(This is a basic explanation I have written as general information. Please ask your dog not to be offended by my use of the pronoun she if your dog is a male.)
What follows is not some home grown technique but a simple, research-based method developed by certified applied animal behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar, PhD. Your puppy can be trained to eliminate in only one outdoor location, she will get consistent fun rewards for good work, and you will give her the security of a gentle reliable structure.
Ready? Effective immediately your puppy is not allowed to make a single indoor mistake. This is essential because even one mess marks the spot with a scent for future mistakes, plus it sets a bad habit into motion. “Close tethering” will help. When you’re at home clip a 6-8 foot leash on your puppy’s harness or collar and tie the other end to your belt. Give that baby a rawhide or other chew toy and tell her how excellent she is for chewing the right thing as she bonds to you via artificial umbilical cord. You will watch her like a hawk.
If you see her squat to eliminate, say “Puppy, Outside!” and run with her to the designated outdoor dog bathroom. Never punish-you’ll scare the kid into relieving herself only when you’re not around. Some people have resorted to show and tell. Fuhgettaboutit; there is no evidence that it helps and you’ll embarrass your puppy.
Here’s the game: Pick one day (real soon) that you can dedicate to intensive housetraining. Early in the morning put your brand spanking new puppy in a confined area like a generous sized dog crate or a small bathroom, sans rugs, towels, and shower curtain. Don’t interact with the kid except hourly when you put a leash on him and exclaim in a happy voice, “Puppy, Outside!” Head out to the dumping ground with special treats in your pocket. If he eliminates in the general vicinity of the target he gets the treat, an expression of your undying love, and the best part of all, a walk with you off your property. If after three minutes he hasn’t produced, say nothing and take him back to confinement. He will succeed at some point and you will make it worth the wait. Is this exciting or what? Repeat hourly until bedtime.
Dogs are not really little people in furry suits and that’s why their rules are different. Essential to their innate social hardwiring is the process of leaving the den area (crate or small bathroom) to eliminate (the yard) and then enjoying a jaunt in the wilds beyond (that special leash walk) where they can check the canine bulletin boards and leave a few messages of their own.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Brand new puppies right out of the box usually succeed with this method in just one day. Those with established bad habits need more repetition, and in some cases, serious behavior modification. But you must have faith and use plenty of food rewards. In the words of Dr. Dunbar, “a puppy will learn that his good work is the equivalent of tokens in a food vending machine.” You are the machine.