Poodle puppies for puppy people!®
Puppies can begin to be house trained when they are about 5 weeks old, but don't expect miracles - it will take nearly a year for any dog to really 'get it.'
First of all, it cannot be overstated: Do Not Use Physical Punishment With Your Puppy, EVER. Poodles are smart and they love their owners and want to please them. If they do something wrong, a stern voice and affect will be enough to let them know they did wrong. Never Ever EVER hit your puppy with your hand or with anything. Cesar Milan never hits his dogs to get them to act right, and they come to him with huge behaviour problems!
In the beginning, the mommy keeps everyone clean. As she eases off this part of her role the puppies now know not to go in the den. As they start to eat solid food, the mom stops cleaning them. The human/puppy house training process begins when the puppies actually notice they are peeing. I put puppy pads out a little ways from their den, and encourage them to go there by leaving the papers down for a few days. The pads get smelly, which reinforces this is the right place to go by odour. When the puppies smell it, if they need to go this can stimulate them to pee right there on the pads. They start to associate the pads with peeing.
It's also a good idea if you see them waking up to move them to the pad area right away and keep them there until they pee. Don't hold or touch them, that will make the puppy think you are playing, but just redirect them into the area if they start to leave.
Number 2 is harder (no pun intended). The puppies normally pick a place to go that is out of the way, when I find this area, I put pads down right there. The good thing about #2 is it takes a few minutes so if you notice your puppy getting ready (circling, crouching down...) you can put them where you want them to go. Again though - handling the pups makes them want to play and they may forget what they were doing, so move them and leave them alone.
None of this keeps the puppies from freely doing their business wherever for the first few weeks. The point is to start them off with a regular place to go. At this stage, praise or food rewards do not help - everything is too exiting and they don't get the association until they are a little older.
When you get your puppy home, the best and quickest but possibly hardest way I have found to house train a puppy is to take he or she outside on a leash to where you want them to go every hour on the hour, walk them back and forth repeating your personal elimination code word ("hurry up" is frequently chosen) and praising excessively when they do. At night this means waking up frequently - you don't have to wake up every hour, but plan to take the pup out three times betweem 9pm and morning, and to take them out first thing in the morning. If you can't take the puppy out the very first thing, hold him or her until you can - they won't pee or poop on you - but do be quick about it - their bowels are small, active and less able to hold it for long!
Some of our RedTeddy puppy owners have had success using the bell system. Their puppy rings a bell on the door when she needs to go out. Try bringing the bell with you at the beginning of training, and using it to stimulate the puppy into doing his/her business. Don't forget to go over the top with praise when they do it 'right,' and not to punsh when they do it 'wrong.' Any pain inflicted on the puppy now will only confuse them about your intentions, and make the whole process harder, meaner and less humane.