How to Completely House Train a Puppy in Two Weeks
I accidentally stumbled upon the best companion of all time about 8 years ago when a friend of mine let me have a 6 week old Weimaraner puppy. I knew I was getting the dog as soon as conception occurred so I immediately began reading books on the breed, and studying up on all different types of training, including crate training and potty training. Since Weimaraners are known for separation anxiety, we (my roommate and I) decided to crate train her since we both worked around 8 hours a day and didn't want her to chew up the house while we were gone. It actually worked out really well. My suggestion to anyone considering buying a puppy is to research the breed they are about to buy to make sure you can handle the responsibilities and quirks that each unique breed is known for and go from there.
Just a disclaimer: These are the methods I personally used that totally worked and were absolutely fool proof...It might depend on the breed, the owner's dedication (I was completely OCD about house training). But if you are having problems housebreaking a puppy from day one or need some advice, I'm offering what worked for me and a 6 week old Weimaraner. And there HAVE been times where it was my fault that she urinated in the house because I wasn't attentive enough (when she was first being trained) but believe it or not she has NEVER EVER pooped in the house except once when she had a bad case of diarrhea while I was asleep. Can you imagine how lucky I am that I've never had to pick up poo in the house??
My Secret Weapon
From my psychology background and what I learned about conditioning in school (skinner and his pigeons and rats etc) I decided to hang a bell on a string low enough to the floor where she could reach it when the time came for her to ring it to go outside ---which was part of my plan--to have her ring the bell so I would know when she needed out no matter what I was doing and at the same time teach her how to let me know that she needed to potty. The bell was literally the magic that made the potty training happen in two weeks.
There are essentially THREE occasions that a puppy will need to potty: when they first wake up, when they eat or drink, when they are first let out of a kennel when crate training. That means you have to KNOW what your puppy is doing. If your puppy is napping you need to be on top of things and when it wakes up take it outside. As soon as it gets finished eating and drinking, immediately take it outside.
This is where the bell came into play. Any time I took my puppy outside I carried her because she couldn't go down the stairs by herself yet and because I didn't want her to accidentally use the restroom on the way out the door. So at first I would snatch her up after she ate, when I first got home from work and she had been in the kennel all day etc and carry her to the door and ring the bell MYSELF so she would associate the bell with the door opening to go potty.
I also knew that if she were to ever ring the bell herself, no matter if it was an accident or not, that I had to immediately get to the door to let her out so the behavior would be reinforced. One night while my roommate and I were on different sides of the house doing different things we heard the bell ring and we almost killed ourselves running to get to the door to let her out. But it worked, after that day whenever she needed out she would always ring the bell and we would always respond as a first priority. In other words we would drop what we were doing to take her to the restroom. From that day forward she has never defecated in the house and had only a couple of minor urine issues when someone didn't hear the bell or we didn't drop what we were doing immediately to let her out.
How Long Did it Take You to Housebreak Your Dog?
A Note About Crate Training
Some people have issues with crate training dogs, and I understand that, however, it worked great in my situation because I worked 8 hour days. In a proper sized crate a dog will not use the restroom where it sleeps (unless its an emergency or left too long). We quickly realized that 8 hours was our puppy's limit and anything longer than that was just too long. So this meant coming home from work everyday immediately to let her out. Another benefit is that when a dog is in a crate it doesn't have access to food and water so the need to relieve itself isn't as great. Like I said, in my situation it worked like a charm and though she is 8 years old now and no longer even requires a bell to let us know she needs outside, she still stays in the kennel if we are going to be gone for long periods of time, NOT because we are scared she will urinate in the house but because Weimaraners have separation anxiety. Meaning she will get into the trash or tear something up if she ISN'T in the kennel. She has gotten a lot better and the kennel is actually out in the garage and I trust that she isn't going to eat my sofa ever again.
Whose Fault is it?
Ultimately housetraining a dog is completely up to the owner to be 100% attentive and responsive. This means until the dog is trained, the responsibility falls on the owner's laziness, inattentiveness, or unwillingness to devote the proper amount of time and energy involved in getting the job done. It is entirely possible to housebreak a dog in TWO weeks if you are willing to give the puppy your full attention and respond in a timely manner. The number one reason for newly trained puppy's accidents is due to an inattentive owner who doesn't follow the rule of thumb that puppies use the restroom after they eat and drink, wake up, or are taken out of their kennel. You don't have to be THIS militant about it but the results will, in my opinion, not be as rapid as a result. Sure, you don't have to follow a strict regimen with your puppy but don't expect quick results through inconsistency on your part. Like I said I take full responsibility for any accidents my puppy had in that first two weeks and even after. It was my fault for not being responsive enough.