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

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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.

Read more about my Flawless Potty Training Guide.

Here’s some feedback from students who have had awesome results using my Flawless Potty Training method…

Student Feedback on the Flawless Potty Training Guide

Flawless Potty Training Feedback from Student

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

How to potty training a German Shepherd puppy doesn't need to be stressful.

Potty training a German Shepherd puppy doesn’t need to be stressful.

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:  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.

Learn more about how you can flawlessly potty train your puppy!

#7. Rewarding Correct Behavior

Lear how to potty train a german shepherd puppy the right way

My boy Zè getting it right!

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 blue link just below…

Read more about the Flawless Potty Training Guide Here!

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

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About the author: Gabriella is a certified professional dog trainer with the Victoria Stilwell Academy. She has a special passion for teaching GSD guardians to train their dogs with kindness and clarity using positive reinforcement methods without force, pain, or fear. Join “Dog Speak” for free dog training tips and advice from a professional dog trainer.

  • Shaylee Packer

    I didn’t realize that the puppy will want to relieve himself 10-30 minutes after eating. We are thinking about getting a German Shepard, and want to make sure that we are prepared before we bring him home. I will have to keep these tips in mind as it gets closer to the time we have her.

  • Patricika

    Hey Gabriella! You have a lot of great tips for gsd.

  • Matt

    So in just a couple of weeks I’ll be getting my first GSD puppy. He’ll be 8 weeks old so I’ll have a real young boy. Anyways, I’m nervous about potty training him bc I live on a farm and I want him to be able to have fun outside a lot but at nights come in and sleep in my room and hang with me inside. Would it be a better idea to have a kennel in my room? And if so for how long will he need one til he can go to a dog bed? And once school starts up for me what’s the best way to go about that? Have someone else around the house take him outside bc I can’t or? And eventually will he able to sleep on my bed too or is that a bad idea? I’m trying to get all prepared for him before he gets here and these are just some questions I had

    Thank you

    • Hi Matt,

      Thanks for your questions! And congrats on your soon-to-be best friend!

      Potty training is a tough stage to get through, but it’s possible to have a 100% reliably potty trained pup if it’s done right. The tips in this article will help you along the way. You can also check out the guide I wrote based on the techniques I’ve learned and used over the years to potty train my dogs.

      I think it’s always a good idea to have a space inside for a dog. Dogs are den animals, just like their wolf ancestors so providing them with a space where they can go to chill, nap, relax and feel safe is essential. This den can consist of a crate or a bed or both. My dogs have dens in our living area and also a bed each in our room. It’s entirely up to you how you want to set this up. It does help to have their den in a corner or against at least one wall.

      Whether your boy is allowed to sleep on your bed depends on what you (and your parents) want. Some folks don’t allow their dogs on any furniture while other folks don’t mind. Personally, I don’t mind. My dogs are allowed on my bed to nap anytime they want. But they are not allowed to sleep on my bed overnight, they know this and happily sleep on their own beds during the night. But if your boy does eventually sleep on your bed, it’s still a good idea that he has his own dog bed, and it can be in your room if you prefer.

      Once school starts, you might need to get a family member, friend, neighbor or dog walker to let your boy out for potty runs. How many times a day will depend on how old he is by the time you go back to school. This article will give you tips on how long a pup can hold their bowel and bladder based on their age.

      I hope I’ve managed to answer your questions thoroughly. Feel free to drop any other questions you have in the comments. I’m always around and happy to help where I can. 🙂

  • Lori

    I just got an 8 Wk old GSD yesterday from the Humane Society. Last night and this morning she was doing bgreat at going potty outside. I live in MN and today we have a huge storm with alot of snow and dangerous wind chills headng for us. With the wind, snow and bitter temps, my puppy cannot be out for more than 2 or 3 min so she is starting to poop in the house. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Lori!

      Thanks for your question and congrats on your new best friend!

