tire his little legs out.
To start with, only leave him in the room for a few minutes. You don’t want him to feel too isolated. The trick is to gradually increase the length of time you leave him in there for.
Once he has done 10 minutes in there, hand over a tasty treat and give him some verbal praise. You can let him out for a little while too. Give him plenty of attention when he is out the room.
Increase the time
Now place him back in the room, but this time leave him in there for 15 minutes. Continue to increase the length of time you leave him in there for each day.
Lose the treats
Once you can leave him in the room for a considerable length of period and even when you leave the house, then you can phase out the treats. By this point it will have become habit to stay in the room and he will no longer need a food incentive.
The Deterrence Method
Until training has finished, fit baby gates to prevent him from leaving the room. This will get him into the habit of staying in the room.
Morning and nightly walk
Secure him to a leash and walk him around the perimeter of the room twice a day. This will reinforce where his territory begins and ends. He will then naturally want to stay in his territory.
Place a treat in the room whenever he isn’t in there. This will get him associating that room with treats and soon enough he’ll go in there regularly searching for them. You can place one in there in the morning and evening. You could also hide the odd treat in there to make going to the room seem like a fun game.
You may also want to consider tethering him to a leash so he can’t get out of the room. This will further reinforce where his boundaries begin and end. By the time you start untethering him, staying in the room will have become habit.
Don’t punish him
It’s important he doesn’t think of the room as a place of punishment. So, if you do catch him wandering around when he should be in there, remain calm and quietly place him back in the room.
The Incentives Method
Try leaving the odd food puzzle in the room. This is particularly useful if you are going to leave him in there while you leave the house. This will keep him content and occupied when in the room.
Make sure he has new and exciting toys to play with in the room. This will help him associate the room with positive experiences. Not to mention, it will give him things to play around with when you aren’t there.
Make sure you spend a few minutes each day going in there and giving him attention. If he associates that room with a place that he gets all the love and attention he needs from an owner, then he will be more inclined to stay in there.
Feed him in there
Make sure you feed him his meals in the room. This will help make the room part of his consistent routine. But more importantly, it will get him thinking of the room as a place where he gets food.
Bed & blankets
Ensure his bed is in a nice comfy spot in the room. Preferably somewhere with two or three walls around him. This will make him feel more secluded. Put some comfy blankets in there to further make it feel like home.
By James Barra
Published: 02/12/2018, edited: 01/08/2021