Observational learning is the learning that occurs through observing the behavior of others. This form of learning does not need reinforcement to occur; instead, a model animal is required. While the model may not be intentionally trying to instill any particular behavior, many behaviors that are observed are remembered and imitated.[54] The domestic dog is a social species and its social dependency makes it aware of the behavior of others, which contributes to its own behavior and learning abilities. There is, however, ongoing discussion about how much, and how, dogs can learn by interacting with each other and with people.[55]
While working with a dog, Millan often uses vocal marks such as tsch,[33] gestures, and body language to communicate with dogs rather than speech or the dog's name. Millan encourages owners to create their own unique sound that works for them.[32] He believes that dogs sense, understand, and respond to a person's energy more easily than their speech.[34]
Let your new dog gradually earn freedom throughout your home. A common error that many pet parents make is giving their new dog too much freedom too soon. This can easily lead to accidents relating to housetraining and destructive chewing. So, close off doors to unoccupied rooms and use baby gates to section off parts of the house, if necessary. One of the best ways to minimize incidents is to keep your dog tethered to you in the house and by using a crate or doggie safe area when you can’t actively supervise him.
Whether you have a new pup, who is just starting out on his potty training journey, or you have an older dog that you’ve just adopted or rescued, I’m going to teach you about a process called shaping that will teach your dog to think for itself and solve problems on his own. If this is done consistently, I promise the rest of these dog training instructions will be a walk in the park!
I know I keep mentioning this, but it is SO IMPORTANT for you to understand that in the dog potty training process, there are going to be accidents. What you do when your dog has an accident is very important. Yes I know that nobody likes cleaning up after the fact but if you react negatively your dog will start to associate your anger or frustration with him going to the bathroom and will be afraid to eliminate around you. I would say this is the biggest mistake people make while dog potty training.
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.[39] 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.[40] 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.
Dogs thrive on a predictable schedule, and setting one up for your new puppy will make life easier for both of you. Feed your puppy at the same times each day to help you predict and schedule bathroom breaks. Schedule post-meal walks, as well as hourly trips outside during the initial stages of potty training. Always take your puppy out after crating, even if was only for a short time, and remember that vigorous play should always be interrupted for potty breaks.
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.[48] 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.[49] 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.[50] Desensitization is the process of pairing positive experiences with an object, person, or situation that causes fear or anxiety.[51] 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.[52]

Just because your new dog is old enough that he should know where to potty doesn’t mean that he actually does. An adult dog has the necessary muscle control to hold it for longer periods of time, but if no one ever taught him the potty training rules then he’s the equivalent of a brand new puppy. Age should not be equated with housetraining prowess, so it’s a good idea to treat any dog new to your home as if he’s still learning the potty training ropes.
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,"[31] they endorsed confrontational punishments which were later shown to elicit dangerously aggressive responses in many dogs.[32]

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.
Suppose you consistently praise your puppy for their actions, while potty training. Then say your dog has an accident. Do not praise you dog immediately. Instead, take your dog outside and wait for it to go to the bathroom. When it finishes doing its business, take it inside, and keep it in a separate room while you clean up the mess. After this you should act disappointed in your dog, but only for a few minutes. Keep you and your dog motivated to potty train.
Animal behaviorists assert that using dominance to modify a behavior can suppress the behavior without addressing the underlying cause of the problem. It can exacerbate the problem and increase the dog's fear, anxiety, and aggression. Dogs that are subjected to repeated threats may react with aggression not because they are trying to be dominant, but because they feel threatened and afraid.[74]
Consistency and Patience. Never scold or punish your puppy for mistakes and accidents. The older your pup gets, the more he will be able to control his bladder and bowels. Eventually your pup will have enough control that he will be able to "hold it" for longer and longer periods of time. Let your puppy do this on his own time. When training is rushed, problems usually develop. Don't forget, most puppies are not completely house trained until they are 6 months old.
Puppies would much rather play with leaves and bugs than go potty, if you aren’t there to see that you won’t know your pup needs to go back into his crate and come out again 5-10 minutes later! He will learn to sneak away, and have accidents inside. If you leave him outside for an extended period of time, chances are when you bring him back in he will need to go outside again soon or have an accident.
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.
Based on the principles of social learning, model-rival training uses a model, or a rival for attention, to demonstrate the desired behaviour.[69] The method was used by Irene Pepperberg to train Alex the African Grey Parrot to label a large number of objects. McKinley and Young undertook a pilot study on the applicability of a modified version of the model-rival method to the training of domestic dogs, noting that the dog's origins as a member of large and complex social groups promote observational learning. The model-rival training involved an interaction between the trainer, the dog, and a person acting as a model-rival, that is, a model for desired behaviour and a rival for the trainer's attention. In view of the dog, a dialogue concerning a particular toy commenced between the trainer and the model-rival. The trainer praised or scolded the model-rival depending on whether the model-rival had named the toy correctly. It was found that the performance times for completion of the task were similar for dogs trained with either operant conditioning or the model rival method. In addition, the total training time required for task completion was comparable for both methods.[70]
One of the biggest mistakes new puppy owners make is expecting their puppy to hold it for longer than he is physically capable. The general guideline for puppy “hold times” is that each month of age equates to an hour of “hold time,” so a two-month-old puppy can hold it for roughly two hours. There are exceptions to the rule; your puppy should be able to hold it for slightly longer period of time at night as he gets older and you pup will need potty breaks more frequently when he’s playing.
If your dog isn’t giving you an obvious signal that they need to go out (like whining at the door) I suggest teaching them to ring a bell when they need to go outside. Some of the other signs dogs give that they need to go out such as pacing around or circling can be easy to miss if they’re in another room, which is why a noise based signal such as ringing a bell can make things easier.
As your puppy becomes more reliable about using his toilet area and his bowel and bladder control develops, he can begin to spend more time outside his room or pen with you in the rest of your home. Begin by giving him access to one room at a time. Let him eat, sleep and play in this room but only when he can be supervised. When you cannot supervise him, put him back in his room or pen.
In October 2012, Millan appeared on The Alan Titchmarsh Show. Titchmarsh called his methods "cruel" and "unnecessary", citing a video in which, Titchmarsh said, Millan punched a dog in the throat. Millan called it a touch, not a punch. Titchmarsh read out an RSPCA statement saying that "Adverse training techniques which have been seen to be used by Cesar Millan can cause pain and fear for dogs and may worsen their behavioural problems."[38][39] Writing in the British newspaper Metro, features writer, Andrew Williams, described the interview as the first time that Titchmarsh has "deviated from his usual interview strategy – which runs the gamut from mild to wild sycophancy" and described him as "probably the only celeb Millan has failed to win over..."[40]
A word of advice – DO NOT use potty pads; use an outdoor potty spot right away, instead. Many people are proponents of potty pads, but they can be counterintuitive at times. Yes, if you train your doggy properly, it will go potty on the potty pad when it’s time to eliminate. What happens when you take the potty pad away, though, and your dog has developed this routine of going on the pad?

