I recommend confining your puppy to a defined space, whether that means in a crate or smaller room. When they learn that he/she needs to go outside to do their business, you can gradually give them more freedom to other parts of the house.
You need to follow these steps:
Keep the puppy on a regular feeding schedule and take away his food between meals. (This is to get him on a potty schedule) However balance this out by making sure he/she gets enough to eat. Puppies are easily distracted and can walk away before he/she is finished. You don’t want your puppy hungry because it can cause food aggression later. When feeding him on a schedule leave the food down for 30 minutes, if he doesn’t eat all of it right away to ensure he/she has fully eaten what he needs
Take puppy out to potty first thing in the morning and then once every 30 minutes to an hour. Also, always take him outside after meals or when he wakes from a nap. Make sure he goes out last thing at night and before he’s left alone. Once you have established a schedule you can move those times farther apart slowly. If an accident occurs shorten the time back to the time they didn’t have an issue. Keep it there until you feel he/she is ready to stretch the time again.
Have a key word “Outside”, “Piddle” or even “bathroom”. You can use different phases “Lets go piddle.” Or “Need to Piddle?” Just make sure that the one key word is in all your phrases. This word will resonate and make it clear what it is you expect from him. Over a period of time, you will start to get a response to the word, with barking and tail wagging common signs of comprehension.
Take puppy to the same spot each time to do his business. His scent will prompt him to go. This is why I recommend using a leash for awhile, so you can keep them on track and can lead them to the right spots.
Stay outside with them, at least until house trained.
When your puppy potties outside, praise him/her or give him a treat. A walk around the neighborhood is a nice reward.
Once they have the comprehension of going outside, you can teach them words, for the act. Your puppy will pick these up very quickly, and will soon become aware of what you want him to do, and when you want it to happen. You could use something like “go potty” for urination, or perhaps “go poop” when it’s a number two. It doesn’t really matter which words you use, as long as you keep them consistent and only use them for elimination. There will be a lot of repetition, but it does pay off.
A crate can be a great idea for house training your puppy, at least in the short term. It will allow you to watch them for signs they needs to go and teach them to hold it until you open the crate and let them outside.
Guidelines for crate use:
Make sure it is large enough for your puppy to stand, turn around, and lie down, but not big enough for them to potty on one side and sleep on another. A small Shih Tzu puppy does not need a large crate made for a lab. It is not cruel to keep them for short periods of time or over-night in one. The smaller size also gives them a safe place. Remember their world for most of their young lives were confined to their mother’s body. They know small areas are safe. A larger place is fun and new but very scary to a puppy.
If you use a crate for more than two hours make sure you have fresh water, preferably in a dispenser that can be attach to the crate. Puppies can be clumsy and knock over their bowls. You don’t want them to be sitting in a wet cage for a long period of time, as well with nothing to drink.
If you work all day or can’t be home for 8 hours, make sure somebody else gives him a break in the middle of the day for the first 8 months. A puppy should never be left alone for more than 4 hours without a potty break.
Don’t use a crate if your puppy keeps going potty in it. Puppies will have accidents. If the accidents keep occurring and you followed the recommended steps and he/she is not sick, it could have several meanings. If they are not one of mine, they may have brought bad habits from a shelter, another breeder or pet store where he/she lived before. You also might want to consider that they may not be getting outside enough; or the crate may be too big. Before getting rid of the crate, I would recommend taking he/she to your veterinarian to rule out a medical issue.
Your best chance of success comes if you can anticipate his needs!
Generally speaking, the amount of time that the puppy can be left in a crate without being allowed out is about the same as his age in months:
2 months old = 2 hours of confinement without a potty break 3 months old = 3 hours of confinement without a potty break 4 months old = 4 hours of confinement without a potty break etc. – up to about 6 – 8 months of age.
When you have a change in what he does actively (walking, eating, playing, etc.), you need to take him outside ASAP!
Signs That Your Puppy Needs to Go
Whining, circling, sniffing, barking or, if you are holding your puppy they can become fidgety and wanting to be put down are all signs he needs to go. Take him out right away.
House Training Setbacks
Accidents are common in puppies up to a year old. The reasons for accidents range from incomplete house training to a change in the puppy’s environment, even schedule changes
When your puppy does have an accident, keep on training. Then if it still doesn’t seem to be working, see your veterinarian to rule out a medical issue.
Do's and Don’ts in Potty Training Your Puppy
Keep the following do's and don'ts in mind while housetraining your puppy:
Punishing your puppy for having an accident is a definite no-no. Puppies aren’t intellectually capable of connecting your anger with their accident.
If you catch your puppy in the act, clap loudly so he knows he’s done something unacceptable. Then take him outside by calling him or taking him gently by the collar. When he’s finished, praise him or give him a small treat.
If you found the evidence but didn’t see the act, don’t react angrily by yelling or rubbing his nose in it. They will not understand. If it is a sold then show the dog the accident, tell he/she NO firmly but without yelling or using other words. Pick up the solid waste with a paper towel and set the solid outside. Show the dog and tell him “Good Boy/Girl” let them sniff for understanding. Then remove the solid waste.
Staying outside longer with your puppy may help to curb accidents. They may need the extra time to explore. Some dogs need that extra time to “find the perfect spot” or play first to help loosen thing up and get them flowing. This can be frustrating for parents but the extra time will insure less accidents.
Clean up accidents with an enzymatic cleanser rather than an ammonia-based cleaner to minimize odors that might attract your puppy back to the same spot. You can also use Vinegar to kill the enzymatic as a natural cleaner.