Contrary to popular belief, house-training a puppy requires far more than a few stacks of old newspapers -- it calls for vigilance, patience, and plenty of commitment. By following the procedures outlined below, you can minimize house-soiling incidents, but virtually every puppy will have an accident in the house, and more than one, most likely. Expect this -- it's part of raising a puppy. The more consistent you are in following the basic house-training procedures, however, the faster your puppy will learn acceptable behavior. It might take several weeks to house-train your puppy, and with some of the smaller breeds, it might take even longer.
Don't give your puppy an opportunity to soil in the house; keep an eye on him whenever he's indoors. You can tether him to you with a six-foot leash, or use baby gates to keep him in the room where you are. Watch for signs that he needs to eliminate, like sniffing around or circling. When you see these signs, immediately grab the leash and take him outside to his bathroom spot. If he eliminates, praise him lavishly and reward him with a treat.
When you're unable to watch your puppy at all times, he should be confined to an area small enough that he won't want to eliminate there. The space should be just big enough for him to comfortably stand, lie down, and turn around in. You can use a portion of a bathroom or laundry room blocked off with baby gates. Or you might want to crate-train your puppy and use the crate to confine him. (Be sure to learn how to use a crate humanely as a method of confinement.) If your puppy has spent several hours in confinement, you'll need to take him directly to his bathroom spot as soon as you let him out, and praise him when he eliminates.
Expect your puppy to have a few accidents in the house -- it's a normal part of house-training. Here's what to do when that happens:
It's extremely important that you use the supervision and confinement procedures outlined above to prevent the number of accidents. If you allow your puppy to eliminate frequently in the house, he'll get confused about where he's supposed to eliminate, which will prolong the house-training process.
A puppy under six months of age cannot be expected to control his bladder for more than a few hours at a time. If you have to be away from home more than four or five hours a day, this might not be the best time for you to get a puppy; instead, you might want to consider an older dog, who can wait for your return.
But if you're already committed to having a puppy and must be away for long periods of time, you'll need to make arrangements for someone, such as a responsible neighbor or a professional pet-sitter, to take him outside to eliminate. Or you'll need to train him to eliminate in a specific place indoors. Be aware, however, that doing so can prolong the process of house-training. Teaching your puppy to eliminate on newspaper might create a life-long surface preference, meaning that even as an adult he might eliminate on any newspaper lying around the living room.
When your puppy must be left alone for long periods of time, confine him to an area with enough room for a sleeping space, a playing space, and a separate place to eliminate. In the area designated as the elimination area, use either newspapers or a sod box. To make a sod box, place sod in a container such as a child's small, plastic swimming pool. You can also find dog litter products at a pet supply store. If you clean up an accident in the house, put the soiled rags or paper towels in the designated elimination area. The smell will help your puppy recognize the area as the place where he is supposed to eliminate.
If you've consistently followed the house-training procedures and your puppy continues to eliminate in the house, there might be another reason for his behavior, such as: