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.
Whenever you’re training your dog, it’s important to get as many family members involved as possible so everyone’s on the same page. If you are telling your dog “off” when he jumps on the couch and someone else is saying “down,” while someone else is letting him hang out up there, how on earth is he ever going to learn what you want? Consistency will be the key to your success.
Feed your dog a high-quality diet with appropriate amounts of protein. If your dog spends most of his days lounging in your condo, don’t feed him food with a protein level that is ideal for dogs who herd sheep all day. The money that you will spend on feeding an appropriate quality food will often be money that you save in vet bills later on. I recommend you always check with your veterinarian for the right diet for your dog.

The principle behind using a crate for housetraining is that dogs are very clean creatures and don’t like a urine-soaked rug in their living spaces any more than you do. It’s important that the crate is the right size—just large enough for the dog to lie down, stand up, and turn around. If it is too large, the dog will feel that it’s OK to use one corner for elimination and then happily settle down away from the mess. Many crates come with partitions so you can adjust the size as your puppy grows.
Every time your dog pees or poops outside it needs to be celebrated. Give them baby talk or a treat, jump up & down, pat their little heads & remind them of how brilliant that decision was. Yes it might look silly, but your pup needs to know he’s done the best thing ever. When you consistently praise your puppy for going potty outside they’ll start to understand that it’s the correct decision, and one that leads to super fun happy time.
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]

Millan was born on August 27, 1969, to Felipe Millán Guillen and María Teresa Favela in rural Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico. Millan grew up working with animals on the farm in Sinaloa where his grandfather was a tenant farmer.[16] Because of his natural way with dogs, he was called el Perrero, "the dog herder".[16] The family later moved to Mazatlán.[17] Millan illegally crossed the border into the United States when he was 21 years old, speaking no English and with only $100.[16][18][19][20] In an interview with long-time friend Jada Pinkett Smith in July 2018, Millan described his harrowing journey.[21] On crime along the Mexican border: "Once you get to the border, what you see is people wanted to take advantage of you. So that's when you learn about the streets. But that's another level of streets. They can sell you. They can kill you for organs. That is more likely than jumping it."[22] On United States Border Patrol: "There were many times I let the border patrol catch me because Americans feed you. So when they catch you, they feed you. Mexican police don't feed you."[21] On his friendship with Jada Pinkett Smith: Millan met Pinkett Smith shortly after arriving in Los Angeles and confided in her his dreams of working with pets on television; she told him that he needed to learn English and set up one of her friends to teach him. "Because of Jada, I speak English. "[21]
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.

There are several medical issues that can interfere with potty training. Dogs with a urinary tract infection (UTI) will urinate frequently in small amounts, and will not have much control. You may also notice excessive licking of their genital region. If you notice a change in the consistency of their stool, the cause could be a gastrointestinal issue. Some common causes in puppies are intestinal parasites, having eaten something not in their normal diet, or a sudden food change. If a food change is necessary, do it gradually over 5 to 7 days. If you suspect any of these issues could be a problem, you should consult with your veterinarian.[22]

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.

Millan's work focuses on handling a dog with what he calls "calm-assertive energy".[9] He believes that dog owners should establish their role as calm-assertive pack leaders.[18] According to Millan, dogs have three primary needs:[18] exercise, discipline and affection, in that order.[30] 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.[31] 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.[31] 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.[16][32]
Classical conditioning (or Pavlovian conditioning) is a form of learning in which one stimulus, the conditioned stimulus, comes to signal the occurrence of a second stimulus, the unconditioned stimulus.[45] Classical conditioning is when a dog learns to associate things in its environment, or discovers some things just go together. A dog may become afraid of rain through an association with thunder and lightning, or it may respond to the owner putting on a particular pair of shoes by fetching its leash.[46] Classical conditioning is used in dog training to help a dog make specific associations with a particular stimulus, particularly in overcoming fear of people and situations.[47]
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]
Unfortunately, there is no magic length of time or milestone age when a puppy can be considered fully housetrained and there are many factors that go into how quickly a puppy can be potty trained. Your puppy’s age plays a major role during the initial phase of potty training, as a very young puppy won’t have the muscle control necessary to hold it for long periods of time.
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).

In one study laboratory-bred Beagles were divided into three groups. Group A received an electric shock when the dogs touched the prey (a rabbit dummy fixed to a motion device). Group H received a shock when they did not obey a previously trained recall command during hunting. Dogs in group R received the electric shock arbitrarily, i.e. the shock was administered unpredictably and out of context. Group A did not show a significant rise in salivary cortisol levels, while group R and group H did show a significant rise. This led to the conclusion that animals which were able to clearly associate the electric stimulus with their action, i.e. touching the prey, and consequently were able to predict and control the stressor, did not show considerable or persistent stress indicators, while animals that were not able to control the situation to avoid the shock did show significant stress.[66]


Both dogs and humans benefit from a predictable, consistent house training routine. This routine should account for confinement time, potty breaks, meal times, play time, training time, walks, and all the other enriching activities that are part of your dog’s daily life. Routines make your job easier and help your new puppy get use to your lifestyle.
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.
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.
Be persistent! Make sure the puppy doesn't get the opportunity to pee and poop by using a leash indoors or confining him to a crate when you're out. Depending on the puppies age, pop him outside every 20 - 30 minutes, so there's a greater chance of him toileting outside (by accident at first.) In addition, get rid of any scent markers he's left by peeing or pooping indoors, as these will draw him back to the same spot. This means cleaning the area daily, for 2- 3 weeks after he last pooped there to fully get rid of any lingering odor that the dog can detect.
The process is the exactly same for older dogs as it is for puppies; prevent accidents from happening by using baby gates and a crate if possible, create a predictable schedule, learn to recognize your dog’s potty signals, accompany your dog outside and immediately reward for all outdoor elimination, properly clean any accidents and supervise your dog until you’re sure that he understands the rules.
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.
^ Herron, Meghan E.; Shofer, Frances S.; Reisner, Ilana R. (2009). "Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors" (PDF). Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 117 (1–2): 47–54. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2008.12.011. ISSN 0168-1591. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 29, 2012.

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.


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.
Feed your dog a high-quality diet with appropriate amounts of protein. If your dog spends most of his days lounging in your condo, don’t feed him food with a protein level that is ideal for dogs who herd sheep all day. The money that you will spend on feeding an appropriate quality food will often be money that you save in vet bills later on. I recommend you always check with your veterinarian for the right diet for your dog.
Unless you plan to keep your dog outdoors--and few of us do because it's not recommended--you'll need to teach your dog where to eliminate. Therefore, house training (also called housebreaking or potty training) is one of the first things you need to work on with your dog. Crate training can be a very helpful part of the training process. This includes house training as well as many other areas of training:
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