Bringing home a German Shepherd puppy is exciting! These dogs are among the smartest dogs on the planet, ranking third overall in obedience and work intelligence, but they still need your training and guidance to be well-behaved and house-trained, which is where potty training comes in. Even though they are smart, they still need to learn acceptable potty behaviors, but how do you potty train a German Shepherd puppy?
In this guide, we’ll list seven tips and tricks to set your German Shepherd puppy on his way to being housebroken. Let’s begin!
A Step-By-Step Guide for Potty Training Your German Shepherd Puppy
Before You Start
Keep in mind that consistency is key in potty training. You should also use positive reinforcement while potty training your German Shepherd and any other training you engage in. Never yell or hit your dog when he makes accidents (which will happen)—the key is to keep the environment calm and redirect the unwanted behavior.
You’ll need to buy an appropriately-sized crate before you start the potty training process. A dog crate is an effective tool in potty training, and it gives your pup a safe place to retreat if he feels stressed or tired. Never use the crate as punishment; your pup should always feel safe in his crate.
Without further ado, let’s get to the tips and tricks of how to potty train your German Shepherd.
1. Choose a Potty Area
German Shepherds are creatures of habit, like most dogs, and having a designated spot for your puppy to poop and pee is ideal. The area should be easy to access and a place you can keep clean.
Tip: Remember that consistency is key in any dog training method, and always bringing or guiding your pup to the same spot each time will only reinforce what is expected of him. Be sure to praise him when he goes potty.
2. Establish a Schedule
Remember discussing how much your puppy should be taken out each day? This is why establishing a schedule is a must. While in the 8–12-week range, take your puppy out every hour to the same designed spot. As your puppy grows, you can slowly add one hour at a time; for example, your German Shepherd puppy should be able to hold his bladder for 4 hours at 3-months of age. Continue to increase until your puppy can hold his bladder for up to 8 hours.
Tip: German Shepherds thrive on routine, so try your best to stick to a routine each day.
3. Determine a Potty Command
You’ll need to come up with a word or phrase to consistently use each time you take your German Shepherd puppy out to potty. Some people choose something like “Do your business” or “Go potty.” Whatever you choose, be sure to stick with the same command each and every time and use the command when you approach the designated potty area. Over time, you’ll learn to recognize right before your puppy needs to poop, and you should take this opportunity to repeat the command to reinforce the acceptable behavior.
Tip: Once he goes potty, give tons of praise! You can even say “good boy” or “good girl” afterward and be excited for your pup! Your intelligent German Shepherd puppy will understand he did something right and will strive for praise. You should also refrain from talking so you don’t distract your puppy; only talk when using the potty command.
4. Stick to a Feeding Schedule
Establishing a mealtime will not only teach your puppy a routine but will also help you predict when he’ll need to go potty. Try to avoid free-feeding, which means your puppy has access to food 24/7. This will only cause inconsistency with potty training.
Tip: You should feed your puppy three times a day while he’s less than 6 months old. After that timeframe, you can feed your German Shepherd once in the morning and once in the evening.
5. Always Use Positive Reinforcement
We cannot emphasize this enough—always use positive reinforcement while training your puppy. If you yell or react negatively when he makes accidents, he’ll only become afraid of you and will likely develop anxiety later in life. Instead, provide praise, treats, or even a favorite toy when he successfully goes potty.
Tip: When your German Shepherd puppy has an accident (and it will happen), be sure to clean the area thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner to deter your puppy from going in the same spot again.
6. Try and Avoid Using Potty Pads
Using potty pads may seem like a great idea, but in actuality, they can confuse your puppy about where to go potty. Potty pads can make your puppy feel it’s okay to potty inside the home, which is what you don’t want.
Tip: While you should avoid potty pads if you want to successfully potty train your German Shepherd puppy, there are times when it may be necessary. If you live in a high-rise condo or have mobility issues, for example.
7. Be Consistent
The key to successful potty training is consistency. You can’t expect your German Shepherd puppy to learn what is acceptable behavior and what is not if you’re not consistent—this is why it’s crucial to stick to a potty and feeding schedule to get your puppy nestled into a routine.
Tip: Once your puppy becomes acclimated, there will be times he may have to go potty apart from the routine. In this case, you should learn and observe your puppy’s behavior, as he’ll probably whine or may even paw at the door if he needs to go out. Don’t forget to praise him when he does!
We hope our tips and tricks on how to potty train your German Shepherd helps you in successfully potty training your intelligent pup! German Shepherds are one of the smartest dogs in the world, and with consistency and positive reinforcement, your puppy will be well on his way to being potty trained. We wish you much success and many happy years with your new German Shepherd!
Featured Image Credit: Alexander Naglestad, Unsplash