As with most things in life, there are hard ways and there are easy ways to get things done. Punishing a puppy or dog for a mess that has already happened is the hard way. Using ample supervision and positive reinforcement is the easy way.
Designate a Spot
Designating an appropriate elimination area outdoors and accompanying your dog to this location until he associates this spot with eliminating is a good way to start training your puppy or dog.
The odor left from previous visits to that area will quickly mark it as the place for the pup to do his business. Praise and an occasional food reward also help encourage elimination in a desired area.
To avoid spending a lot of time waiting for your puppy to go potty, simply repeat a unique command as your puppy does his business, such as "hurry up" or "potty" in an upbeat tone of voice. After a few weeks, you will notice that when you say the command your puppy will begin pre-elimination sniffing, circling, then eliminate shortly after you give the command.
Another way to ensure success is to set up a schedule. Start by controlling your puppy's feeding schedule. Meal times should be consistent and arranged so that you will be available to let him out after eating.
To avoid messes while you are away, avoid giving your puppy a large meal prior to confinement. The last feeding of the day should be completed several hours before your puppy is confined for the night.
Still, controlling the feeding schedule is only one way to develop a reliable schedule for eliminating.
Similar scheduling considerations should be taken for exercise sessions, confinement periods, and trips outdoors to the elimination area.
Training a puppy to be comfortable in a crate is a popular way to provide safe confinement during house training. The majority of puppies will rapidly accept crate confinement when you make the introduction fun. Play with him there or spend some time reading or watching television nearby as he relaxes with a favorite chew toy.
Make training a game. Feed your puppy his dinner, one piece at a time, by tossing pieces of kibble into the crate for him to chase and eat. Store toys in the crate so he will enter on his own to play. You may even want to occasionally hide a biscuit in the crate.
When you do have to crate while you are away, make sure you don't use the crate for periods that exceed the length of time the pet can actually control the urge to urinate or defecate.
Left on his own, the untrained puppy is very likely to make a mistake. Close supervision is very important to training. Do not consider your puppy house trained until he has gone at least four consecutive weeks without eliminating in the house.
For older dogs, this period should be even longer. Until then you puppy or dog should be constantly within your eyesight. Baby gates can be helpful to control movement throughout the house and to aid supervision.
When you are away from home, sleeping, or if you are just too busy to monitor your pet's activities, confine him to a small, safe area in the home.
If your dog or puppy squats and urinates when he greets you, he may have a problem called submissive urination. Most young puppies will grow out of this behavior if you are calm, quiet, and avoid reaching toward the head during greetings.
Another helpful approach is to calmly ask your dog to sit for a tasty treat each time someone greets him.
What to Do (and What Not to Do)
It is a rare dog or puppy that can be house trained without making an occasional mess. You need to be ready to handle the inevitable problems.
Urine and fecal odor should be thoroughly removed to keep your dog from returning to areas of the home where he made a mess. Be sure to use a good commercial product manufactured specifically to clean up pet odors and follow the manufacturer's recommendations for usage.
Rooms in the home where your dog has had frequent mistakes should be closed for several months. He should only be allowed to enter when accompanied by a family member.
If you see your dog getting ready to mess in the house, interrupt your dog with a "Outside" and lead your dog to the appropriate spot. Just do not be too loud or your pet may learn to avoid eliminating in front of you, even outdoors.
Finally, don't rely on harsh punishment to correct mistakes. It usually doesn't work, and may delay training.
The basic principles of house training are pretty simple; but a fair amount of patience is required. The most challenging part is always keeping an eye on your dog or puppy. If you maintain control, take your dog outdoors frequently, and consistently praise the desirable behavior, soon you should have a house trained canine companion.
Keep these points in mind as you work with your pet:
Expect an occasional mess
Invest in a good commercial product to clean up mess
Restrict access to areas where messes have occurred
Don't punish mistakes!