First one must understand that two things have usually occurred with housetraining problems. One - a dog was taught to papers and never understood that it was not OK to go in the house. Two - housetraining was never done properly, so stress and anxiety has resulted. Understand that both those issues result in anxiety in a home that would like a dog to eliminate outside. Elimination itself can relieve anxiety, so understand that the more anxious a home is about housetraining the more a dog may feel the need to eliminate and more accidents may occur. Let me give an example..........you need to give a speech and you use the toilet just before leaving. The hall is only five minutes away, yet as soon as you get there you need to use the toilet again!! Why? Anxiety. So, understand that until everyone is feeling a little better about the situation any accidents may be more the result of anxiety than anything else. Using corrections, like rubbing their nose in it, physical punishment, yelling, whatever, will only add to the stress and can cause even more problems, so resist the urge to punish an accident. For some reason it is hard for us humans not to punish, so do what you need to do to control that urge. It will not help this situation, I promise!
I need to stress that punishment only works if a dog is caught while in the process of eliminating. Any time, and I mean even seconds later, and the dog does not associate the punishment with the act itself. Timing is critical if you do use punishment. If you punish a dog after the accident has occurred the dog will look guilty and ashamed (and very often afraid of you!), but it will only understand that it is being punished in the vicinity of the accident, not that the ACT ITSELF was wrong. Your goal is to stop the act itself, not make a dog feel bad for being NEAR the spot, right? That will cause more anxiety and set you back in your re-training. I have made all these same mistakes and learned the hard way about this. DO NOT punish unless you do so while the dog is in the act. This is a very important part of re-training and hard for most people to understand. Resist the urge to punish!
Now for re-training there are two simple answers:
To reward the dog outside be sure you are ready EVERY SINGLE time with a yummy, special treat. I like to use a treat that the dog would not get any other time. STEAK!! Seriously, find something really, really special so that the dog is HIGHLY rewarded for eliminating outside. I like non-fat smoked turkey hot dogs. They smell great, dogs love them and they are non-fat. I cut up several hot dogs into small bits and keep them in a baggie in the fridge. Every SINGLE time the dog eliminates outside it needs to be told how brilliant it is, pared with a command like "go potty" or "go quick", or whatever you want to say, and a treat given immediately after it eliminates. Tell that dog that eliminating outside is the best thing EVER and make it really, really rewarding for doing so. If you go on walks, bring those special treats with you so you can do reward every single elimination. While the dog is eliminating repeat your command words, then give the treat. If you do not reward every elimination, scold yourself for being a bad trainer. Seriously, if you let one single elimination go unrewarded then you only have yourself to blame for not getting this done faster!! :D You cannot just open the door and let the dog out hoping it will go on it's own. You need to be there, watching so you can reward it for doing the right thing!!! Do not be a lazy human here. It is your job to be sure the dog knows it was good for eliminating outside.
Managing the dog inside is important so that you can watch the dog and prevent it from eliminating. Use baby gates to keep a dog in the area where you are so it cannot sneak off where you cannot watch it. Use a crate or keep the dog in the kitchen when you are not there so it has a smaller area and does not practice eliminating in other areas of the house. Remember that you may have an accident while you are gone, but do NOT get angry or show disappointment. When you are not there the dog may have been stressed and needed to go. Try to make the times when you are not home very comforting and be sure the dog eliminates before you leave, if possible. Use Kongs stuffed with something yummy like a tiny bit of peanut butter and plain yogurt or rice Krispies and give that when you leave. Warm up a blanket in the dryer and give that to the dog when you leave to make it really comfortable, trying to make you leaving not such a bad thing. If there is anxiety going on even some adult dogs will not make it through the night. Understand that and get up to take your dog out, if needed. Remembering say your command word and reward with that treat if the dog eliminates outside!!
Some other tips: