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How To Potty Train A German Shepherd


Potty training is one of the most crucial training you’d have to give your puppy once you bring it home. It is essential to a healthy and enjoyable relationship between you two.

German shepherds are intelligent and eager to please, this should make the training less difficult. Yet, depending on the personality of your dog, it can take you a week or more to potty train your dog.

The key elements here are patience and perseverance. Also, note that accidents are bound to happen; you should be ready for that. Let’s delve in to learn all there is to know about potty training your German shepherd.

When Can I Start Potty Training My German Shepherd?

Once a German shepherd puppy is 3 weeks, it becomes aware of how to control its body, yet is it recommended that you start potty training your puppy when it’s 8 weeks old.

However, even at 6 or 7 weeks old, you can still start potty training, only bare in mind that your puppy cannot hold it in for long at that age.

Note that puppies can only hold their pee for an hour of every month they live so at 2 months old, your puppy can hold it in for 2 hours. Nonetheless, you should take it out for a break every one hour. This should be done throughout the day, including sleeping hours.

With consistency, your puppy should be sleeping throughout the night without having to wake you up every few hours.

Should I Still Potty Train My Adult German Shepherd?

If you are bringing a new adult German shepherd home, it is important to potty train it as not all adult dogs are trained or even well enough.

Regardless, you should introduce your new dog to your own rules and structure of activities in your home and this should include potty training.

Even if the dog has been potty trained, you must find out if it will respond the same way you want it to as it is likely it was trained in a different way and environment.

The process of potty training an adult dog is pretty much the same as a puppy so you should have no issues at all.

How Long Does It Take To Potty Train A German Shepherd Puppy?

There is no definite number to this as it is largely dependent on what methods you are using, how consistent you are and how well your dog is complying.

German Shepherds usually have full control of their bladder when they are 5 to 6 months old, although certain factors such as activity level, amount of water consumption and any other underlying medical condition can mean your dog is peeing more often. This means you are likely to potty train them for an extended period.

Accidents are bound to happen during training and thus can prolong the period of training. The best training is done with a routine, a schedule and guidance.

How To Potty Train A German Shepherd

Potty training can be a real challenge, yet you can make it easy for yourself and your dog if follow a strict routine. Some items you are going to need include puppy pads, a crate and a good number of toilet tissues and wipes. Let’s see how you can go about it:

  1. Establish a Potty-Training Routine

A routine is very important if you want to get this whole training thing right. The bladders and bowels of your puppy can be predicted not only through its sleeping pattern but also based on what they eat and drink.

Immediately your puppy wakes from his sleep in the morning and even from naps, take it out to ease itself. Same for when it is going to bed at night or before leaving it for long periods. This way, you are certain that you’re not going to wake up to nasty stuff in your house.

If you’re just starting the training, it is recommended that every 30 minutes, you take your dog out to the toilet. Do this for a while before you increase the time to an hour. Consistently doing this will make your dog understand the need to use the designated area when it wants to relieve itself.

  1. Control Your Puppy’s Diet

As a way of controlling the rate of accidents in your absence, you should not feed your puppy just anything. Ensure that the food is of a higher quality and well balanced, with real meat as the main ingredient. Avoid diets with preservatives and artificial colours.

Given puppies’ immature diet systems, foods tend to digest faster than in adult dogs. Thus, we recommend that you take your puppy out to pee 15 minutes after eating and use the toilet 30 minutes after eating.

We also recommend feeding your puppy in smaller quantities 3 times a day rather than in huge chunks 3 times a day. Also, immediately take the bowl away after your puppy is done eating so it doesn’t overeat. This ensures that after you have taken it out to pee and use the toilet, it would not accidentally do so again in your house just because it overate.

  1. Confine Your Dog and Be Consistent

This is where the crate comes in. During potty training, it is essential to confine your puppy to a small area or a crate and only lead it to where it is to toilet and pee until you are certain it is okay to let it roam the house. This prevents accidents.

You should consistently take it to that one area of the house where you want it to be the toilet until your dog can associate that area with toileting and peeing. Make sure the crate is big enough for your puppy to lie, sit and stand, just not big enough for it to feel comfortable peeing or toileting in there.

Puppy pad training also helps in this regard, as it also means getting your dog to use a particular area in the house. Although this puppy pad training does not guarantee a long-term solution, it temporarily curbs some mess that would otherwise have occasioned extra cleaning work.

  1. Know The Signs That Your Puppy Wants to Toilet or Pee

You should learn to pick up on the signs your dog showcases when it wants to pee or toilet. If you notice that your puppy is sniffing your floors, moving around in circles, looking anxious and restless or even moving to areas it used to pee and toilet, this is a sign that you should take it out.

