Puppies rely on their owners to teach them what is acceptable behavior. When they understand what you want, it makes everyone's life much nicer. This is especially when it comes to potty training. Puppies are like human toddlers: they need constant supervision. Six to sixteen weeks is the best window of opportunity to help them understand where and how you want them to go potty. When puppies are very young (6-12 weeks old) they can't hold their urine very long. They should be taken out on a leash every hour on the hour to eliminate outdoors, or to their potty area if training them to go indoors. If your puppy takes a drink of water, take him out within 10 minutes. It is best to choose either indoor or outdoor in the beginning and stick with it. If you start with an indoor potty area then later try to train them to go outdoors the puppy will be very confused. Some puppies need to be potty trained by the "umbilical cord" method: they are on a leash tied directly to you, their owner, at all times when indoors. This way you won't miss any of the cues (sniffing, searching, squatting) that tell you your puppy needs to go. When going out to "go potty", take your puppy out on a leash and try to get him to focus on why you are outside with a verbal command like "Let's go potty!" or "Do your business!". If he eliminates outdoors, give him a food treat and praise, then, if in a safe area, let him off leash to play. If there is no elimination, he goes back indoors under supervision for another hour. Watch him closely for sniffing, pacing, or squatting! If you catch him in the act, interrupt with a firm "no!" and take him outside to finish. Many puppies frustrate their owners because after time spent outside or on a walk they immediately come inside and urinate or defecate. This can be because the great outdoors is so fascinating that they forget why they went out in the first place, only remembering that they have to go when they get back inside. Alternatively, the puppy is smart enough to realize that as soon as he goes potty, walk/playtime is over and they are rushed back inside. These puppies hold it as long as possible to prolong their time outdoors. This is why it helps to use time off the leash in the yard or an extended leash walk as a reward for eliminating.
Supervision is the key to potty training. If your does have an accident, don't make a big deal out of it or punish him. Punishment after the fact confuses the puppy, and makes him afraid of eliminating. As he gets older and has figured out what to do, it is okay to leave him for longer periods of time between eliminations. No dog should have to hold it's urine or feces for more than four hours. If you work, make sure that you or a designated puppy caregiver go home mid-day to let him out. These are all very important things to consider when contemplating adoption of a puppy. If you work 12 hour shifts and no one can be home with the puppy, you will need a doggy day care or pet sitter. Make sure your lifestyle allows the time and care a puppy (and later adult dog) will need!
Here is a list of tips designed to help you train your new puppy.
Remember, every puppy is different, and the time it takes to potty train can vary. Stay patient, consistent, and positive throughout the process. If you encounter difficulties, consult with a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer for additional guidance.