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How to Potty Train a German Shepherd Puppy: 13 Tips to Do it Right

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

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

I’ve had the pleasure of potty training many German Shepherd pups. Today I’d like to share my 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.

Learn exactly how to do this! Get your hands on my Flawless Potty Training Guide. Just click the purple button below.

8 Tips 13 Tips on How to Potty Train a German Shepherd Puppy

As luck would have it, you have some awesome benefits working in your favor…

13 Tips to Successful Potty Training

#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 or 8 weeks is they never learn from mom to ‘do their business outside’.

But it’s not a train smash, it’s just up to you to teach your new German Shepherd puppy where the appropriate place is to relieve herself.

#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 she’ll always go on the grass.

#3. Reliable Digestive Tract

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

This is great news for you!

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

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

#4. Reliable Bladder

At approximately 20 days your German Shepherd puppy is able to control her bodily functions. In other words, she’ll eliminate when necessary.

At 8 to 16 weeks your pup can only hold her pee for approximately 2 hours. Take her out every hour to be safe.

By the time your pup is 16 weeks, she’ll be able to hold her pee for at least 4 hours.

From 6 months she’ll hold her pee for up to 4 hours.

Get Access to My Daily Schedule and I’ll show you how to potty train a German Shepherd puppy quickly and successfully.

Using only positive methods and never punishment.

#5. Your Attitude

How to potty train a German Shepherd 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 our voice and body language.

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

Stay relaxed and avoid verbal encouragement.

Check out this ultimate guide on How do you crate train a German Shepherd?

#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 and she’ll learn the process in no time.

#7. Rewarding Correct Behavior

Rewarding your puppy each time she gets it right will encourage her to keep doing the right thing.

You can reward with a treat or affection. This depends on which your pup wants more of.

I use a mixture to avoid my pup from becoming too attached to treats.

#8. Positive Reinforcement

If your puppy has an accident inside don’t punish her.

So no raised voice or shouting. Punishment will cause negative feelings about natural body functions.

She might even find sneaky places inside to use as her toilet, which you want to avoid at all costs.

  • If you catch her in the act the trick is to interrupt her ‘flow’ by saying the word ‘outside’ (or any word you like). Just be consistent.
  • Then pick her up and take her to where you want her to go.

#9. Pee Pads or Paper are NOT helpful

Although you can easily teach your German Shepherd puppy to use pee pads or paper, it only complicates potty training.


Well, because at some point they will need to be transitioned from pee pads or paper to outside.

So essentially you’re adding an extra step to potty training. This can cause confusion and potty training accidents.

Rather go for gold and get your pup conditioned to using their toilet outside!

#10. Make Peace with Lack of Sleep (for a while)

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 are happening at night, you should take your pup out more often.

Accidents will happen, but the more your pup has potty accidents in her personal space, the more comfortable she’ll become doing it. You really want to avoid this at all costs.

Does your puppy need a comfy, new bed? Check out the best dog beds for German Shepherds.

#11. Access to New Spaces

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

If she’s having accidents around the house, allowing her more access is setting her and yourself up for failure.

If you want to learn how I manage this without isolating my pup, get your hands on my Flawless Potty Training Guide.

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.

You can find out exactly how to do this inside The Flawless Potty Training Guide.

#12. Common Mistakes You Should Avoid

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

Watch out for these little things…

  1. Feeding your pup too many different foods on a given day.
  2. Overfeeding or allowing free feeding and watering.
  3. Feeding too close to bedtime.
  4. Feeding salty foods like processed meats.
  5. Feeding too many treats in one go.
  6. Expecting your GSD pup to know instinctively how to let you know she needs to go on a potty run.
  7. Leaving your pup alone for too long, which will force her to eliminate inside.
  8. Not teaching your puppy a specific cue so she’ll understand she’s here to take care of ‘business’ not for play.
  9. Allowing access to lovely, soft absorbent rugs – which are very comfortable to pee on.
  10. Not being around when your pup does eliminate outside. You are responsible for teaching her that you like what she just did. You must be there to reward her.
  11. Not cleaning accidents with appropriate cleaners like Icky Poo.

#13. How to Get Your GSD to Potty in 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 bitterly cold out, who can blame them for holding their pee for longer than they should? Or for declining invitations to go for a potty run?

The problem is that the longer your pooch holds their pee, the more chance there is for bacteria build-up.

And when your dog’s immune system can no longer fight the bacteria, a UTI can set in.

Some vets have noted an increase in Urinary Tract Infections during the icy-cold months of winter.

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

  1. Keep an 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 or broth like chicken or bone, or add something sweet like raw organic honey
  2. 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.
  3. Create a covered potty area. This will protect your pooch’s paws from the cold ground. And you can do this inexpensively with straw or wood shavings. If you want something that’s easy to hose off or toss away later, consider a piece of artificial turf.
  4. Get your doggo a set of boots. Dog boots are essential when the ground is icy cold. They’ll keep your dog’s paws warm and comfortable. And they offer protection from any ice-melt chemicals often used in cities and urban areas.
  5. Keep yourself warm. If you’re not warm enough outside, chances are you’ll feel rushed and your dog 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 snug when it’s time for a potty run.
  6. Offer jackpot rewards. Show your dog how pleased you are when they nail their potty run in bitterly cold weather by offering them a bunch of high-value treats.

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

She’s also learning to trust you, an important foundation for further training.

The key take aways here are:

  • Work with nature and build on the conditioning your puppy has already begun to learn from mom.
  • Be consistent and rely on your pup’s natural context-bound nature. Teach her where her toilet is. She’ll learn fast and make a connection.
  • Rely on your German Shepherd pup’s predictable digestive tract and bladder by setting a routine.
  • Reward your pup when she gets it right. This will encourage her to do it again and again.
  • Remember that a mistake is a learning opportunity for your German Shepherd puppy. So stay positive and relaxed.

For the most positive way on how to potty train a German Shepherd puppy, get access to the exact method I’ve used for years and my daily schedule click on the purple link just below…

If you’re struggling with your puppy’s biting, here’s an article to teach your pup not to be a land shark!

Your dog should be just as comfy as you are in bed. Check out the latest and best rated orthopedic dog beds.

Looking for the best online dog training program? Check out my full reviews of the best and the worst programs.

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