A dog learns from interactions it has with its environment.[1] This can be through classical conditioning, where it forms an association between two stimuli; non-associative learning, where its behavior is modified through habituation or sensitisation; and operant conditioning, where it forms an association between an antecedent and its consequence.[2]
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.
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.
Clean up any accidents in your house completely with an enzyme cleaner. This is very important because you do not want your pup to smell somewhere he has previously marked because he will return to that spot again and again. And on that note… If Fido has an accident in front of you, and you scold, yell or punish, you will only teach Fido not to take his potty breaks in front of you – Do not punish for accidents.
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).
Clicker training is a nickname given to a positive reinforcement training system based on operant conditioning. Clicker training can also be referred to as marker training. The system uses conditioned reinforcers which are able to be delivered more quickly and more precisely than primary reinforcers such as food. The term 'clicker' comes from a small metal cricket adapted from a child's toy that the trainer uses to precisely mark the desired behavior; however, some trainers use a whistle, a word, or even a light as the conditioned reinforcer.[63] The trainer delivers a primary reinforcer, such as a toy or treat, after the noise or signal. A common critique of clicker training is that it is prone to the overjustification effect.[64]
Konrad Most began training dogs for police work in Germany, and was appointed principal of the State Breeding and Training Establishment for police dogs in Berlin, where he carried out original research into training dogs for a broad range of service tasks. At the outbreak of war in 1914 he was charged with organising and directing the use of dogs to further the war effort. He headed the Experimental Institute for Armed Forces' Dogs during the Second World War, and afterwards ran the German Dog Farm, a centre for the training of working dogs, including assistance dogs for the blind. He played a leading role in the formation of the German Canine Research Society and Society for Animal Psychology.[10] His 1910 publication, Training Dogs: A Manual, emphasised using instinctive behavior such as the prey drive to train desired behaviors, advocated the use of compulsion and inducements, differentiated between primary and secondary reinforcers, and described shaping behaviors, chaining components of an activity, and the importance of timing rewards and punishments. The book demonstrated an understanding of the principles of operant conditioning almost thirty years before they were formally outlined by B.F. Skinner in The Behavior of Organisms.[11] While publishers of the 2001 reprint warn that some of the "compulsive inducements" such as the switch, the spiked collar and the forced compliance are unnecessarily harsh for today's pet dogs,[12] the basic principles of Most's methods are still used in police and military settings.[13]
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]

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.
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.
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.
Prior to the 1980s, Karen Pryor was a marine-mammal trainer who used Skinner's operant principles to teach dolphins and develop marine-mammal shows. In 1984, she published her book, Don't Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training, an explanation of operant-conditioning procedures written for the general public.[25] In the book Pryor explains why punishment as a way to get people to change often fails, and describes specific positive methods for changing the behaviour of husbands, children and pets.[35] Pryor's dog training materials and seminars showed how operant procedures can be used to provide training based on positive reinforcement of good behavior.[25] Pryor and Gary Wilkes introduced clicker training to dog trainers with a series of seminars in 1992 and 1993. Wilkes used aversives as well as rewards, and the philosophical differences soon ended the partnership.[36]
You should always accompany your puppy outside for potty breaks. You’re there not only to ensure that he actually goes, you’re also there to reward your puppy with a treat for going in the proper spot. Wait until your puppy finishes eliminating and immediately give him a tasty reward for a job well done. If you wait until you get back in the house, your puppy won’t make the connection between his elimination and the reward.
The next step is to teach your dog to ring the bell for a treat. Your dog has to be motivated to ring the bell, and in the beginning going outside isn’t enough to motivate him. But, if you teach him to ring the bell for a treat, he will quickly learn to ring the bell. You’ll want your dog to ring the bell with his nose, so make sure you hang the bell so it is nose level.

Before enrolling with a particular club contact them and ask if you can go to watch a class without your dog. This will help you decide if this is the right environment for you and your dog. Some clubs have waiting lists and you will need to book ahead, some accept people on a roll on roll off basis. Prices will vary from a joining fee and then weekly payments to a one off fee for a certain length of training.
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