      In this case, you could consider using pee pads as a temporary fix until the worst of the weather has passed. Although I’m not a big fan of pee pads since it does mean an extra step to re-train once the pads are not needed any longer. But they can be helpful in this situation. These pee pads can be found on Amazon. I think they are great value for money.

      Another thing you could do is get your pup some boots for outside. I think these will be helpful throughout the cold winter months since she will need some outside time whether it’s for a potty run or just for play and stretching her legs. These dog boots from Amazon are water resistant and will keep her paws warm. They are well made with stitching instead of glue, and they have anti-slip soles. You might want to consider a warm jacket for her too.

      It’s important that you keep accidents to a minimum inside. So I recommend that when your pup is inside, keeping her under direct supervision so that you can notice the signals that she wants to go out for a potty run. Look for signs like sniffing, circling, and staring at nothing in particular. Also, listen out for whining. If you can’t supervise directly, I recommend letting her chill out in her crate. You can find out more about crate training in this guide.

      Also, clean up any areas where she’s had accidents with an enzymatic cleaner. Regular cleaners often don’t get rid of the scent left behind. Although you might not be able to smell it, your pup still can. And any scent from previous accidents will signal to her that it’s okay to use the area as a toilet. You can get some of these cleaners on Amazon too.

      I hope this helps. 🙂

  • Adrienne

    Hello!! I’ve loved reading over your site since we’ve become proud parents of a GSD pup. The pup arrived by MIL-order (hah! but seriously, my MIL showed up with him) at only 6 weeks old. He’s now 8 weeks and has been making strides with his positive reinforcement training.

    HOWEVER, we seem to have come into a snag and this is where I need your expertise. Pup was urinating and defecating just fine outside and his accidents in the house were becoming fewer and fewer.

    Ever since a few days ago when we had a really heavy rain, he wont defecate outside anymore.

    He will urinate outside just fine still, but he was resorting to his “spot” in the kitchen he uses at night when were asleep, or going in the garage when we are doing tasks with him following us around.

    We took his “spot” away in the kitchen and he immediately found a new spot behind the Christmas tree even after me taking him out every 30 min for a potty check.

    HOW can I revert his behavior instead of him taking steps backwards?

    • Hi Adrienne,

      Thanks for your comment.

      So the first thing is to get your hands on Enzymatic cleaner. It’s designed for cleaning away ALL scent left by accidents. Using regular cleaner will wash away anything you can smell, but your pup can still pick up the scent. Which signals to him that the area is an acceptable potty space. You can find Enzymatic Cleaners here on Amazon.

      If you find he’s not pooping outside during or after it’s rained, take him back inside and control his movements through crating or tethering. This will give you the ability to watch for signs that he’s looking for a spot to poop. At which point you take him out again. Keep at this until he poops outside. It’ll take patience, but once he’s done it praise him excitedly and give food rewards.

      If he’s following you around while you’re doing tasks outside, I recommend tethering him to you. This way you also have control over his environment and he can’t go doing his business in the garage. And again, you’ll be able to see when he’s showing body language that he’s looking for a potty spot.

      Also, if he’s pooping or urinating inside during the night, crating is the way to go to prevent this. I’m not sure if you have him crate trained or have a crate. Check out this article on crate training if you want to know more.

      Hope this helps, if you have any other questions, just drop them in the comments.

      Chat soon,

  • Stephan

    Hi, I do my best to house train my pup. I do have to leave him indoors while I’m at work, for the reson that I’m afraid someone might take him as it has happen. Will this have a big influence in training him to pot outside?

    • Hi Stephan,

      Thanks for your question. I can totally relate to the concern about having dogs stolen. It happens a lot here too.

      You dont say how old your pup is but if he’s still very young he won’t be able to hold his bladder for more than 2 hours. At least until 16 weeks. The issue you might run into is if he becomes accustomed to toileting in the house it will become a habit. And that will affect his potty training.

