How to Potty Train a German Shepherd Puppy

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German Shepherd Puppy that needs to be potty trained

German Shepherds are incredibly intelligent dogs. That’s why you’ll often see these breeds working with law enforcement and performing a slew of other jobs. They have great mental prowess.

With that being said, you still need to potty train young pups.

House training should be the very first thing that you teach your dog. Before anything else, they have to learn the rules of the house and understand their boundaries.

If you don’t adopt training techniques early on, you might end up spending a lot of time cleaning up messes.

House training can be a difficult process for any dog. While they may be smart, training a German Shepherd puppy still requires a lot of patience and dedication.

Here are some tips on how to house train your GSD puppy.

Start Early

You should start the toilet training process as early as possible. It needs to begin the moment you bring your dog home.

Depending on the age of your puppy when you adopt them, they may or may not have been exposed to some training already.

When they’re weaning off of their mother, puppies usually stay in their den at all times. Most don’t even go outside until they are about 6 weeks of age.

They don’t know any better and haven’t learned to differentiate between outside and inside. As a result, you have to be super vigilant about taking your dog outside when they are young.

Don’t give them any opportunities to make a mess inside. Otherwise, they may think that the spot they chose is where they need to go every time.

Choose a Designated Spot

When you take your GSD puppy out for the first time, choose a spot that you want them to potty in. Give them some time to explore that part of your yard.

Just make sure that they do their business in this spot each and every time they go out.

This all has to do with conditioning and routine. Bringing them out to the same spot every time is crucial.

It creates a connection between the spot and the need to go. Plus, it teaches your pup that they are not allowed to go just anywhere. They have to go in your designated spot.

Limit Their Access to the Home

showing a german shepherd puppy the house

Giving your pup free reign over the house is not a good idea. For one, they’re unfamiliar with your home. They don’t have a good understanding of what’s off-limits and what’s not.

So, they may end up thinking that it’s perfectly fine to do their business on that plush carpet in the living room.

You can show your puppy around the home, but you need to supervise them at all times.

If they aren’t having accidents in the home and are doing well with house training, you can slowly open up the areas they can access.

Don’t do too much at one time. Take things slow and keep a watchful eye.

Use a Crate

Crates are a great tool that you can use to your advantage as you house train. You see, dogs don’t like to make messes in the same spot that they sleep.

Of course, accidents can happen. But, for the most part, even young puppies will hold it in as long as they can to avoid soiling their comfortable bed.

The crate should be in an easily accessible place.

They should sleep in it at night. Don’t use it for punishment. The crate needs to be your pup’s safe space. Locking them in there as a form of punishment will only create negative feelings toward it.

Use Verbal Commands

While dogs will go when they need to, you can use a verbal command to help get things moving. When your puppy goes outside, repeat a simple command like “Potty.”

After they’ve done the deed, say it again to teach them what the command means.

Adopting a potty command can be very beneficial later on in your dog’s life. There’s going to be a time when you’re away from home or in bad weather.

Saying that command in those situations will tell your dog that it’s safe to do what they need to do.

Stay Relaxed

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing progress when you house train. While you might have an overwhelming urge to run up to your GSD puppy when they do the deed outside,

it’s best to refrain. You could end up surprising your dog in the middle of their business.

Not only that, but you could be confusing your dog or making them nervous. This will only make things harder for them. Just stay calm and celebrate internally.

Stick to a Routine

As you toilet train, sticking to a routine can make all the difference.

Dogs thrive when they know exactly what they should be doing. Following the same motions every time makes it easier for them to get the hang of things.

Your routine can involve many different things. You should take your dog out of the house through the same door and take them to your designated spot.

As you wait, stand or sit in the same position. The familiarity can help your pup tremendously.

Follow a Schedule

Like following a routine, you should stick to a schedule. Again, it all comes down to familiarity.

The worse thing you can do for your pup is to take them out sporadically. Obviously, if they need to go at odd hours you should let them out.

However, beyond those instances, try to take them out at the same time every day.

When they first wake up, take your pup out immediately. Then, take them out every hour. Most GSD puppies up to 16 weeks of age can hold their bladder for two hours.

After 16 weeks, they should be able to hold it in for 4 hours. Use this knowledge to your advantage and create a schedule that’s easy to follow.

The same goes for feeding. By planning your pup’s day out, there’s no second-guessing. They can’t tell time, but dogs are pretty good at knowing when their usual outings are coming up.

Practice Proper Timing

As long as you stick to a good diet of high-quality puppy food, you should be able to plan for your pup’s poop time. Their digestive tract is pretty regular at a young age.

Most will need to defecate between 10 and 30 minutes after eating.

Keep an eye on the clock and bring them out when the time comes. If you get the timing right, your dog will do their business right on cue.

This eliminates any wasted time outside and further cement the schedule they have gotten accustomed to.

Related: Top 7 Best Indoor Dog Potty Systems

Understand Your Pup’s Body Language

No matter how strict your house training schedule is, there will be times when your dog just needs to go.

Your puppy’s needs won’t always stay constant, so you must keep an eye on them and learn to read their body language.

Oftentimes, a GSD puppy will start circling around the room when they need to relieve themselves. If you’ve established a routine with a specific door, they might sit in front of it and look at you.

You might even hear some barks or whimpers. Learn to identify these signs and let your dog out to avoid accidents.

Use Positive Reinforcement Techniques

Positive reinforcement is key with any type of training. As you toilet train, it can mean the difference between constant accidents and success.

Dogs do best when you shower them with praise and rewards. So, give your puppy a treat when they do a good job.

Make sure that you reward them regularly. Your puppy will come to expect a treat after they go outside. They’ve done their part, so don’t disappoint them!

Rewards can also include attention and verbal praise. Just do something that makes your GSD puppy happy.

Don’t Hit or Yell

German shepherd pup

Hitting or yelling at your dog is never conducive to the house training process.

You need to keep your cool and use other techniques to tell your puppy that they did something wrong.

If you walk into the room and see your pooch popping a squat, use your voice to stop them.

Call out to them in a stern voice and say, “No!” This is more than enough to get the message across. There’s no need to yell or get physical.

If you do, your dog will become fearful of you. Training is only successful if your puppy has trust in you. Doing something to break that trust will only set you back.

Related ; Female vs. Male German Shepherd Traits

Be Consistent

Our last tip is to be consistent! Every dog is different. For some pups, potty training only takes a few weeks.

For others, it can take months. Just be patient and stick with your training plan.

Even after your puppy has gotten the hang of things, employ the same techniques throughout their life. Accidents will happen, even into adulthood.

Being consistent will reduce the chances of an accident from occurring. Plus, it will set your dog up for success and make other forms of training much easier.


Potty training your GSD puppy doesn’t have to be difficult. The key to success is to develop a plan ahead of time that’s easy to manage and follow.

Support your young pup every step of the way. Before you know it, going outside to get relief will become second-nature

Also Read: Top 7 Best Puppy Foods for German Shepherds

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