Housebreaking has a clear and definite goal. You want your dog to relieve itself in a defined area, not all over your house. The number one rule to achieving successful housebreaking is to praise your dog exactly when it is urinating or defecating where you want it to. If you offer praise before or after the act you will only confuse the dog.
A dog that is going to live in your home needs to be taught where to relieve itself. This can be a difficult task if you've never done it before or even if you have. You need method and the determination and commitment to succeed at the chore of having a properly housetrained dog.
The first thing you need to determine even before you bring your new dog home is just where is its "potty" going to be. If you live in an apartment or are going to leave your dog in the house during the day while you are at work you might consider using a litter box if it is a small dog. This method might even work for a large dog, but the litter box might be too large for a small apartment or house. Also, larger dogs seem to have better bladder and bowel control than smaller ones.
Dogs don't like splash back which is why they will go on a rug or carpet rather than a bare floor made of wood or tile. The litter provides an area that doesn't splash which makes it more likely your dog will use it rather than the carpet.
The first thing though is to have a plan where the dog will learn just exactly where it is expected to relieve itself. This is best accomplished by crate training, that is, teaching your dog that a crate is its den. Dogs will not befoul their den unless very young, very old or very ill. The puppy's mother will have begun teaching it to relieve itself outside the den area. All you have to do is keep up this training and expand it.
Once you know where you want your dog to go and have the crate set up, making sure the crate is neither too large or too small for your dog, you can bring your new puppy home.
It needs to be on a tight schedule for the first week or so. The length of time depends on the age, breed, and size of your puppy. Incidentally, unless it is absolutely necessary, no puppy should be removed from it mother earlier than seven weeks of age. Older is better. Regardless of any of these factors you probably should use a two hour schedule the first day.
When you bring your puppy home remember it will be stressed. Show it where its "potty" is by placing it there. If it uses it fine, if not also fine. Then put the puppy in its den (crate) that has a cozy blanket and some device that mimics its mother's heart beat. Yes, your puppy will probably fuss, but put in ear plugs or whatever you need to do and leave it there for an hour or two. The baby has had a stressful time leaving mom and sibs, as well as the car ride home. Whether it agrees or not it needs to rest.
After a couple of hours open the crate, pick up your puppy and take it straight to the potty area. Stay there until it relieves itself. Do not forget to praise it as it is actually doing the deed. Once that is accomplished take your puppy back inside and offer it food and water. After that a short play time will be in order.
A Lazy Trainer tip, at the time you normally sleep skip the play time. You do not want your dog growing up thinking it is alright to have a romp during your sleep time. After the first day you can begin to extend the schedule even with a small dog breed puppy. By the end of the second week your puppy should be on a three hour schedule with a fairly longer one during your sleep period.
By the time a puppy is three months old it should be able to wait up to four hours between trips to the potty, though if it is well trained to a litter box this should not be a problem.
Remember the most critical thing to housebreaking any puppy or dog is to remember to praise it exactly when it is urinating or defecating, because then it knows exactly what it is being rewarded for.