Housebreaking is not difficult if you follow a couple of very basic rules. The most important are "when in doubt - take them out," "praise, praise, praise," and "be consistent."
Let's start with "take them out." All dogs will give you some kind of sign that they have to go out. All you have to do is figure it out. Typically, you will see circling and sniffing. Once the signs are given, immediately scoop the pup up and take the puppy out. Mind you, you have just interrupted the puppy's train of thought and it will take a few minutes for puppy to remember what he was doing. Many times we bring them in too early only to have them potty in the house. Give them plenty of time.
When you see the signs, give the deed a name. "Go out, go potty, and hurry up" all come to mind. Be consistent and use the same name every time. After all, when you are teaching "sit" you use the same name each and every time.
Once the deed is done "praise, praise, praise," then praise some more. This helps to get your point across. Never severely reprimand the puppy for going potting in the house. Remember - all dogs give a sign - you missed it. If caught in the act in the house, say "NO! Outside!" and pick the pup up and take it out.
Rain, snow, sleet, hail, hurricane or dark of night - never ignore a sign, not even once. This will only confuse the puppy. Avoiding mixed signals reinforces what you are teaching. In other words, consistency is the key.
When do puppies have to go potty? Immediately upon awakening (even after naps), when excited (like when it sees you after an absence), after eating or drinking, after playing, and just because. Yes, all the time. This is where "when in doubt" comes in. Don't give your pup a chance to fail.
Here are some additional tips that will make housetraining a little easier:
1. Feed you pup at the same time every day.
2. Make notes as to the actual time when puppy goes potty. This will help you to see just how often you need to take puppy out.
3. Limit water before bedtime.
4. Keep the water bucket outside, which will help reinforce "outside."
5. Never leave puppy unattended in the house - this is asking for an accident.
6. If puppy is outside during the day, don't come straight into the house when you bring him/her in. Typically that little walk will generate an "accident" upon coming in. Spend a little time outside before entering the house.
7. Don't expect your puppy to be able to hold it for long. It is unfair to leave puppy in a crate for 3 hours or so during the day, especially when you first bring her home.
8. It always takes longer to train for urination.
9. Remember to always clean up after your dog and to take plastics bags with you when you go for a walk.
When puppy goes potty:
... when puppy wakes up
... after eating
... after playing
... after a nap
... a whole bunch of time in between!