1. Take the dog out on a leash to where you want her to go, every hour to begin with (Don’t just send her out the door on her own, as she may prefer staying near you to going out alone. Consequently she may sit near the door and wait to be let back inside instead of doing her business. She may also find other interesting things to explore while outdoors instead of relieving herself if she isn’t being monitored.). If the dog goes, praise and give a treat immediately (not when you get back in the house). If the dog does not go, crate her and try again in 20 to 30 minutes. Make sure you give the dog enough time outdoors to go, as some dogs take a bit of time to get past the initial distractions of sights and scents to pick a spot and go. Repeat on a schedule throughout the entire day.
2. Once you have a good idea of when and how often the dog actually needs to go, make sure you stick with that schedule. You can begin scaling back the frequency of trips outdoors as you get a feel for your dog’s needs. If the dog needs to go within 5 minutes of waking up from a nap, but you wait 10 minutes to take her outside, you’ll likely have a mess to clean up! Be alert to your dog’s body language, such as sniffing for a spot to pee, circling, going to the door, whining, etc.
2. Keep the dog confined to a crate or other small area when you can’t supervise her directly. In some cases, keeping the dog tethered to you where you can watch her all the time is advisable. Then she can’t slip away unnoticed to pee out of your sight. Do not expect the dog to hold it for very long even if she is crated. If she normally goes every 3 hours but she has to wait for 4, well, she probably won’t wait!
4. Never, ever scold the dog for accidents indoors. This is especially true if the accident is older than a few seconds; she will not associate an accident that happened 5 hours ago, or even 5 minutes ago, with you being upset now. In her mind, those two things have nothing to do with each other, and she isn’t learning anything good from being scolded after the fact. Scolding, swatting, or “rubbing her nose in it” does more harm than good; a fearful, confused, or anxious dog can’t learn very well. When you catch the dog in the act in an inappropriate place, firmly say “no” and quickly take her to where you would like her to eliminate outdoors. Remember to praise and treat afterward when she does go!
Remember that while these initial efforts may seem difficult or tedious to stick with, the payoff is worth it. In a few weeks you’ll be well on your way to a nicely housetrained dog!