  1. Teach Your Puppy a Phrase or Command Word

One important thing is to have a phrase or a command word your dog will understand to mean it should go pee or toilet. You should use this phrase every time you take it out to pee. Once you get out, you issue the phrase so they can move to the designated area for toilet or pee. With consistency, this should be a thing between you and your shepherd friend.

  1. Do not Yell or Physically Punish Your Dog for Accidents

Accidents are bound to happen during this period. You should just clean up when it happens and never scold your dog as this will not help matters in any way. Rather, your dog will start feeling uncomfortable around you. As we have repeated time and again, patience is key during this period.

  1. Give Your Dog a Treat for Good Behavior

Once your puppy has rightly used the designated area to toilet or pee, you should give it a treat for positive reinforcement. This can occasion success faster than you imagined as your dog will now associate using the designated area with treats.

What Do I Do When Accidents Occur?

Accidents are bound to happen. Do not scold your dog when they happen. Give your puppy a gentle “no” and take it outside right away. This is especially advisable if you catch them in the act. Some owners are fond of dipping their puppy’s nose in the toilet when they catch them. This is not advisable as your dog may start eating its shit.

Give it a gentle “no” at that moment and your dog will associate “no” with not toileting or peeing in those spots again. You ought to be consistent with your “no” and your tone. This will help. Take your dog out to the designated area and clean up the mess made.

In cleaning, we recommend an enzymatic cleaner instead of soap and water as the former

can break down odour and stain with good bacteria. Also, do not use cleaners containing ammonia as this is already found in urine. Your puppy might mistakenly think the place is a good spot for peeing because of the ammonia; avoid it!

Some Causes Of Indiscriminate Peeing Or Defecation

Sometimes you may notice that your puppy is peeing or defecating way too often and that has caused you some concern. While this may be due to increased dieting, it could be a health concern and you will have to see your vet. Some known causes are:

Diabetes: Two phenomena usually tell us our German shepherd puppy has diabetes; polydipsia, which has to do with increased and polyuria, which is when the urination rate has increased in your puppy. Diabetes is the increment in blood sugar levels. This leads to poor water regulation in your puppy’s kidneys.

Renal/Kidney Failure: At its old age, when the kidneys lose function, your dog is going to drink more and also urinate more. However, your dog’s urination may decrease in the event of chronic kidney failure.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): Whereas female dogs are more prone to UTI than male dogs, puppies are also more prone to it than adult dogs. UTI may be an indication of urinary bladder stones or a tumour. Your dog will experience increased urination and straining if it contracts UTI

Steroid Medication: If your dog is on prescription steroids for inflammation, it will experience increased drinking and urination.

Enlarged Prostate: In male dogs with an enlarged prostate condition, they may experience straining and increased urination. You should neuter your male shepherd to avoid this.

Cushing’s Disease: Cushing’s disease manifests similarly to a dog taking steroids, with increased thirst and urination as common symptoms. In the German Shepherd, Cushing’s disease may have as its cause a pituitary gland tumour at the base of the brain or an adrenal gland tumour near the kidneys.

Pyometra: This affects female dogs that are not spayed and are much older. It affects the uterus and causes increased drinking and urination.

Why It Is Important To Potty Train Your Dog Yourself

Is it no secret that training a dog can be a difficult task and as such some owners prefer to take their dogs to professional trainers. However, there are some benefits you stand to enjoy if you learn to train your dog yourself.

Firstly, it deepens the bond between you and your dog while helping you to understand how your dog learns. Your puppy is also able to be acquainted with your teaching methods.

Also, it strengthens the trust your dog has for you while building important communication skills between you and your dog. This makes any future training simpler.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some frequently asked questions about how to potty train your German Shepherd;

How Often Do German Shepherds Need To Potty?

German Shepherd generally poop between one to five times a day depending on several factors such as age, diet, and complications such as diarrhea and constipation.

Is A German Shepherd Hard To Potty Train?

While breed is not a reliable indicator of temperament, German shepherds are described as intelligent and confident. They have plenty of energy and are eager to please. This can make them one of the easiest dogs to potty train when you proceed with consistency and plenty of positive reinforcement.

How Long After Eating Does A German Shepherd Poop?

As soon as the animal’s stomach is full, the colon is notified. That means most dogs will poop within that 30-minute period after eating. Just how many times a dog poops daily varies by the animal. Most dogs defecate between one-and-three times daily, and that’s not always after meals.

At What Age Should A German Shepherd Be Potty Trained?

A German Shepherd should be potty trained starting as young as 7 to 8-weeks-old. Around 5 to 6 weeks of age, puppies wander from their mother and learn to soil outside their sleeping areas


There you have it! We hope this article helps you a great deal in potty training your dog. Indeed, it is not an easy task, yet with the right attitude, patience and consistency, you will eventually have your dog peeing and defecating where you want it to.

We however do not rule out contacting a professional trainer if you do not think you are up for this.

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