Needless to say, having a puppy around the nest can get hectic. Don't add to the chaos by putting off potty-training. Using the crate-training method, you can housebreak your puppy in a matter of weeks.
Designate a certain area of your home as you puppy's special area, and set up his crate there. The crate should be just large enough for your puppy to stand up, turn around and lie down in; there should not be a great deal of extra space. The crate-training principle is that a dog prefers not to soil his living space; he's less likely to do his business there if there's essentially no free space.
Line your puppy's crate with a soft blanket or a dog bed, and place his food and water dishes nearby.
Leave the door to the crate open for a week. Then begin feeding your puppy his meals inside the crate with the door open. This will help your puppy form a positive association with the crate, which is key to success in crate-training.
Confine your puppy to the crate for brief periods of time, with you in the room and then with you leaving the room. Extend the period away from the crate to two hours, and build up to four hours over a week or two. Once your puppy is able to consistently stand a four-hour confinement period you can begin to slowly increase the duration of the confinement.
Puppies as young as 12 weeks need to potty every couple of hours because they have not yet learned to control their bladders and bowels; by 17 weeks they've gained control, generally speaking, and are able to begin to wait longer between eliminations. A 6-month-old pup can stand to be left in the crate for three to four hours. By the time he's a year he should be able to stay in a crate up to 8 hours. Until that milestone is reached, if you plan to be gone for more than 4 or so hours, have a family member or friend stop by to let your puppy out.
Avoid keeping any food or water in the crate with your puppy while he is confined because it will make it more difficult for him to hold it. This is true whether the dog's 17 weeks old, 12 weeks old or full-grown.
Take your puppy outside just before you place him in the crate and immediately after you release him.
Lead your puppy to a certain area of the yard that you have designated as the "potty area." By training your puppy to do his business in only one area of the yard it will make the job of cleanup much easier.
Wait for your puppy to do his business in the potty area, then praise him excitedly to show him you approve of his behavior. Positive reinforcement methods including praise and reward are some of the best ways to encourage your puppy to repeat desired behaviors.
Supervise your puppy closely while you are at home and do your best to keep him in sight at all times. By keeping your puppy nearby you can watch for signs that he has to go and take him outside before he has an accident in the house.
Take your puppy outside every hour or two, especially after meals, and give him the opportunity to do his business. If he doesn't have to go, simply take him back inside and try again later.
- Try to set up your puppy's crate area in a place where your family spends a lot of time so your puppy doesn't feel like he is being left out or punished when you put him in the crate.
- Always be consistent when training your puppy -- if you praise your puppy every time he performs the desired behavior, he will learn very quickly and is likely to repeat the desired behavior.
- Never punish your puppy for accidents he may have during potty-training. If you punish your puppy he may not make the connection between the punishment and the undesirable behavior, he may simply learn to fear you instead.