To housetrain a puppy you need 100% supervision. The puppy needs to be in the room with you as much as possible -- never loose in the house until much later. If you see the puppy start to have an accident, you don't punish or yell. You scoop the puppy up and rush her outside, in the hopes of getting her to finish there. You praise her for relieving herself in this proper place. Start out housetraining by going out WITH the puppy about once per hour, when you are at home and awake. As she progresses and you get to know her better you can decide how often she needs to go, and eventually you can watch her from the door if you have a fenced yard. Don't leave her outside alone -- it isn't good housetraining and lots of bad things happen to dogs alone outside, especially cute little ones. Unless you must leave your puppy alone for long hours it is not a good idea to use any method that involves teaching the dog to relieve herself in the house. It can confuse her and make complete housetraining take longer. Sometimes this problem is unavoidable if people have to be gone to work when puppies are young. If you find an accident after the fact, oops, it's not the puppy's fault, it's the owner's fault! You weren't watching the puppy well enough. Never punish for housebreaking accidents. That can create much worse problems, such as a puppy who won't relieve in front of you at all, a puppy who gets defensive out of fear of punishment and starts snapping at people, or a puppy who starts submissively urinating. Any accidents need to be thoroughly deodorized with either white vinegar (only works while the spot is still wet) or a bacterial enzyme odor eliminator product such as Nature's Miracle. This will neutralize the odor to your nose, but more importantly, to the puppy's much more sensitive nose. If you don't do this properly the scent of past mistakes will signal the dog to come back and use that spot again. When you cannot watch your puppy she needs to be in her safe place where she can't make mistakes, and the crate is an excellent choice for this place. Put the crate in your bedroom at night, and be careful not to let her out of the crate when she is in the act of making noise so she will learn to be quiet in there. If you plan to allow her on the bed, don't do it until she is older. After housetraining many people start leaving their puppies out of the crate and loose in the house, then are horrified at the chewing that starts after the permanent teeth erupt and have to be set in the jaw by the dog chewing. A Bichon is not likely to be a major chewer, but there will probably be some mischief. At this point the crate is still a great safe haven to protect both your things and your dog. Look for a puppy kindergarten class in your area and arrange to take your puppy when she reaches the correct age. This can make a big difference as she matures, and the opportunity for it is over by the age of 6 months. Obedience clubs often have these classes, and you can find these clubs listed by state at www.akc.org. Make sure young children are never allowed to treat your puppy in any way that could cause her to feel pain or fear. Try to look at it from the puppies point of view, and interrupt any such behavior from the kids whether the puppy complains or not. It is common for dogs to tolerate this for a long time, then suddenly defend themselves when they just can't take it any more.
Aisha-I know from my experience that whatever you use to clean up the accident with immediately becomes a new toy. I don't think a puppy would understand, whereas an older dog probably would. Most older dogs know when they do something wrong. I think getting the puppy outside to finish or anytime they potty outside and then praising them is the most important part. Not that I can get my own 8 week old puppies to go outside consistently *$@ !
another insightful topic you have written about. I have been struggling with my 2 schnauzers who are 4 and 5 months. And you are right...it isnt the dogs fault...it is ours if they make a mistake...keep them coming... :o)
Thanks for all that info. My boss just got a 2-month old labrador and is paper training her because he lives in a 29th floor condominium. I told him he should start taking her downstairs as soon as she gets her jabs as labs will wee at least a gallon! I sent him your advice and he is definitely going to follow it! Very much appreciated even all the way here in Singapore.