Millan's first job in the United States was at a dog grooming store. He later created the Pacific Point Canine Academy. Jada Pinkett Smith became one of Millan's first clients and supporters when he was working as a limousine driver, providing him with an English tutor for a year. Subsequently, Millan created the Dog Psychology Center, a two-acre (0.81 ha) facility in South Los Angeles, specializing in working with large breed dogs.
The Monks of New Skete, who were breeders and trainers of German Shepherds in Cambridge, New York, published How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend: A Training Manual for Dog Owners in 1978 and it became an immediate best seller. Despite advocating a philosophy that "understanding is the key to communication and compassion with your dog," they endorsed confrontational punishments which were later shown to elicit dangerously aggressive responses in many dogs.
It typically takes 4-6 months for a puppy to be fully house trained, but some puppies may take up to a year. Size can be a predictor. For instance, smaller breeds have smaller bladders and higher metabolisms and require more frequent trips outside. Your puppy's previous living conditions are another predictor. You may find that you need to help your puppy break old habits in order to establish more desirable ones.
Teach your dog where he SHOULD take his potty breaks, instead of trying to use punishment to teach him where he should NOT go potty. If you focus on what you want him to do, instead of what you don’t want your dog to do, you’ll get faster results. Teaching your dog where it’s OK to go is very important, and one of the reasons why so many people are never successful in potty training their dogs.
Be sure to go with him and watch him and calmly praise him when he goes. Don’t go crazy praising him, or he is liable to stop, just calmly let him know that he is good! It doesn’t matter if it is 100 degrees or 10 below zero; raining or snowing, if you don’t go outside and monitor your puppy, you will not know if or when he is going potty outside which means he is likely to come back inside and go potty.
Millan's work focuses on handling a dog with what he calls "calm-assertive energy". He believes that dog owners should establish their role as calm-assertive pack leaders. According to Millan, dogs have three primary needs: exercise, discipline and affection, in that order. In other words, it is the owner's responsibility to fulfill the dog's energy level needs through challenging exercise; then to provide clearly communicated rules, boundaries and limitations; and finally, to provide affection. According to Millan, a common pitfall for American dog owners is to give a great deal of affection with very little exercise and even less discipline. He encourages owners to understand the effect their own attitudes, internal emotions and physical postures have on a dog's behavior, counseling owners to hold strong posture (i.e., shoulders high and chest forward) and to project energy that is calm-assertive.
Non-associative learning is a change in a response to a stimulus that does not involve associating the presented stimulus with another stimulus or event such as reward or punishment. Habituation is non-associative learning. An example is where a dog that reacts excitedly to a door bell is subjected to repeated ringing without accompanying visitors, and stops reacting to the meaningless stimuli. It becomes habituated to the noise. On the other side of habituation is sensitization. Some dogs' reactions to the stimuli become stronger instead of them habituating to the repeated stimuli or event. Desensitization is the process of pairing positive experiences with an object, person, or situation that causes fear or anxiety. Consistent exposure to the feared object in conjunction with rewards allows the animal to become less stressed, thereby becoming desensitized in the process. This type of training can be effective for dogs who are fearful of fireworks.
Put your puppy in a crate or a safe area whenever you can’t supervise him. Always, always remember to take your puppy to his or her potty spot when they have to go! If they’re going in multiple areas, or a wide range, then A) you are more likely to stumble upon an unpleasant surprise while walking around your yard; and B) it’s easier for your puppy to create another potty spot by creating a habit of eliminating somewhere off-limits.