Operant conditioning (or instrumental conditioning) is a form of learning in which an individual's behavior is modified by its consequences. Two complementary motivations drive instrumental learning: the maximization of positive outcomes and minimization of aversive ones. There are two ways in which behavior is reinforced or strengthened: positive reinforcement occurs when a behavior is strengthened by producing some desirable consequence; negative reinforcement occurs when a behavior is strengthened by avoiding some undesirable consequence. There are two ways in which behavior is decreased or weakened: negative punishment occurs when a behavior is weakened by not producing a reinforcing consequence; and positive punishment occurs when a behavior is weakened by producing a consequence that is a disincentive. In combination, these basic reinforcing and punishing contingencies provide four ways for modifying behavior. Reinforcement increases the relative probability or frequency of the behavior it follows, while punishment decreases the relative probability or frequency of the behaviour it follows.
The idea of using treats to train is often equated with bribery. Truthfully, dogs do what works. If using treats gets them to do what you want, then why not? You can also use the world around you as a reinforcement. Every interaction you have with your dog is a learning opportunity, so when you think about it, you probably don’t use food very often except during active training sessions. So why does your dog continue to hang out? Because you reinforce him with praise, touch, games and walks. Just remember, the behavior should produce the treat; the treat should not produce the behavior.
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.
One of the biggest predictors of a speedy potty training process is owner diligence. If you’re on top of your puppy’s schedule and you stick to a strict prevention and supervision regiment, you should be well on your way to potty training success within a few months. You can consider your puppy almost fully housetrained when you’ve gone an entire month without a single accident, but keep in mind that potty training is an inexact science. It’s best to have several dry months before you can really trust that your puppy understands the rules.
There is only one acceptable methodology for potty training a dog of any age: positive reinforcement. Traditional advice suggested swatting a dog or rubbing his face in his waste for mistakes in the house, but those techniques do nothing to make the potty training process more understandable for your dog and can actually damage your relationship with him. Keep in mind, dogs don’t view their waste the way we do – to them, pee and poo is pretty interesting! Punishing your dog for going in the house won’t help him understand what he should do instead and might make him afraid to go near you at all, inside or out. Successful potty training requires patience, kindness and remembering that your new puppy is just learning the rules.
Individualised training is used with dogs that have an urgent or unique training problem such as fear, hyperactivity, aggression (and other related problems), separation anxiety, biting, excessive barking, insecurity, destructive behaviors, walking difficulties, and inappropriate elimination. This type of training would normally be undertaken where the problem naturally occurs rather than a class situation. Class training can be effective in encouraging socialization and play with a peer group. Classes are often offered at a more affordable rate and can cover both problem behaviors and teach new skills. Classes can range from puppy and beginner training to more advanced training and skill training such as performing tricks or therapy work.
In the 1950s Blanche Saunders was a staunch advocate of pet-dog training, travelling throughout the U.S. to promote obedience classes. In The Complete Book of Dog Obedience, she said, "Dogs learn by associating their act with a pleasing or displeasing result. They must be disciplined when they do wrong, but they must also be rewarded when they do right." Negative reinforcement procedures played a key part in Saunders' method, primarily the jerking of the choke chain. The mantra taught to students was "Command! Jerk! Praise!" She felt that food should not be an ongoing reward, but that it was acceptable to use "a tidbit now and then to overcome a problem." Saunders perhaps began the shift away from military and police training methods, stressing repeatedly the importance of reinforcement for good behaviour in training—a move toward the positive training methods used today.
According to a January 2007 article in the Indian scientific journal Current Science, some professional dog trainers find Millan's methods outdated, flawed and "unscientific and inhumane." Millan's detractors say that what Millan calls "calm submission" is actually a state of helplessness that is the result of averse dog-training techniques. A study in Applied Animal Behaviour Science said Millan has been influential in popularizing punitive techniques, but that bad behavior from dogs was caused by fear and anxiety, not a lack of the owner's alpha status. Malcolm Gladwell, writing for The New Yorker, said that critics were responding to a "highly edited" version of his approach on television, which exaggerates the frequency and intensity that he uses when he disciplines the dogs.
