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!
Changing behavior takes time. You need to have realistic expectations about changing your dog’s behavior as well as how long it will take to change behaviors that you don’t like. Often behaviors which are “normal” doggie behaviors will take the most time such as barking, digging and jumping. You also need to consider how long your dog has rehearsed the behavior. For example, if you didn’t mind that your dog jumped up on people to say hi for the last seven years and now you decide that you don’t want him to do that anymore, that behavior will take a much longer time to undo than if you had addressed it when he was a pup. Remember it’s never too late to change the behavior some will just take longer than others.
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]
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,[42] 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.[43] 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.[44]
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?

Teach your dog where he SHOULD take his potty breaks, instead of trying to use punishment to teach him where he should NOT go potty. If you focus on what you want him to do, instead of what you don’t want your dog to do, you’ll get faster results. Teaching your dog where it’s OK to go is very important, and one of the reasons why so many people are never successful in potty training their dogs.


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.
If pup is peeing in the wrong place... you may be able to stop him. Move quickly towards him when he begins to pee and pick him up. Urgency is key here - you want to startle the pup just a little as you move towards them to pick them up, but you DO NOT want to scare the pup. You are redirecting your puppy to the right spot - not disciplining him. Immediately after picking him up, take him to the potty area and patiently wait. Most pups will finish there. Reward your pup with exuberance!
Here’s one thing we’ve found that works really well, especially for people who will be taking their dog with them over to others peoples house and don’t want to be embarrassed when Fido eliminates on the carpet. Get a bell and attach it to a rope or something so it can be hung around the doorknob. Then through the shaping process teach your dog when he bumps the bell with his nose he goes outside.
A satirized version of Millan was portrayed in "Tsst", the May 3, 2006, episode of the Comedy Central animated series South Park. In the episode, Liane Cartman enlists Millan's help in applying his principles to her misbehaving son, Eric Cartman. The principles work and Eric temporarily becomes completely reformed. However, in the end when he refuses to go on an outing with his mother, she caves in to his demands in order to persuade him to go along with her, thus reverting his behavior to its original state. In 2010, when Millan was asked if he was offended at all by the episode, he stated that the creators of the show (Trey Parker and Matt Stone) contacted him to inform him of their intentions beforehand and that he found the episode fantastic.[52] Millan reacted to the episode in a video posted on November 13, 2019 to his YouTube channel.[53]

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]
Even if you try to transition to the outdoors, your puppy will be confused because you will likely have items resembling potty pads lying around the house. Do you have pillows? Blankets? Sheets? Rugs? It’s not a stretch to think that your puppy, or an older dog, even, may confuse one or more of these items with plushy, soft potty pads and decide it would rather go there than outdoors. Just save yourself the headache and don’t use puppy pads.
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.
Letting your pup outside every hour or two gets old, but it’s the simplest way to prevent accidents from happening. If you’ve ever wondered why some people choose to get new puppies during the summer or when they’re on vacation it probably has to do with potty training. If you’ve house training a dog before you know how much time & commitment it takes.
When you have to leave the puppy alone, you’ll need to confine it to a crate. This will prevent the puppy from peeing and pooping all over your home, and will also help teach it control, since it won’t want to soil the crate. However, young puppies need frequent bathroom breaks, so you’ll also need to ask a friend or pet-sitter to stop by and let the puppy out throughout the day until it’s old enough to go for longer stretches without needing to use the bathroom.

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]
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 »
"Cesar Millan Live!" is an international touring dog training lecture and stage performance where Millan presents his techniques and philosophy from his television shows and books in front of a live audience. The show consists of one-half lecture and one-half demonstration with local shelter dogs, in which he uses his pack-leader training techniques to modify negative behaviors.[29]
Learned helplessness occurs when a dog ceases to respond in a situation where it has no option to avoid a negative event. For learned helplessness to occur, the event must be both traumatic and outside the dog's control.[53] Family dogs that are exposed to unpredictable or uncontrolled punishment are at risk of developing disturbances associated with the learned helplessness disorder. Punishment which is poorly coordinated with identifiable avoidance cues or response options, such as when punishment takes place long after the event, meet the criteria of inescapable trauma.[43]
Young puppies can’t hold their bowels & bladders for long. If you come home to find that they’ve had an accident in there it’s quite possible that they can’t hold it that long. Generally puppies can hold their bladder for about one hour per month of age. So your 3 month old pup can probably only hold their bladder for about 3 hours. If you’re going to be away at work for long periods of time see if you can get a neighbor, relative or dog sitter to come over to let your pup out during the day.
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?

"Cesar Millan Live!" is an international touring dog training lecture and stage performance where Millan presents his techniques and philosophy from his television shows and books in front of a live audience. The show consists of one-half lecture and one-half demonstration with local shelter dogs, in which he uses his pack-leader training techniques to modify negative behaviors.[29]

What ? To house train my puppy I have to call a cab? Well, not exactly, here's the scoop. Puppies will decide to potty or poop instantly, giving you no warning. So many times when housetraining, a puppy is led to the door and on the way they just stop and do their business. This usually happens because the puppy has not developed enough bladder or bowel control yet to "hold it" until they get to the toilet area or they simply don't know where the toilet area is yet. Not only has the pup made "a mistake," but you have lost a chance to reward for going in the right place.
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]
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