The first thing to understand about housebreaking a puppy is that different steps and procedures will be required depending on its age. While most puppies are walking and looking around by the end of their first couple of weeks of life, they likely will not ready for true housebreaking at that point. Rather, housebreaking a puppy depends on the physical and mental maturity of a dog. Further, be forewarned that it will take patience to train a dog. This is especially true when the task is to train a puppy.
Understand the physical limitations of a puppy. Housebreaking a puppy before it reaches 12 weeks old will likely be an impossible task. The muscles that regulate urine and feces excretion have not been developed enough to give the animal full control over what it is doing. Attempting to put the puppy on a bathroom schedule at this point will likely end in frustration for both you and the dog. Therefore, instead of focusing on what you cannot do, take a look at what can be done.
Second, the role of instinct when housebreaking a puppy should not be underestimated. Though many may swear it is not the case, most puppies prefer to be clean, especially when it comes to excretory activities. They prefer to go to a place that is used for the purpose. So try paper training the dog. This involves, after feedings and waterings, putting the dog on paper and allowing it to go. The paper should be layered, so the top layers can be taken and thrown away. However, the bottom layers will retain the scent, thus giving the puppy a clue as to where his future duties should be done. This will reinforce the idea in the puppy's mind that there are appropriate places and inappropriate places to go.
Third, once the dog is 12 weeks old, begin kennel training it. This involves placing the dog into a crate and allowing it out only when directly being supervised. Each time the dog is taken out, immediately take it outside so that it gets the idea. If older dogs are present, take them out as well so the puppy can learn what is expected. While some consider kennel training cruel, dogs prefer to have a secure, enclosed place. Just make sure it is not left in the kennel all day.
Fourth, after a dog has been kennel trained, housebreaking a puppy becomes the last step. House training involves allowing the dog to stay in the house without direct supervision at all times. If the dog is ever caught in the act inside, immediately scold the dog and take it outside to finish. When it goes outside, give it plenty of praise.
Fifth, realize the process needed to house train any animal is going to have some setbacks. Make sure, when training begins, to do so in a place where messes can easily be cleaned up. Hardwood and tile floors are better than carpet for obvious reasons. While it may become frustrating, never take these frustrations out on the dog.