What Method Should You Use
There are a variety of methods that have been used over the years and may have been proven unsound. Many of them use negative training methods. Some methods give the puppy free reign over the house with no regulations of food or water, then punishes the puppy by hitting or rubbing their nose in the mess when a potty accident occurs. Other methods interrupt the puppy when they are urinating or defecating in the house by picking them up during the process and whisking them outside while loudly shouting NO and BAD DOG. This could scare them into thinking that outside is a bad place and they could even learn to fear eliminating in your presence. If you discover an accident well after the fact, punishment is not helpful and is inefficient, it is only helpful if given immediately after the accident. No matter how frustrated you are, clean up the mess and work on preventing the next accident. Prevention, praise and positive training are the best means of training a puppy.
Paper training is not the best method of choice, contrary to popular opinion. It encourages the puppy to eliminate on newspapers spread over the floor. Many times they miss the boundaries of the paper and can teach them that it is acceptable to eliminate in the house. Also, this method calls for later retraining your puppy to go outside after you have already taught them to go inside on the newspaper. Crate training is one of the best methods and is discussed in the previous section of this care guide. Puppies less than 4 - 6 months old require frequent outdoor potty trips. They cannot be expected to be able to hold their bladder and control their bowels until this age. It is always best to be at home with the puppy or be there to take them outside every 2 -4 hours, or every hour if possible. When you cannot watch them they should be confined in a crate or in a very small area.
What You Will Need
First, be sure that your house is odor-free from any previous accidents caused by another pet. Use a good odor counteractive product to eliminate the scent. All good pet stores will sell odor products designed specifically for this purpose. Do not use bleach, ammonia or vinegar - they are completely ineffective. Second, purchase a crate as described in the crate training section.
The first day or two of housetraining will be spent determining your dog's elimination schedule. Every 60-90 minutes take them outdoors and give them the opportunity to relieve themselves. Take them out through the same door each time, repeating encouraging phrases such as "do you want to go outside?". With the tone of your voice, try to elicit as much excitement as possible. You must stay with your puppy (yes, even in foul weather) so you know for sure what they did. It is preferable to walk your puppy on a leash to the yard within 15 minutes of a meal and immediately upon waking from a nap. Therefore, you should feed your puppy at scheduled times and do not allow many snacks between meals. Food should not be left out all day for them to nibble on when they choose. Allow them 15 minutes to approach their food and begin eating. If they do not do so within the allotted time, remove the food and DO NOT feed him until the following day at the regularly scheduled time. As with food, water should not be at the pet's disposal throughout the entire day. Give them water three times a day and remove it immediately after they are finished drinking. Also, no water is to be given within several hours prior to bedtime in order to prevent elimination during the night. Walk your puppy to the same area of your yard each time to encourage the connection with the business at hand. If your puppy does not do well on a leash, carry it to the preferred spot and slowly work on the leash training. When the puppy prepares to eliminate, say something like "hurry up" or "time to potty". This teaches the puppy to void on command so that you won't freeze unnecessarily on a cold winter night while the pup leisurely looks for just the right spot, or when traveling or when you are in a hurry. Give your dog 10 minutes and bring them back in. Closely supervise them and take them out again one hour later.
Watch for Warning Signs
As time goes on you will learn a good deal about your puppy's behavior and when it may be time to go outside. A good deal of sniffing or walking in circles in a certain area is generally an indication that it is time for a walk. Whining, pacing, barking and scratching at the door also indicate a need to go out. If your dog has an accident in the house when they are out of your sight, clean it up and use a good odor neutralizer, and promise to watch him more closely. If you catch them in the act, simply tell them "no" in a shape tone and take them outside immediately. Do not hit or threaten them, just allow them to finish in the designated area and praise, praise, praise.
The Umbilical Cord Method
This method of house training is best used with the other techniques described above. Attach your puppy to a long leash that is tied to your wrist or waist. This allows the puppy a certain amount of freedom while ensuring your constant supervision over their activity. The pup cannot wander away to have an undetected accident and you can anticipate the pups need to go outside. This method may be applied as an alternative to overnight crate confinement or isolation in another part of your home. The pup may be leashed to your bed or at least in your bedroom overnight. While some puppies may have accidents where they sleep, they may be less anxious when their owners are nearby, and may have a positive effect on their behavior.
The Last Word
During this entire process, your dog should never be out of your sight unless they are confined in a fashion that makes it virtually impossible for them to make a mistake. This is not as difficult as it may seem. Keep your dog in the same room with you and don't allow them to wander. It is very unlikely that they would eliminate in front of you; but if they go to an unsupervised area to do so, they most certainly will eliminate and you are creating a bad behavior that is extremely difficult to correct. Housetraining can take several weeks or several months, depending on any previous training or lack thereof.