How To Potty Train a German Shepherd: 7 Easy Steps

As you embark on this exciting journey of raising a loyal and intelligent companion, one of the essential skills to teach your furry friend is potty training.

While it may seem daunting at first, with the right approach and consistency, you can successfully toilet-train your German Shepherd.

In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide to potty training your German Shepherd puppy in 10 easy steps.

From establishing a designated elimination area to gradually extending your pup’s freedom, we will cover everything you need to know to ensure a successful and stress-free potty training experience.

So let’s dive in and get started on creating a clean and well-mannered environment for you and your four-legged friend.

Step 1: Establish a Designated Elimination Area

The first step in potty training your German Shepherd is to establish a designated elimination area.

This area can be either outside in your backyard or a designated spot indoors if you live in an apartment or don’t have immediate access to an outdoor space.

When choosing an outdoor spot, look for an area that is easily accessible and doesn’t have any distractions, such as excessive noise or foot traffic.

Make sure it’s safe for your puppy to explore without the risk of encountering harmful substances or hazards.

If you’re opting for an indoor elimination area, consider using puppy pads or a specific litter box designed for dogs.

Place it in a quiet and easily accessible location within your home, away from your dog’s sleeping and eating areas.

Once you have chosen the elimination area, consistently take your German Shepherd puppy to this location whenever they need to relieve themselves.

This will help your puppy associate the place with the act of elimination and establish a routine.

Remember, consistency is crucial during this stage.

Take your puppy to the designated area immediately after waking up, after meals, and after playtime.

Additionally, ensure your puppy has regular access to the elimination area throughout the day to prevent accidents elsewhere in the house.

By establishing a designated elimination area, you are providing your German Shepherd puppy with a clear understanding of where they should go to relieve themselves, setting the foundation for successful potty training.

Step 2: Create a Schedule

Creating a consistent schedule for your German Shepherd puppy is essential for successful potty training.

Dogs thrive on routine, and having a structured schedule helps them understand when it’s time to go outside or use their indoor elimination area.

Start by establishing regular feeding times for your puppy. 

Feed them at the same times each day, which will help regulate their digestive system and make it easier to predict when they’ll need to eliminate.

Most puppies need to go outside or use their designated area within 30 minutes of eating.

In addition to meal times, schedule specific bathroom breaks throughout the day.

Take your puppy to the designated elimination area after waking up, before bedtime, and after each play or exercise session.

This will ensure they have ample opportunities to relieve themselves in the appropriate location.

When scheduling bathroom breaks, keep in mind that young puppies have smaller bladders and shorter control over their bodily functions.

As a general guideline, they can hold their bladder for one hour per month of age.

For example, if your puppy is three months old, aim to take them outside or to their indoor area at least every three hours.

Consistency is key when following the schedule. Regularly stick to the designated times and promptly take your puppy to the elimination area.

Over time, your German Shepherd will learn to anticipate these bathroom breaks, making it easier for them to understand where and when to eliminate them.

By creating a schedule, you not only provide your German Shepherd with a reliable routine but also minimize the chances of accidents inside your home.

With consistency and patience, your puppy will soon grasp the concept of potty training and become more adept at holding their bladder until it’s time to go.

Step 3: Supervise and Monitor

Supervising and monitoring your German Shepherd puppy is crucial during the potty training process.

Keeping a close eye on them allows you to anticipate their needs and prevent accidents from happening inside your home.

When your puppy is not in their designated elimination area, it’s important to closely supervise them.

You can use a leash or keep them in a small, puppy-proofed area where you can easily observe their behavior.

This prevents them from wandering off and having accidents without your knowledge.

Watch for signs that your puppy needs to eliminate, such as sniffing the ground, circling, or becoming restless.

These are indications that they are looking for a place to go. Immediately take them to the designated elimination area when you notice these signs.

It’s also helpful to establish a verbal cue or command for elimination.

Choose a specific phrase like “Go potty” or “Do your business” and consistently use it each time you take your puppy to their designated area.

This will help associate the cue with the act of elimination, making it easier for your dog to understand what is expected of them.

If you cannot directly supervise your puppy, consider using a crate or a playpen.

Dogs generally don’t like to soil their sleeping or playing area, so confining them to a small space can help prevent accidents.

However, it’s important not to leave your puppy crated for extended periods as they need regular exercise and interaction.

Remember, accidents can happen even with the best supervision, especially during the early stages of training.

If you catch your puppy in the act of eliminating in an inappropriate area, calmly redirect them to the designated area without punishment.

Reacting harshly may confuse or fear them, making the potty training process more challenging.

By supervising and monitoring your German Shepherd puppy closely, you can catch potential accidents before they happen and guide your dog towards the appropriate elimination area. 

With time and vigilance, you’ll help your puppy develop good habits and reinforce the desired behavior.

Step 4: Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool when potty training your German Shepherd.

By rewarding your puppy for using the designated elimination area, you create a positive association and motivate them to continue doing so.

When your puppy eliminates in the right spot, immediately offer praise, enthusiastic verbal cues like “Good job!”, and gentle patting or petting.

You can also use small, tasty treats as rewards.

Make sure to provide the reward immediately after they finish, so they understand what behavior you’re praising.

