Prepare to Housebreak a Puppy!

Let me start by saying this:
Housebreaking a pet is hard. Housebreaking a pet is hard! Housebreaking a pet is HARD!

I don't mean to scare you, but one of the most common reasons that puppies are abandoned in shelters is because their former owners thought housebreaking would be a walk in the park. If you don't have a pet yet, understand that housebreaking a pet is really, really hard, because animals aren't born knowing what humans want!
Before you begin, commit to loving and caring for your pet for life, both physically and emotionally. Commitment deals with everything, not just potty training. If you've committed, then we can move on specifically to potty training your pet!

Question: How do we successfully potty trained our beloved animals?
Answer: By developing a pet potty schedule!
I know. Who needs to add anything else to our schedule? But if you got a pet, you probably were aware of the commitment it takes on our time. If you want your pet to be successful, you need to come up with a schedule to help your pet understand exactly where you expect them to go to the bathroom.

To make a schedule, you need to answer these questions:

When will you take your pet out?
Most pets, especially if they are young, need to go out several times a day. Schedule a time in the morning and a time before you put your pet to bed to take them to the restroom. You'll also need to schedule another time about 20 to 30 minutes after anytime they eat. Many times, pets also need to go after playing because their bowels have been churning.
If you schedule a morning, nighttime, food time, and playtime bathroom break, you'll be on your way to overcoming training your pet for a potty break!

Who will take your pet out?
If you are the only one responsible for your pet, then the answer is pretty clear. But if that's not the case, then establish who takes out the pet and when. This is important, because if people aren't aware of whose turn it is to do what at what time, then your pet is that much more disadvantaged.

How do we deal with crates?
We might feel guilty placing our pet into a crate, but there are good reasons to use a crate with your pet! First, crate training provides a safe area for your pet where they are unable to do anything wrong. Second, it teaches pets how to control their bladders so they don't go to the bathroom where they sleep.

Crate training is a misleading term, because it doesn't mean sticking your pet into a cage and leaving them. It means having an enclosure with a crate available. The crate itself should be big enough for your pet to be able to comfortably turn around but not big enough for them to walk around. If the crate is too big, then the pet might "pick a corner" and eliminate there and sleep on the other side.

An example of a good crate set up. Notice the pad, the food and water bowl, and the toy. 
This is a good crate set up. Notice: 1) The placement of the crate, 2) The toys available for the pet, 3) the placement of the pad, and 4) where the food and water bowls are.
Where is your designated pet potty area?

Decide on an area where you would like your pet to go potty. Lay down some washable puppy pee pads in the area. One is good for a small pet and two for a larger one. Make sure when you see them getting ready to go to place them on the pad as quickly as possible. If you know the phrase "If it's yellow, let it mellow, but if it's brown, flush it down," then you can use it as a reminder here. If your dog defecated, then clean up the pad. If they urinated, leave it there so that they know where to go next time.

For more on pet potty training, go to the Potty Training Step by Step page.