Updated: Apr 13, 2022
Before training begins, think about where you want your new puppy to potty. The ideal place is usually outdoors, but some people like to use newspapers or a pee pads. Note: Know that if you train your puppy to pee pads, it will be difficult to transition him to outside at a later time.
You need to identify the exact area you want you puppy to use as his potty place. A 3-foot by 3-foot area is sufficient for a Shih Tzu.
Take your puppy out on a leash so you can control where he goes. Start using a cue word or phrase to mean ‘go potty.’ When you take your puppy out, go directly to the correct potty place and give your dog the corresponding command (like “pee-pee” for pee and “potty” for poop). After five minutes, or if he gets distracted, give the command again. Wait... If, after another five minutes, he does not potty, take him back in the house and put him in his crate or room for 15−20 minutes and try again.
Do not allow your puppy access to the whole house until it is consistently pottying outside. Having access to more than one room is a privilege that is earned by pottying correctly. Start by crating your puppy whenever it is in the house and you cannot watch it all the time. When it is out of its crate, use gates across doorways to confine your puppy to a specific area that is easily cleaned such as a bathroom, kitchen, or utility room. Once he does not have any accidents there, expand his domain by one room at a time. Make sure you are in the room to supervise! If he starts to sniff, squat, lift a leg, etc., take him out immediately and give the potty command. Use praise and a treat when the dog potties outside on command.
Consistency is a key to successful housetraining.
Get your puppy on a set schedule.
• When your puppy wakes up, take him to the identified potty place.
• After the puppy eats or drinks anything, take him to the potty place.
• After your puppy plays or exercises, take him to the potty place.
• Withhold water for two to four hours before your puppy goes to bed and just prior to going to bed, take him to the potty place.
Many people train their puppies to use a signal to let them know they need to go potty. You can hang a bell on the door and help your puppy ring the bell with his nose each time you go out or you can make a bark sound or bark command as you go out to indicate to your puppy you want him to bark.
Once your puppy is 4 months or older, he should be able to go 6-8 hours without pottying.
If you have a fenced yard: When your puppy is consistently pottying correctly, you can take the leash and walk your puppy to his potty place (without the leash attached) and give the command. Do this for a couple of weeks. Then try going out and simply giving your puppy the command while you stand on the porch or go part way to the potty place. Finally, you should be able to send the puppy to potty by opening the door and letting him out to do it. Always watch to make sure he does what you ask. If at any point he is not pottying correctly, back up to taking him on the leash to the correct spot and saying the command and waiting.
Do not allow any pottying in the house. Do not scold your puppy and do not rub its nose in it. Take him outside on a leash right away and go to his specific potty place. Try not give the puppy any access to the spot where it has pottied in the house.