How To Potty Train Your German Shepherd

If you are reading this article you are a proud owner of a German Shepherd, and let us be the first to congratulate you on your new beautiful family member. This breed possesses the grace, intelligence, and athleticism, and it’s no wonder they’ve are bred and trained for military and police operations since World War I.

Most likely, you’re not interested in training your German Shepherd puppy for that kind of work. You simply want a well-behaved dog that’s obedient and loyal to you.

The first thing you will want to do is house train your puppy.

Learning how to you potty train a German Shepherd puppy does not have to be stressful or worrisome, but it does take time and persistence.

When bringing your puppy home the first house rule your pup should learn is not to poop or pee in the house. If you do it right you’ll see it’s easier than you think.

We have had the pleasure of potty training many German Shepherd pups, and we are going to share our techniques and tips with you…

The key is to teach your puppy that eliminating inside is out of bounds. If you don’t do this, you’ll have a half-trained dog that will eliminate inside when it’s convenient.

Here are 13 tips to successfully potty train your German Shepherd

#1 Nature

When pups are born they eat, poop, and pee in the den. Thanks to mom the den is never smelly or unhygienic. Part of mom’s job is to clean up the mess.

The benefit of this is conditioning to keep clean living quarters has already begun.

One downside of owners taking pups at 6 to 8 weeks is they never learn from mom to do their business outside. But here at K9Phenom when puppies are able to wonder off we let them outside to use the bathroom and to get much needed puppy playtime. So when our puppies are ready to go to their forever homes they will be used to going outside for potty time. It’s up to you to teach your new German Shepherd puppy where the appropriate to relieve themselves.

#2 Conditioning

Dogs are context-bound. This means once they learn a habit they’ll keep doing it.

For example: if a puppy learns to poop and pee on the grass instead of your paved driveway it will always go on the grass.

#3 Reliable digestive tract

Your German Shepherd’s tummy is well-oiled and efficient.


Anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes after eating your pup will want to go to the bathroom.

All you have to do is feed at regular times and clock-watch.

#4 Reliable bladder

Around 20 days your puppy is able to control their bodily functions. In other words, Your pup will eliminate when necessary.

At 8 to 16 weeks your pup will be able to hold it’s pee for at least 4 hours.

From 6 months it can hold its pee up to 4 hours.

#5 Your attitude

Using only positive methods and never punishment.

How you potty train your puppy is influenced by your attitude in a BIG way.

Attitude will influence how long it takes and how successful the training will be. Puppies and adult dogs take a lot of cues from your voice and body language.

Rushing your puppy or distracting it with your voice could make it nervous and prevent it from doing it’s business.

Stay relaxed and avoid verbal encouragement

#6 Routine

Your German Shepherd puppy will need to go potty first thing in the morning, after eating, when waking up from a nap, and usually after playing.

Set a routine according to these needs.

#7 Rewarding correct behavior

Rewarding your puppy each time it gets it right will encourage it to keep doing the right thing. You can reward it with a treat or affection. This depends on which your pup wants more of. We like to use a mixture to avoid our dogs from becoming too attached to treats.

#8 Positive reinforcement

if your puppy has an accident inside don’t punish it.

No raised voice or shouting. Punishment will cause negative feelings about natural body functions. It might even find sneaky places inside to use as a toilet, which you will want to avoid at all cost. If you catch your pup in the act the trick is to interrupt the flow by saying “outside” or any word you like. Just remember to be consistent.

Then pick up your puppy and it it to where you want it to go.

#9 Pee pads or paper towels are NOT helpful

Although you can easily teach your German shepherd puppy to use pee pads or paper, but it only complicate the potty training.

You are probably asking yourself “Why is that?”

The fact is because at some point they will need to be transitioned from pee pads or paper to outside.

So you are just adding an extra step to potty training. This can cause a lot of confusion and potty training accidents.

Go for gold and get your pup conditioned to using the bathroom outside.

#10 Make peace with lack of sleep (for awhile)

Just like having a new born baby you will need to sacrifice some sleep for a while. We can’t expect our pups to “keep it in” for longer than they can.

If accidents do happen over night, you should take your puppy out more often.

Accidents will happen, but the more your pup has an accident in her personal space, the more comfortable it will become to do it. You really want to avoid this

#11 Access to new spaces

Access to new spaces depends on whether your pup is performing well with potty training.

If accidents around the house, and allowing you pup more access is setting you and your pup up for failure.

In general, with training, if a puppy makes a mistake it’s an opportunity to learn.

But with potty training, you really want to avoid giving your puppy the opportunity to eliminate inside.

#12 Common mistakes you should avoid

There are common mistakes that could make potty training puppy go less smoothly than you intend.

Watch out for these things….

  • Feeding your pup too many different foods on a giving day
  • Over feeding or allowing free feeding and watering
  • Feeding too close to bedtime
  • Feeding too close to bedtime
  • Feeding salty foods like processed meats
  • Feeding too many treats in one go
  • Expecting your puppy to know instinctively how to let you know it needs to go
  • Leaving your pup alone for too long, which will force it to eliminate inside
  • Not teaching your pup a specific cue so it will understand it’s here to take care of business
  • Allowing access to lovely, for absorbent rugs- which are very comfortable to pee on
  • Not being around one your pup does eliminate outside. You are responsible for teaching it that you like what it just did. You must be there to reward your puppy

#13 How to get your puppy to potty in the winter

Winter months can put a major strain on potty runs. When temps dip below freezing, you might need to be more insistent when taking your pooch out to do their business.

And when it’s cold out, who can blame them for holding their pee for longer than they should or declining invitations to go for a potty run. The problem is that the longer your pup holds their pee, the more chance there is for bacteria to build-up.

And when your dog’s immune system can no longer fight the bacteria, a UTI can set in. And that can be another vet bill you don’t want to pay.

But with some careful planning, there are a few handy things you an implement to avoid a UTI encourage potty runs, and make the experience more comfortable for your best friend.

Keep any eye on water consumption, like humans dogs may become reluctant to drink water when it’s cold. This can lead to the dreaded UTI. So if you notice the level of your dog’s water bowl has not dropped it’s time to step in. To encourage drinking, try these tricks; heat the water to slightly above room temperature, add a dash of broth like chicken or bone, or a add something sweet like raw organically honey.

Feed a moisture-rich food, this can be anything from canned food to adding more raw food to their diet, or a home-cooked meal and even soaking their kibble in a broth like bone or chicken.

Create a covered potty area, this will protect your pups paws from the cold. And you can do this inexpensively with straw or wood shavings.

Keep yourself warm, If you’re not warm enough outside, chances are you’ll feel rushed and your pup will pick up on it, This can lead to them feeling rushed and either not relieving themselves, or only doing it half way. So make sure you’re warm and sung when it’s time for a potty run.

Jackpot rewards, We like to show our dogs how pleased we are when they nail their potty run in the bitter cold by offering them a bunch of high-value treats.

Potty training should not be stressful, it is a time of bonding. Your puppy is learning house rules to ensure the happy co-existence of you and your pup for a long time to come.

Your puppy is also learning to trust you, and important foundation for further training.


Work with nature and build on conditioning your puppy has already begun to learn form mom

Be consistent and rely on your pups natural context-bound nature. Teach your pup where the toilet is, Your pup will learn fast and make a connection.

Rely on your pup’s digestive tract and bladder by setting a routine.

Reward your pup when they get it right, This will encourage them to do it again and again.

Mistakes is a learning opportunity for you best friend. So stay positive and relaxed.

and soon your best will be completely house trained. We hope you enjoy your new family member.