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!
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.

It's very important to put your puppy on a regular and timely feeding schedule; What goes in on a regular schedule will come out on a regular schedule. Every pup is different; some poop immediately after eating; with others it may be 30 minutes to an hour after eating. Unless advised by your vet for some medical reason, do not free-feed. That is, do not leave food out all the time. For two reasons: First, your pup's elimination schedule will be random at best. And second, she will not necessarily associate you as the provider of her food (see our article on being a pack leader and winning a puppy's respect and trust).
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,[6] providing him with an English tutor for a year.[17][18] 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.[23]
If you’re like me and have trouble keeping up with your pup at all times try using a tether. You can buy a tether from the pet store or simply do what I did and use a long lead or leash. If tethering your pup to you at all times is what it takes to make sure they’re not sneaking off then go for it. If you’re not keen on keeping your dog tethered you can use baby gates or closed doors to restrict your dogs access to the whole house.

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?


Millan's TV programs are centered on the rehabilitation of dogs while Millan concurrently educates the dog owners in his dog-handling philosophy. Conversations with owners typically revolve around his philosophy: that healthy, balanced dogs require strong "pack leadership" from their owners,[18] while Millan demonstrates how owners can achieve and maintain a leadership role with their dogs. In some cases, Millan takes dogs with severe behavioral problems to his Dog Psychology Center for an extended period of more intensive rehabilitation. The programs are not intended as a dog training guide, and[24] each episode contains repeated warnings that viewers should not try the behavior modification techniques at home without the guidance of a professional.[18]
The most important thing you can do to make house training happen as quickly as possible is to reward and praise your puppy every time he goes in the right place. The more times he is rewarded, the quicker he will learn. Therefore it's important that you spend as much time as possible with your puppy and give him regular and frequent access to his toilet area.

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.

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]
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.
It’s best not to punish the puppy for making a mistake. Instead, focus on praising appropriate bathroom behavior. If you catch your puppy in the act, interrupt it by saying “No!” in a firm voice or clapping your hands loudly, then take the puppy outside to finish going to the bathroom. Never swat your puppy, yell at it, or try to rub its nose in the mess.

Pay attention to your puppy while you're waiting for him to do his business. Sometimes, especially in the beginning, you might have to wait a little while before your puppy gets around to using the toilet. You can do some exercises or some light gardening, but keep on eye on your puppy because you'll want to take him back in as soon as he's finished.

It’s human nature to look for what’s wrong and take what’s right for granted. But we need to do the complete opposite with our puppies. Always reward and praise good behavior and ignore the things that go wrong. This is especially true with potty training process accidents. Bathroom mistakes are inevitable with puppies, so please don’t overreact and frighten or punish your pup.
This method is the most effective and flexible. Your pup needs to develop his natural "den instinct" and learn where to eliminate - and where not to. To potty train our puppy we must condition a desire in the pup to avoid soiling the "den" - your house. Confinement and your due diligence in providing access outside the "den" to potty and poop will develop this instinct and eventual desire. When and how to use confinement is described in detail below.

Motivational training has its roots in captive animal training, where compulsion and corrections are both difficult and dangerous, and ignoring bad behavior is not problematic as the animal lives under controlled conditions. As a dog training strategy, purely positive training is feasible, but difficult, as it requires time and patience to control the rewards the dog receives for behavior. Some activities such as jumping up or chasing squirrels are intrinsically rewarding, the activity is its own reward, and with some activities the environment may provide reinforcement such as when the response from dog next door encourages barking.[61]
One of the easiest ways to prevent accidents is learning to recognize when your puppy needs to go out. Most puppies will sniff the ground when they’re getting ready to potty, but there are many other more signals that happen prior to sniffing. Puppies that pace, seem distracted and walk away from play are subtly signaling that they have to go out. If your puppy tries to sneak out of the room, take a potty break right away.
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.
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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.
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]
On a side note, a puppy’s mother can actually do a lot of the potty training for your dog. I know of several reputable breeders who tell me that the mother dog trains their pups not to eliminate in their nests. From the moment a puppy is born its mother is teaching it that the NEST is the place where it eats & sleeps. One of the first rules Mama Dog starts to teach her pups is NO peeing or pooping in the family nest – That’s Disgusting! And she makes them follow her outside.
On the other hand, praising a puppy for doing the right thing works best for everything you will do in your life together. Make her think that she is a little canine Einstein every time she performs this simple, natural act. Be effusive in your praise—cheer, clap, throw cookies. Let her know that no other accomplishment, ever—not going to the moon, not splitting the atom, not inventing coffee—has been as important as this pee.

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.
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.
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]
It's not so much the dog doesn't listen, more that he doesn't understand what you want him to do. Go back to basics and don't punish him when he toilets indoors. Double your vigilance and take every opportunity to put him outside to toilet. The crucial thing is to be present when he does toilet in the correct place, so that you can reward him. This makes him keener to repeat the performance to get another treat. Conversely, if you have been telling him off for indoor accidents he may already feel inhibited about going to the toilet in your presence, including when he goes outdoors. This is one reason why it's important not to punish for inappropriate toileting.
The 21st century has seen the proliferation of television programs and accompanying books that feature dog training and rehabilitation,[37] including Joel Silverman's Good Dog U, Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, It's Me or the Dog featuring Victoria Stillwell, The Underdog Show, Dogs in the City, and SuperFetch. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers advises that television programs are produced primarily for entertainment, and while all programs will have good and not-so-good points, the viewer should critically evaluate the information before deciding which training tips to adopt.[38]
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