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Mickey is a little Poodle who has come to live with a new family that has small children. His new family adores him, but they don't want him in the kids' playroom, because the area always has toys strewn everywhere and Mickey might chew on a favorite stuffed animal or accidentally ingest parts of small toys, especially if little fingers covered in peanut butter recently handled them, making them especially appealing! The plan is to teach Mickey not to enter the playroom. This will give the kids a dog-free zone where they do not have to worry about their toys becoming doggy toys.
Sometimes owners may want their small dog to stay out of a particular room. Many owners do not want their dogs in their bedrooms if the dog disturbs their sleep, or some families don't want the dog in the kitchen, where they could get into food or garbage, or beg at the table. Owners can establish boundaries with their small dog so that they are comfortable and the little dog understands what is expected of them. Once everyone is clear what the rules are and expectations are well-defined, both dog and owners can be comfortable with their arrangement.. and space!
Small dogs are usually people dogs, and they tend to want to be wherever their owners are. Training your small dog to stay out of a particular room can, therefore, be a bit of a challenge. Especially if the dog has previously had access to that room and now you want to teach him that room is off limits. There are, however, several strategies for setting boundaries and teaching your small dog to respect your space and stay out of a particular room. You will need to be clear and consistent. Make boundaries visual if possible, and do not make exceptions to accessing the room during, or after training, so you don't confuse your dog. You can use physical boundaries to prevent your dog from entering a room during training or visual boundaries such as tape on the floor at a room’s entrance. Rewarding your dog for staying out of the room, deterring your dog, or distracting your dog from the are all effective to establish a room is off limits.
Baby gates make good barriers to rooms when you are unable to supervise or to keep a small dog out of a room during the training phase. Makeshift barriers with furniture or plywood can also be used. During training, you can use painter's tape or masking tape on the floor at a room entrance to give your small dog a visual cue that will help him understand what his boundaries are. Some methods involve the use of a leash and treats to control, direct, and reward the dog for avoiding the room that is off limits. Training your small dog to stay out of a particular room will require consistency and a significant time commitment in the way of supervision. Stepping over a baby gate every time you want to enter a room during training can be tiring, but patience will eventually pay off!
The Boundary Training Method
When you are not able to supervise your dog, put a barrier, such as a baby gate up, to prevent your dog from entering the room for the duration of the training period, until your small dog learns to stay out of the room.
Make visual cue
Put painter's tape or masking tape over the threshold or entrance to the room you want your dog to stay out of.
Have treats ready
Put your small dog on a leash and have a pouch of yummy treats ready.
Stop outside room
Approach the entrance to the room, and stop with your dog just before entering. Call your dog's name to get his attention and have him stop with you. Reward your dog. Repeat several times in a row until your dog starts anticipating you and stopping before he gets to the entrance to the room.
Reward staying out of room
Approach the room and when your dog anticipates you and stops, continue into the room with your dog stopped outside the room. Reward your dog for not following you into the room. Repeat, varying the distance you enter into the room and continuing to reward your dog for staying outside the room.
The Use Deterrents Method
Put a vinegar soaked rag in the doorway of the room that you do not want your dog to enter. Dogs do not like the smell of the vinegar.
Use uncomfortable barrier
Put carpet runners with bumpy, sharp nubs, upside down, in the entrance to the room. They are uncomfortable to walk on, and your dog will avoid stepping on them to cross the threshold into the room.
Use strange tactile sensation
Put double sided sticky tape and/or aluminum foil at the entrance to the room. When your dog steps on the tape it creates an unpleasant sensation.
Supervise your dog, and make a loud noise with a can full of rocks or a horn when your dog enters the room.
Switch it up
Switch up deterrents and leave them in place for several days, until your dog learns not to enter the room in order to avoid the unpleasant deterrent.
The Direct and Block Method
Supervise your dog while he has access to the room, have treats or a toy ready. If you are not able to supervise, block the room off.
Get the dog's attention
When your small dog approaches the room, get your dog's attention, provide a verbal command such as “No” or “Out”. When your dog hesitates, throw a treat or toy in the opposite direction, away from the room.
Push out of room
If your dog proceeds into the room, push him out of the room with your body, approaching him and directing him back to the entrance of the room.
Renforce hesitation to enter
Once outside the room, repeat the verbal command, step away so you are no longer blocking the entrance. If your dog hesitates to enter, reward him with toy or treat tossed outside of room. If he continues into the room, repeat blocking and backing him out of the room.
Repeat and practice
Repeat daily, reinforce and redirect. Reward hesitation to enter room. Block and push the dog back out of room when necessary.
By Laurie Haggart
Published: 04/05/2018, edited: 01/08/2021