Conversely, avoid punishing or scolding your puppy for accidents that occur inside the house. 

Negative reinforcement can create fear and confusion, hindering the potty training process. Instead, focus on guiding them to the correct spot and reinforcing good behaviors.

If you catch your puppy starting to eliminate in an inappropriate area, calmly interrupt them and quickly redirect them to the designated area.

Once they finish eliminating in the right spot, praise and reward them.

This helps them understand that eliminating in the designated area is the desired behavior.

Step 5: Correct Mistakes Calmly

Mistakes and accidents are bound to happen during the potty training process with your German Shepherd puppy.

It’s important to address these mistakes calmly and without anger or punishment.

If you catch your puppy in the act of eliminating in an inappropriate area, quickly but gently interrupt the behavior with a noise or clap.

Then, guide them to the designated elimination area to finish the job.

As I said before – Avoid scolding or harsh punishment, as it can create fear or confusion in your puppy.

Once your puppy has successfully eliminated in the appropriate spot, offer praise, gentle petting, and a small treat.

Positive reinforcement helps your German Shepherd understand that eliminating in the designated area is the desired behavior.

Step 6: Clean Accidents Thoroughly

Accidents are a natural part of the potty training process, but it’s crucial to clean up accidents thoroughly to prevent lingering smells and repeat incidents.

Dogs have a keen sense of smell, and if a spot smells like a bathroom, they may be more likely to eliminate there again.

Use an enzymatic cleaner designed specifically for pet messes to thoroughly clean any accident spots.

These cleaners break down the mess and eliminate odors effectively, reducing the chances of your German Shepherd being drawn back to that area.

Follow the instructions provided with the cleaner and ensure that the affected area is completely treated.

It’s important to also clean any surrounding areas or objects that may have come into contact with the accident, as residual scents can still attract your puppy to that spot.

By cleaning accidents promptly and thoroughly, you create a cleaner environment for your German Shepherd and eliminate any lingering scents that may encourage them to continue eliminating in the wrong places.

Step 7: Gradually Extend Freedom

As your German Shepherd puppy becomes more reliable in their potty training, you can gradually start extending their freedom and giving them increased access to different areas of your home.

Start by gradually allowing your puppy into one additional room at a time, using baby gates or supervising closely.

This helps prevent overwhelming them and allows you to observe and react if accidents occur.

Keep a close eye on your puppy during this phase and continue to reinforce proper elimination in the designated area.

If accidents happen, it may be a sign that you need to slow down and provide more supervision or reduce their access until they are consistently reliable.

Remember that each puppy is different, and the timeframe for extending freedom will vary. 

Some puppies may progress quickly, while others may take longer to grasp potty training concepts.

Be patient, adjust as necessary, and celebrate small victories along the way.

By gradually extending your German Shepherd’s freedom, you’re giving them the opportunity to showcase their potty training progress while gradually building their confidence and independence within your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do German Shepherds potty train easily?

    German Shepherds are intelligent and trainable, but potty training requires consistency and patience. With proper guidance and positive reinforcement, they can be successfully potty trained.

  2. How do I stop my German Shepherd from peeing in the house?

    Address accidents calmly, interrupting the behavior if caught in the act. Redirect your German Shepherd to the designated area and reward them for eliminating there. Clean accidents thoroughly to prevent repeat incidents.

  3. How do I train my German Shepherd to go to the bathroom outside?

    Establish a designated elimination area, use positive reinforcement, and follow a consistent schedule for bathroom breaks. Supervise and monitor your puppy, redirecting them to the outdoor area when needed.

  4. Are German Shepherds easy to potty train?

    While each dog is different, German Shepherds are generally intelligent and eager to please, making them trainable. Consistency and positive reinforcement are key to successful potty training.

  5. How long can German Shepherds hold their pee?

    The ability to hold urine varies based on age, health, and individual differences. As a general guideline, a German Shepherd puppy can typically hold their bladder for about one hour per month of age.

  6. How to potty train a German Shepherd puppy?

    Establish a designated area, create a consistent schedule, supervise closely, use positive reinforcement, and gradually extend freedom. Correct mistakes calmly and thoroughly clean accidents to prevent repeat incidents.


Potty training your German Shepherd puppy is an important and achievable task with the right approach and consistency.

By following the 10 easy steps outlined in this guide, you can establish a strong foundation for successful potty training.

From establishing a designated elimination area to gradually extending your puppy’s freedom, each step plays a crucial role in teaching good bathroom habits.

Remember, potty training takes time, patience, and consistent effort.

Be prepared for some accidents along the way, but stay dedicated to guiding your German Shepherd in the right direction.

Utilize positive reinforcement, supervise closely, and create a predictable schedule to set your puppy up for success.

With your consistent guidance and positive reinforcement, your German Shepherd will soon understand where and when to eliminate, making your home a cleaner and more pleasant environment for both of you.

Enjoy the journey of building a strong bond with your furry friend as you work together towards achieving successful potty training.

I have been fortunate to have German Shepherds as my beloved companions for the past decade. I trained , cared for them, and formed an unbreakable bond with each fluffy butt that I came across. Inspired by my profound love for German Shepherds, I decided to start a website dedicated solely to these magnificent dogs
Zara Hawkins

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