Don't allow your puppy freedom outside of his room or pen unless you know absolutely for sure that his bladder and bowels are completely empty. When you do let him out, don't let him out of your sight. It is a good idea to have him on leash when he is exploring your home. He can't get into trouble if you are attached to the other end of the leash. Never, ever tie the puppy's leash to something and leave the puppy unattended.
So, depending on how old he is and the size of your puppy, it’s unrealistic to expect him to be potty trained before this time. It will be helpful to keep in mind that your puppy is only able to hold their bladder 1 hour for every month old he is. So if your puppy is two months old, they can hold it for about two hours. Don’t go longer than this between bathroom breaks or they’re guaranteed to have an accident.
While indoor elimination solutions like potty pads and litter boxes have their place, using them can actually slow the process down if you plan to eventually have your dog eliminate exclusively outside. Teaching your puppy to potty inside sometimes and outside others can be confusing because you will eventually have to teach your dog that at some point the indoor option is no longer allowed. Potty pads work best for people who can’t get their puppy outside quickly, like those who live in high-rise apartments or have limited mobility.
Potty training seems like a daunting task! It really does. I know people who avoid getting puppies just to skip this process, and in some ways I totally understand that! Puppies really are a LOT of work, and it is not just potty training! It can be varying aspects of housebreaking, teaching your puppy manners, making certain that it is well socialized, addressing early issues like persistent whining or separation anxiety before they become permanent problems, and tons of more areas to make sure that your puppy is on track to being a happy, healthy, well-behaved dog.
If your dog exhibits a behavior you don’t like, there is a strong likelihood that it’s something that has been reinforced before. A great example is when your dog brings you a toy and barks to entice you to throw it. You throw the toy. Your dog has just learned that barking gets you to do what he wants. You say “no,” and he barks even more. Heaven forbid you give in and throw the toy now! Why? Because you will have taught him persistence pays off. Before you know it you’ll have a dog that barks and barks every time he wants something. The solution? Ignore his barking or ask him to do something for you (like “sit”) before you throw his toy.
It's an exciting time when you bring your new puppy home, but a new pet also comes with challenges. One of the first and biggest challenges that you may face is that of potty training. Some puppies will learn this quickly, while others will struggle with it for a while. During this training period, always remember to be patient, remain calm, and be consistent. If you stay positive and follow these guidelines, potty training can be a simple process.
In 1935, the American Kennel Club began obedience trials, and in the following years popular magazines raised public awareness of the benefits of having a trained pet dog, and of the recreational possibilities of dog training as a hobby. After WWII, the increasing complexities of suburban living demanded that for a pet dog's own protection and its owner's convenience, the dog should be obedient. William Koehler had served as principal trainer at the War Dog Training Center, in California, and after the war became chief trainer for the Orange Empire Dog Club—at the time, the largest dog club in the United States—instructor for a number of breed clubs, and a dog trainer for the Walt Disney Studios. In 1962 Koehler published The Koehler Method of Dog Training, in which he is highly critical of what he calls "tid-bit training techniques" based in "the prattle of 'dog psychologists'". Amongst the training innovations attributed to Koehler is the use of a long line in conjunction with a complete absence of oral communication as a way of instilling attentiveness prior to any leash training. Koehler insisted that participants in his training classes used "emphatic corrections", including leash jerks and throw chains, explaining that tentative, nagging corrections were cruel in that they caused emotional disturbance to the dog. Vicki Hearne, a disciple of Koehler's, commented on the widespread criticism of his corrections, with the explanation that it was the emotionally loaded language used in the book that led to a number of court cases, and to the book being banned in Arizona for a time. Despite the controversy, his basic method forms the core of many contemporary training systems.