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You may have certain rooms in your house you do not want your dog to visit. Whether it is a guest room you would like to keep free of pet hair, a room with fragile knickknacks, or even a room where the cat uses his litter box, it does not matter the reason; it is important to you if you want your dog to stay away from it. This becomes beneficial when you have company over and you want to keep your dog out of a certain area temporarily. This also works, of course, when you do not want your dog in a room at all. Many people don't allow their dogs in the kitchen because they do not want animal fur on their counters or in their food or even in the air around cooking supplies.
You can teach your dog to stay out of a certain room with simple and consistent training. Boundary training is what you will be teaching when you let your dog know he is allowed to go to certain places and not to others. Once you have your dog trained to stay in certain areas, or out of other areas, you can teach boundary training outdoors as well. Be patient with training as your dog gets used to where he can be and where he cannot be. Giving your dog boundaries will actually strengthen your relationship with your dog. He wants to see you as the leader of his pack so he will look for boundaries from you, but be prepared because he will also push boundaries every now and then.
To teach your dog to stay out of a certain room in your home, you are going to want to be sure to have a way to block off the room during training and a way to watch your dog while you are teaching him not to go into that room. Be sure once you pick a room your dog is not allowed to enter, that you keep it off-limits when you are not supervising so he is not set up to fail. Have tasty treats on hand to reward your dog for good behavior and a key phrase like ‘ah ah’ or ‘uh oh’ to use when your dog pushes those boundaries and enters the room he is not supposed to enter.
The Leash Method
Even though this room is probably within your home, you will want to put your dog on a leash when you introduce this space to your dog. Whether this is a new home for you and your dog or whether this is a new puppy for your home, you're going to want to control how you introduce this personal space to your dog so he understands it's not his space.
If you have yet to teach your dog to heel, you may want to try to teach this more advanced command before you introduce your dog to this room that is off-limits. However, if he does not know heel, that's okay, just keep him on a leash and in your control.
While on the leash, walk past the room with your dog in your control. If he stops or pauses to sniff or scope out the room, keep walking and offer praise once you're past the entrance.
Along with verbal praise, once you have passed an opportunity to enter the room, give him a treat and tell him he's a good boy.
While you're training your dog to stay out of this particular room, you may want to keep the area blocked off with a baby gate. However, over time as he learns that he's not allowed in this room, you can also use simple objects such as painter's tape, which will stand out against your floor so that he can see a defined line between where he is allowed and where he is not.
Practice with your dog on the leash several times before you allow your dog to roam free on his own. Be sure to watch your dog closely when he is off leash so you can correct and redirect his behavior if he crosses the line.
Once you have ended barriers such as baby gates and moved on to a different kind of line definition such as painter's tape on the floor, you can correct your dog if he crosses the boundary. You will have to catch him in the act to do this. Be sure not to correct him later if you catch him in the room because he will not connect an action from earlier to a punishment or consequence happening in the moment.
If you catch your dog in the act of crossing that threshold or that magical blue painter's tape line, you can redirect your dog by reminding him of where he can go.
Be sure your rules about this particular space are well-defined and you are consistent every day. For example, if this room is a formal dining room and you are training him to stay out all the time, don't let him in when you are in there vacuuming the floors but then scold him when you have company over for a dinner party. Just remain consistent and set your rules as defined so your dog understands he's never allowed in that space.
The Define Line Method
Use tape such as masking tape or painter's tape to draw a definitive line between the space your dog is allowed and the space your dog is not allowed. This barrier won't stop him from entering the room, but he will be able to visibly see a defined line.
Stand on the opposite side of the line and look your dog in the eye. He's going to want to follow you in. Some dogs may be intimidated by the tape and may not cross that threshold at all. Others won't think twice and will cross to get to you.
If your dog crosses the line, use a very gentle command or keywords such as ‘ah ah’ or ‘uh oh’ in a sing-song voice to let your dog know you need his attention and he needs to stop. Using a sing-song voice will get your dog's attention for redirection rather than grabbing his attention for punishment.
Offer him a treat as he stands on the opposite side of your taped line. Verbally tell him what a good boy he is so he can hear the pride and excitement in your voice.
Drop some treats on the opposite side of the taped line so he can see enticing treats on the floor but will be challenged to think about whether or not he should cross the line to get to them.
After a few moments of dropping treats in different spots, cross the line yourself and give them to him from the position where he should be standing.
If your dog loses focus and enters the room, you can use a very simple verbal redirection such as your keywords like 'ah ah' or use a key phrase such as ‘out of the room.’
Continue to practice
Every time you are in this particular room, allow your dog to come to the barrier line. Bring him treats when he does not cross. Continue to practice your keywords and key phrase and redirect should he step foot into the room. Over time, you should be able to remove the tape and he will know the line still exists and he's not allowed in that room.
The Redirect from Start Method
Place your dog on a leash and have treats handy to offer when your dog ignores the tempting room.
Walk towards room
While on a leash, walk your dog directly towards the room you wish him not to enter.
Before crossing the threshold, stop. If your dog moves forward, shorten the leash to keep him from crossing the threshold as well.
Give your dog a treat as soon as he stops. If you do this several times, he will begin to associate the idea of a treat outside of this room.
Repeat the above steps. Come as close as you can to the room without allowing your dog to go inside. Offer him a treat outside of the room without entering it.
As your dog loses interest in the room and gains interest in receiving a treat, start to walk him past the room off leash.
Repeat the steps above, not allowing him to cross the threshold and offer him a treat every time he ignores the room and stops just outside with you.
Written by Stephanie Plummer
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 10/17/2017, edited: 01/08/2021
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