Teaching a puppy not to go to the bathroom in the house is one of the most frustrating parts of puppy ownership. It is also very time consuming. However, if you are proactive and consistent during the first 4 weeks when you bring the puppy home, you will see a big improvement and will prevent many months of toileting issues.
Keeping your puppy on a fixed schedule is the most important aspect of house training. You should feed your puppy, play with your puppy, take him on a walk and put him to bed at about the same time every night. If you provide this consistency to his schedule it will help you predict when he will need to go to the bathroom.
If there are several people in your household, keep a “potty diary” which tracks when the puppy went out, if he went to the bathroom, and if there were any mistakes in the house. This will help you to recognize patterns and adjust your schedule as needed.
Try to take your puppy to the same spot and at the same time every day. Stand outside with him for five to ten minutes. Say the same word to him every time you want him to toilet (like “go potty”). If he does toilet, praise him heavily. Give him lots of pets and even a treat! Show him that he is the best dog in the world every time he goes to the bathroom outside.
After he has toileted, stay outside for another few minutes. If you immediately rush the puppy inside after he goes to the bathroom he will learn to hold his bladder until he is done exploring.
If he does not toilet after 5-10 minutes then you have to either keep a VERY CLOSE eye on him or you can put him back in his crate. If you put the puppy in his crate, take him outside again after 20 minutes. If he pees, let him run around the house, if he doesn’t place him back in the crate and repeat the process until he does go outside.
It is critical to watch the puppy closely when he is in the house. Every time you come across a wet spot, the puppy has learned that it is okay to go to the bathroom in the house. But it also shows you that you need to pay closer attention since the puppy should not be able to sneak off and toilet on your favorite rug.
If you catch your puppy IN THE ACT, make a sudden noise (clap your hands or bang on the counter) and firmly say “no”. Immediately take the puppy outside to finish going to the bathroom. Do not punish your dog for theses mistakes. Punishment is counterproductive with house training and it will only teach your dog that he can still go in the house…just not in front of you.
If you don’t catch him in the act and you only find a wet spot, DO NOT correct him. Simply clean it up with any product that is especially designed to neutralize pet odor but also make sure to keep a better eye on him next time.