In the 1980s veterinarian and animal behaviourist Ian Dunbar discovered that despite evidence on the peak learning periods in animals, few dog trainers worked with puppies before they were six months old. Dunbar founded Sirius Dog Training, the first off-leash training program specifically for puppies, which emphasizes the importance of teaching bite inhibition, sociality, and other basic household manners, to dogs under six months of age. Dunbar has written numerous books, and is known for his international seminar presentations and award-winning videos on puppy and dog behavior and training.
Dogs don’t speak English, and just because we might yell at our dog as we catch him in the middle of peeing on the floor and then rush him outside where he finishes it off… doesn’t mean we did an effective job at telling him that outside was where he was supposed to go. We are usually too focused on getting him NOT to go inside, instead of going outside.
Understand your puppy's particular breed behavior and needs. Research your dogs breed traits and special needs or any behavior that you should be aware of and look out for. For example, If your puppy is a tiny little chihuahua, their bladder will be very small and they will need to urinate more frequently; accidents will happen even if they are well trained.
If I take my pup out at 10 a.m. and he takes a 30-minute nap in his crate, that would put us at 10:30 a.m., which is 1 ½ hours away from his next scheduled potty break. So, instead of taking him out, I will place him in his crate until 12 p.m. and then let them out of his crate to go potty. I do this each time the scheduled potty breaks fall out of line with the schedule – with the exception of after eating or drinking water.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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. 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. Desensitization is the process of pairing positive experiences with an object, person, or situation that causes fear or anxiety. 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.
Punishment is operationally defined as an event that lowers the probability of the behavior that it follows. It is not "punishment" in the common sense of the word, and does not mean physical or psychological harm and most certainly does not mean abuse. Punishment simply involves the presentation of an undesired consequence (positive punishment) when the wrong behavior is performed, such as a snap of the leash, or the removal of a desired consequence (negative punishment) when the wrong behavior is performed, such as the trainer eating the cheese that would have been the reward. A behavior that has previously been developed may cease if reinforcement stops; this is called extinction. A dog that paws its owner for attention will eventually stop if it no longer receives attention.
Marian Breland Bailey played a major role in developing empirically validated and humane animal training methods and in promoting their widespread implementation. Marian was a graduate student under B.F. Skinner. Her first husband Keller Breland also came to study with Skinner and they collaborated with him, training pigeons to guide bombs. The Brelands saw the commercial possibilities of operant training, founding Animal Behavior Enterprises (ABE). In 1955, they opened the "I.Q. Zoo" as both a training facility and a showcase of trained animals. They were among the first to use trained animals in television commercials, and the first to train dolphins and whales as entertainment, as well as for the navy. Keller died in 1965, and in 1976 Marian married Bob Bailey, who had been director of marine mammal training for the navy. They pioneered the use of the clicker as a conditioned reinforcer for training animals at a distance. ABE went on to train thousands of animals of more than 140 species. Their work had significant public exposure through press coverage of ABE-trained animals, bringing the principles of behavior analysis and operant conditioning to a wide audience.