There are not too many things, in my experience, quite as exciting as bringing home a new dog. Everyone in the house is ready for the new puppy and you can't wait to get him home. However, you need to do a little preparation before you bring him inside. The sooner you start on your housebreaking routine the sooner your new dog will learn the ropes. If you use the proper methods and keep a positive attitude it will be over before you know it!
First things first. As soon as you bring you new puppy home take him outside. It may be an exciting time for you, but it is definitely the most excitement your dog has ever been through. For that reason he will be needing to go pretty badly, especially after that car ride. If he pees in the house the first time, he is more likely to continue doing it making your house training much more difficult. This is the perfect time to start your puppy's training and set the tone for the future.
As far as housebreaking is concerned it is widely held that crate training is the fastest, most effective way to train your dog. Right now I know some people are thinking "What is crate training?" Basically crate training is using a dog crate to confine your puppy in when you are not watching him. Since dogs will naturally avoid going to the bathroom where they sleep you will ensure that he will hold it for as long as possible while inside the crate. Make sure the crate is not too big or he'll pee in one end and sleep in the other! Depending on your breed of dog you may need to replace the crate once your dog outgrows it.
So, how do you use the crate to housebreak the dog? It goes like this. The dog will be confined to his crate unless he's outside with you, eating or if he is being played with or otherwise supervised. It is important to be consistent and not let your puppy have free run of the house until he is fully housebroken. If he is unsupervised he will most likely relieve himself. The more often this happens the more comfortable he will feel doing it and the harder it will be for you to get him to stop.
Your goal is to create a schedule that the dog can follow for using the bathroom. When you first wake up you need to take the puppy outside. After you feed him you've got to take him out again. I know it sounds like overkill, but puppies go a lot. Play with him for a while and put him back in the crate. Someone will need to take him out again around lunchtime, and then back in the crate. In the evening when you get home from work you need to take him out again. You should try to spend a lot of time actively supervising your puppy and playing with him whenever you have time. Any other time put him in the crate.
Crate training should take between one and two months, depending on the breed of your dog, and of course your skill and attention to training him. The more your puppy displays that he is learning not to go potty in the house the more often he can be out of the crate. Don't get ahead of yourself though....
At first your puppy will probably resist being put into the little confined space of the crate. A lot of owners are put off by this. However, in my experience, dogs very quickly begin to look at the crate as their own space, or their bedroom, and will use it as a place to relax or take a nap.
Placement of the crate is an important, and often overlooked, piece of the equation. Putting the crate in an out of the way space may seem like the right thing to do, but it is not. It is a good idea to put it in a room where your family spends a majority of their time. You want your puppy to feel like he is in the mix of things, or he may begin to feel left out or isolated.
Last, but certainly not least, you should make the crate a comfortable, inviting place, where your puppy will be happy spending his time. You may be able to find a pillow that fits well in the crate, or maybe use some thick blankets to pad the bottom of the crate. Don't forget to throw in a few toys for him to play with.
Remember that your puppy has a very small bladder and will need to go outside often. The more often you take him outside the faster he will learn, and the happier he will be in his crate(since he won't have to go to the bathroom all the time). It is ideal to take your new puppy out every two hours or so. Try not to leave your puppy in the crate for much longer in hours than he is months old. Any more than an hour over this standard is too long a time.
To learn how to deal with more complicated problems that you can't seem to fix using these methods please read my two part article on Dealing With Common House Training Problems. Part one deals with the issue of Excited/Submissive Urination Urination. Part Two deals with Scent Marking