      Is there a way you can ask someone you trust explicitly to visit a few times during the day to let him out for a toilet run and a play? Or maybe drop him off at their house for the time you are at work. If this is not possible, you might want to look into a doggy daycare.

      As a last resort, you might consider pee pads. I’m not a big fan of them since it adds another step to the potty training process, but if it’s your only option then it’s the best one. And it will give you peace of mind knowing that he’s safe inside rather than worrying all day about his safety.

      Hope this helps. 🙂

  • Sherrah

    I’m bringing my GSD home in a few weeks, and I’ve been doing all the reading and researching I possibly can to prepare for it! Discovering this site has been such a blessing and instead of feeling anxious, I’m getting increasingly more excited to tackle this part of my puppy’s growth!

    However, I do have a concern. I work evenings, and I’ve already set-up to have someone come over to let him out once or twice while I’m gone. But since it’s been stated that they can only hold their little bladders for a few hours or less, I’m worried that this routine might be bad. Is there any way I can make this work?? I want to try my very best to make sure this process goes well for us.

    • Hi Sherrah,

      Congrats on your new best friend!

      I’m pleased you’re finding the site useful. 🙂

      You don’t say at what age your pup will be joining you in his new home but if he’s had all his vaccinations which should be around 12 weeks it’s safe to expose him to other dogs.

      So if it’s at all possible, could you let him remain with the breeder until he’s up to date with his vaccinations? Once he’s had his vaccinations you could enroll him in a doggy daycare until he’s old enough to hold it until he has his two trips out for a toilet break and a play with the person you’ve arranged this with.

      It’s really the only way, unless you can ask the person to puppy-sit for you and take him out every 2 to 3 hours.

      I hope this helps. 🙂

  • ayden

    my dog gets destracted when he goes out side

    • Hi Ayden,

      I’m assuming your dog is still a pup since it’s the pups who are distracted by the slightest thing. And this does affect training. But you’re not alone, it happens to all of us! LOL.

      My advice is to teach a focus command. You can learn more about how to do this and also why dog’s are distracted by checking out my article on why your GSD is not listening.

      I hope this is helpful. If you have other questions, feel free to drop them in the comments.


  • Abel

    I have been struggling to potty train my 12week old GSD. I thought I was doing the right thing by providing her with pee pads. But I’ve had no success. All she does is tear them up and chew the pieces and then poops and pees anyway.

    I’ve bought your guide and I hope it’s going to be the answer I need.

    Thank you for these tips too. I am making a few of the common mistakes too! LOL

    Abel and Cassy

    • Hi Abel!

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yup, I’m not a fan of pee pads for the very reason you describe!

      Just to remind you that you have access to me directly via email if you need any help or get stuck along the potty training road. I’m here if you need anything.

      Chat soon,

  • Nana


    My 3 months old German Shepherd, Duke. He’s potty trained, knows the basic commands but my the one issue at hand is he hates baths. He loves water though. I can fill up his swimming pool and he’ll play in it.. he’s always trying to jump in ponds and lakes, but when I try to give him a bath at home… he’ll claw his way out leaving me with battle scars galore! Any suggestions?

    Nana & Duke

    • Hi Nana and Duke!

      Yup! They’re funny like that! If it’s their choice it’s fun. If it’s our choice – not so much!

      Try to make baths fun. Toys and treats work great. Also, it helps a lot to expose them slowly to bathing. So reward him near the bath just for being there. Then reward him for being around the bath with the water running. And so on. Until he’s totally comfortable.

  • Rick Brown

    Should they be cut off from water at a certain point ours loves water

  • Jenny

    Hi Gabriella,

    I wanted to come here and say thanks so much for all your support while I was potty training Linka. Your guide made it so easy to understand how to keep one step ahead and what I was doing wrong. And I’m still surprised how small changes made such a positive difference.

    I’m so happy I came across your website and your potty training guide because at that point I was starting to lose hope.

