Puppy housebreaking should start just as soon as you bring your puppy home - and it is the best way to teach your puppy to go outside when it has to relieve itself.
How long does it take? The easiest answer is: as long as puppy housebreaking takes. I had one German Shepherd puppy that housetrained herself pretty much in just over 3 days, and I have had others that took closer to 2 weeks.
All puppies are different and not all can be housetrained in the same amount of time.
When you get your puppy home the first day, start puppy housebreaking him immediately. After he has been briefly introduced to his home and new surroundings, give him a drink of water and immediately take him outside to relieve himself. Take the puppy to the area you chose before bringing him home. Remember, choice of this housebreaking spot is crucial as it enhances the housetraining - so take careful consideration of where "the housebreaking spot" is before bringing your puppy home.
There is a direct correlation between the time you actually put into the puppy housebreaking process and the speed in which the housebreaking of the puppy successfully occurs.
This is a very crucial puppy housebreaking step so be patient and wait until the puppy relieves himself. It may take a while especially with all the new things happening to your new puppy, all the new smells, unfamiliar objects, etc. Do not play with the puppy however until after it has "done it's business". If you do, it may make the puppy forget about going at all. Since housebreaking is all new to the puppy it doesn't know what it's purpose of being in "the housebreaking spot" is in the first place.
As soon as your puppy finishes, praise it excitedly and immediately take him inside. From that point on, take the puppy to the same housebreaking spot each time and encourage him with a command such as "go toilet", "hurry up" or whatever you choose. Be consistent using this single command only with the process of puppy housebreaking so that the puppy will learn to associate this act with the command. This will be a huge help in the future, especially when in a new environment or location when traveling, visiting relatives/friends, etc. Being completely housebroken and completely reliable is the final outcome you are looking for.
You must watch them like a hawk at all times - in the beginning of housebreaking especially. If you can not keep an eye on your puppy for some reason please put them in a safe and secure puppy proofed spot (such as a crate or some other small room with easy to clean floors, such as linoleum, closed off with a baby gate so you can peek in as needed). If you are consistent in your puppy housebreaking in the very beginning, ESPECIALLY when it is inconvenient to you (late at night, while you are watching your favourite TV show, etc.), you will actually help the puppy housebreak itself to alert you when it "has to go".
The puppy should be taken out immediately (to a prearranged housebreaking area outside):when it wakes up first thing in the morning (before if you manage to get up before the puppy),
after each and every meal,
after each and every nap,
and again before he goes to bed for the night.
Another good housebreaking tip is to give them their water early in the evening and to not feed or water it after say, 6:00 at night, otherwise you may have to make more housebreaking toilet trips than usual outside to let the puppy relieve itself. Keep the puppy on a strict housebreaking schedule, and you will have puppy housebreaking success much sooner.
More Puppy Housebreaking and Housetraining Secrets: From Housebreaking to Housebroken
Know in advance that a very young puppy will probably not be able to go through the night without relieving itself so get used to taking it out during the middle of the night until it grows enough to sleep through the night.
You wouldn't expect a young human baby to be potty trained in a week, would you? Give the same consideration to your new puppy. He will not be able to be considered reliable as far as housebreaking goes either after only a few days. The puppy too is a baby with a small bladder and weak sphincter muscles. Like human babies, your puppy will be able to go longer between housebreaking breaks as it grows older and will soon become completely housebroken if you are vigilant in the housebreaking process.
If you find your puppy has made a mistake in the house and you did not catch it in the act, simply clean the spot without comment. Clean up all residue and clean the area with a bacteria/enzyme digester. These housetraining aids are readily available. This will get rid of both the stain and the smell. And the smell is the most important part to get rid of. Even if you can't smell the urine, believe me, your puppy can and he will be encouraged to go back to the same spot again unless you remove ALL urine odours. This is absolutely critical in housebreaking your puppy.
If you find the puppy "in the act", scoop him up as quickly as possible with his tail between his legs (to help prevent spillage) and take him out asap. Say "out" or "quick" as you take him out but never NO. Since No is used for negative things you do not want your puppy to think that going to the toilet is wrong, no matter where he does it.
If the puppy thinks that it is bad he will probably start hiding it from you and you do not want that to happen. That is a whole other behavioural issue to contend with and believe me it's much better and easier to prevent behavioural problems before they happen than having to deal with them later.
Puppies raised in small runs or cages develop dirty habits right from the beginning making housebreaking harder. Since they are used to playing and sleeping in their own excrement they will not have any problem with continuing to do so. This is not the puppy's fault, it's just what they were accustomed to from an early age. Keep in mind, housebreaking puppies raised in these type of situations can be much harder and more time consuming than usual but housetraining can still can be done.
Overall, puppy housebreaking problems are often more of a human problem than a puppy problem. If the new owner is steadfast in keeping a watch on the puppy in the beginning of ownership, especially during the first 2 weeks of housetraining, then puppy housebreaking can accomplished and they will become a reliable member of the family as far as bathroom visits are concerned and will soon be completely housebroken.
Remember, as the new owner you must be patient with the housebreaking process. Each puppy will housetrain at his own speed and with your help. Take him out religiously as outlined above, and keep him on a strict feeding/bathroom housebreaking schedule (as well as anytime the puppy acts as though he has to "go out". It is very important that you learn to read your puppy's signals during the housebreaking process: sniffing out "a spot", circling, whining, going to the door, etc.
Finally, think about how you would like to be housetrained if you were in the puppy's place. They won't respond well to being yelled at, jerked around or frightened any better than you would. A kinder, gentler and more patient puppy housebreaking approach will yield much better results, help you bond with your puppy and develop a more confident housebroken dog in the long run. And isn't that what we all want as dog owners?