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We want training to be fun and engaging for both the handler and the dog. Why? Because then both enjoy the training and a bond is created. It becomes their special time.
Now, think about this. You are told to do your work tasks but after they are completed you get nothing. Not a thank you, not a paycheck, nothing. No acknowledgement at all. How would you feel? Would you want to learn new tasks? Would you want to go to work the next day?
This is why we use paychecks, or rewards, when teaching new behaviors to our dogs. Higher value initially and then phasing those out to utilize more life rewards. When teaching sit they get a treat or toy, whatever they will work for. Once they are sitting routinely on cue we phase those out and use praise, petting, letting them snuggle, their dinner, going outside. They still get a “paycheck” but it is based on life rather than treats.
This doesn’t mean treats should not be used anymore. We all like that bonus the boss gives us for doing our job well, so do dogs. Spend some time doing a little training refresher, bring out the every day treats (or even kibble) and alternate between praise and treats. This helps keep it fresh in their minds and they really do enjoy your attention. It means more to them than the treats do, believe me.
Be sure to end every session with something fun. Big praise and petting, a little time with a toy or ball, a romp outside. This helps cement the training, helping to retain it. It also helps cement your bond, making him want to do and learn more.
Potty training? Remember the rule of thumb. 1 hour for 1 month of age.
I like to set a timer so that I remember to take them out regularly in case I get busy with other things and might forget. Limit where the dog can go during these early days of potty training.
Watch for sniffing, circling or hiding. If you have an accident do NOT rub the dogs nose in it or punish. This will encourage the dog to hide and fear you as they will most likely connect potty to punishment rather than potty to "I should do this outside" and it will delay your goal.
Hang a bell near or on the door leading outside. Every time you take the dog outside ring the bell. Soon the dog will ring the bell to let you know it needs to go outside.
I prefer to leash in the beginning. This way you can take the dog out, keep an eye on what is happening and reward with big praise and petting immediately upon success. And having a dog that will readily do their business on a leash is good if you have to travel with them.
If he doesn't go within a few minutes take the puppy back inside, but keep the leash on so they can't go far. Take them back out after a few minutes and try again. Repeat until you have success.
Give it a cue. At our house it's "business". If I am in a hurry I can tell the dogs to "do business" and they do it quickly without getting distracted by play.
Note: I am not a fan of pee pads. These can teach the dog that it is ok to go inside and make it that much harder to transition to outside.