Knowing how to potty train a German Shepherd puppy is undoubtedly one of the steepest learning curves of having a new dog. Lucky for you, German Shepherd’s are renown for their trainability and quick wits, which can make it a quick and rewarding experience.
Given the proper tools potting training your German Shepherd puppy can be a rewarding experience.
Here are our few simple tricks you will have your German Shepherd puppy house trained in no time.
Your Puppy’s Body
Understanding the physiology of your puppy’s body is a great way to approach toilet training. Your puppy won’t gain full bladder control until 5-6 months of age.
A basic rule of thumb is that for every month of age, a puppy is able to hold their bladder for up to one hour. With this in mind, a 3-month-old puppy will need toilet breaks at least every 3 hours, and yes, this includes overnight!
Working with Nature
Dogs are den animals, meaning they find comfort and sanctuary in burrows. This is why we recommend providing a crate for your puppy. This not only provides them with a safe space, but it is also a vital tool in your dog training journey.
A dog’s natural instinct is to not soil their sleeping area, so utilizing the crate as a sleeping area helps them learn bladder control. Make sure to allow your puppy regular toilet breaks while in the crate (this includes overnight!).
The Feeling under their Toes…
Dogs are habitual animals, which means that once they learn to toilet on a particular surface they will see that as a toileting cue. Make sure to always place your puppy on the right surface (usually grass) when you are encouraging them to the toilet.
For this reason, we recommend skipping things like puppy toileting pads. All these do is create another step in training and confuse your puppy about which surfaces are appropriate for toileting.
Sticking to a Routine
The most important thing when potty training your German Shepherd puppy is consistency.
Make sure you take your puppy to go potty as soon as you get up in the morning, after meals, after naps and after playing (prior to crating).
It can often be beneficial to take your puppy to their toileting area during periods of high excitement as well (like if you’ve gotten home!).
Puppies will often lose control of their bladders when they’re super excited. Being on the correct surface when this happens helps strengthen the connections between going potty and the correct surface to do this.
Taking your Puppy out
Walk your puppy out to the designated toileting area. Many owners find it beneficial to use a verbal command at this point for their puppy to connect with the toileting action such as “potty” or “flow”.
Sometimes your puppy might toilet straight away, other times they might just have a sniff and an explore. Try to stay relaxed – puppies will often pick up if you are restless or want to leave! If you are potty training during the winter months we recommend making sure you have a nice, snuggly jacket for this reason!
When your puppy does toilet, repeat the command word. Once they’re finished make sure to lavish them with praise and affection! You can also give them a treat as a special reward.
Top tip: research has shown that in order for a dog to connect an action with a reward, the reward has to be given within 3 seconds. With this in mind, make sure to be quick when rewarding your pup!
Make sure to let your puppy play for a bit outside after toileting. If they get taken in straight away after going potty they may start to see this as a form of punishment.
How to Potty Train a German Shepherd Puppy Positively
As above, we recommend positive reinforcement training. This had been proven to be the most effective training method in all types of dog training, not just potty training! This type of training works with the natural instinct of your dog wanting to please you.
Not only is it an effective training technique but it also strengthens the bond between you and your pet, building trust and affection.
Positive reinforcement doesn’t just have to mean treats, it can mean verbal praise, food or toys/play. As you get to know your puppy you will learn what they’re motivated by.
Feeding a Complimentary Diet
Keep your German Shepherd puppy’s body healthy and regular by feeding a good diet. We recommend avoiding foods like dog loaf, which are high in fat and can cause stomach upsets in young puppies.
Instead, choose an optimum diet formulated specially for puppies. Puppy foods are higher in protein, calcium and good fatty acids. These are essential for their bone health and brain development as they grow.
Choose a puppy food that has extra ingredients to support their gut, such as beetroot pulp.
Don’t forget: always take your puppy out to the potty following a meal!
Potty training your German Shepherd can sometimes cause excitement of bringing a new puppy home to fizzle as the not-so-pleasant reality of toileting accidents come to light.
However, keep in mind that just like potty training a toddler, accidents from your puppy should be expected!
This can be incredibly frustrating, (especially after the second, third and fourth time!), but the way you handle these accidents makes a huge difference to the success of your training.
For your puppy, being yelled at following an accident is not only upsetting, but they will also be unable to understand why they are being scolded. Make sure not to yell and instead calmly lift your puppy and move them to their toileting area.
Although “rubbing their nose in it” is an age-old saying, we now know that this method is not only unpleasant for your puppy but ineffective.
Your puppy will not connect this punishment with the behavior and may instead become fearful of you.
Underlying causes of inappropriate toileting
If your puppy has had success while potty training and suddenly regresses, there may be underlying health reasons such as stress or infections.
If your pet begins to have out of the ordinary accidents, then consider taking them to visit their veterinarian for a check-up.
Key Tips to Remember
Although house training your puppy can be a steep learning curve, it is during this time that you (and your puppy!) can learn training skills that will be invaluable during your pet training journey.
Stay positive, work with your puppy’s natural instincts and you will have a potty trained puppy in no time! Remember, consistent and persistent training is the key to learning how to potty train a German Shepherd Puppy the right way!