Let your new dog gradually earn freedom throughout your home. A common error that many pet parents make is giving their new dog too much freedom too soon. This can easily lead to accidents relating to housetraining and destructive chewing. So, close off doors to unoccupied rooms and use baby gates to section off parts of the house, if necessary. One of the best ways to minimize incidents is to keep your dog tethered to you in the house and by using a crate or doggie safe area when you can’t actively supervise him.
With more than 25 years of experience, renowned dog behavior expert and New York Times best-selling author Cesar Millan is one of the most sought-after authorities in the field of dog behavior and rehabilitation. In March 2014, Millan brings his unmatched canine abilities to communities terrorized by unruly hounds in Nat Geo WILD's new series "... See full bio »
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.
It’s one of those trained behaviors that’s SUPER simple to teach any dog, but really impresses your friends and family. But more importantly, it gives your dog a way to actually tell you he REALLY needs to go potty. This comes in VERY handy when you don’t happen to be in the same room with your dog when nature calls… but with the ringing of the bell, you can hear your dog asking to go outside from any room in your house!
Confine your puppy to his, 'puppy-proofed' bathroom or an exercise pen and paper (or wee-wee pad) the entire floor. Put his bed, toys and food/water bowls there. At first there will be no rhyme or reason to where your pup eliminates. He will go every where and any where. He will also probably play with the papers, chew on them, and drag them around his little den. Most puppies do this and you just have to live with it. Don't get upset; just accept it as life with a young puppy. The important thing is that when you get home, clean up the mess and lay down fresh papers.

It’s an instinct for your dog to want to investigate things you put near his muzzle, so he is likely to touch the bell lightly with his nose. Be ready for that moment and click and treat. If he is apprehensive, put the treat very near the ribbon of bells so that he almost HAS to touch them in order to get at his treat.  When he touches, click and treat!

Consistency is crucial. This may mean taking time off work to be there to take the pup outside every 20-30 minutes when they are awake. Crate training will also help the 'penny drop' as it teaches the pup to hold on until taken outside. Then, be sure to stay with the pup in the yard so you are there to reinforce how clever they are when they do go in the right place.
Pups between the ages of 9–12 weeks who were permitted to observe their narcotics-detecting mothers at work generally proved more capable at learning the same skills at six months of age than control puppies the same age who were not previously allowed to watch their mothers working.[56] A 2001 study recorded the behaviour of dogs in detour tests, in which a favorite toy or food was placed behind a V-shaped fence. The demonstration of the detour by humans significantly improved the dogs' performance in the trials. The experiments showed that dogs are able to rely on information provided by human action when confronted with a new task. Significantly, they did not copy the exact path of the human demonstrator, but adopted the detour behavior shown by humans to reach their goal.[57] A 1977 experiment by Adler and Adler found that puppies who watched other puppies learn to pull a food cart into their cages by an attached ribbon proved considerably faster at the task when later given the opportunity themselves. At 38 days of age, the demonstrator puppies took an average of 697 seconds to succeed, while the observers succeeded in an average of 9 seconds.[58]
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