    Thanks for answering all my emails, I know there were a lot!

    Jenny and Linka

    • Hi Jenny,

      Thanks so much for your comment. You’ve made my day! 🙂

  • Brent

    I have found that your guide works very well for my 3mo. old blk/red “Ava” is already fully housebroken! We hang what my kids call jingle bells on our doorknobs. When pups get need to potty…Jingle…Jingle! It is to the point now that if they need to go urgently it sounds like Santa Clause himself landing at the door!? ???

    • Hi Brent!!

      Yay! I’m so pleased you’ve found the guide useful and that Ava has mastered such an important behavior!

      The program is really so successful if implemented properly! How long did Ava take to figure it out?

      I love the bells! It makes things so exciting!

      Let me know if you have any more questions, I’m always happy to help!

      – Gabriella

  • John B

    Hi Gabriella!

    We recently welcomed Floki our 12 week old German Shepherd into our home. He’s everything we want and more!

    Your potty training guide for german shepherds is a great help! Floki is almost there, no accidents since we started with your training.

    Does that mean he’s 100% reliable yet? Or should we keep following your training?

    Thanks John B

    • Hi John,

      Congrats on your new pup! Floki is a cool name, and Vikings is my favorite show!

      I recommend you continue with the training by following the timeline, this will guarantee that Floki is 100% reliable.

      Remember you have direct access to me via email for any questions concerning Floki’s potty training. It’s one of the benefits of following my program.

      So feel free to drop me an email if you need anything.

      Chat soon.

  • Hamza

    Hi I really liked your articles and just wanted to ask a question on the topic. My gsd is 6 weeks old and he’s unfortunately gotten into a habit of pooping in a particular corner of the house near his crate. So as soon as I leave him there he goes and does his thing. This is even if I stand outside with him for hours he won’t budge but will immediately eliminate once I take him back near his spot. Is this normal and would he grow out of it?

    I also wanted to ask you about some tiny red dots underneath his belly. They don’t seem to be causing him any issues but could you tell me what it could be?

    • Hi Hamaz!

      I’m please you’re finding the information here useful!

      I’ll quickly deal with the red dots first. Since I haven’t seen them and I’m not a trained medical professional, they could be just about anything. But I just want ask whether they could be his teats. These would be very small at 6 weeks old. If there are 3 or 4 on each side and if the 2 rows run parallel towards each other then it’s likely teats.

      Now for the potty issue…

      To answer your question, no, he won’t grow out of it. If you don’t get him 100% reliable and help him break his habit of pooping in that corner, you’ll be cleaning up fully grown male poop on and off for a long time. I know it sounds dramatic but that’s the truth.

      So, firstly, I recommend you definitely get an Enzymatic cleaner. I use this Anti Icky Poo but you might find a different kind in a store near you. Don’t worry if it’s not the same brand. As long as it’s Enzyme cleaner you’re good to go.

      You need a special cleaner because dogs leave behind a smell that your nose can’t pick up after it’s cleaned. But they have super powerful noses so he can still smell it and that’s why he keeps going there. So your first step is to get rid of the smell.

      Also, I’d like to recommend that you get a copy of my potty training guide. In it I show you step-by-step how to get your pup 100% reliable. You also get direct access to me via email to help you every step of the way with any problems, questions or issues you are having.

      Check it out, to see if it’s something you’d be interested in.

      Chat soon.

  • Briana Wilks

    I just bought a GSD Pup off of someone. They said that the pup was potty trained. He’s a full bred nine month old dog. He uses the bathroom outside if someone is there, but recently he’s been peeing inside. We are trying to break him of this so it doesn’t go further to pooping too. Do you have any tips for an older pup? Also he won’t bark or scratch when he needs to go. He simply walks to the door and hopes you see him then leaves after no more than ten seconds.

    • Hi Briana,

      Congrats on the new member of your household!

      Your new best friend hasn’t learned that doing his business inside is totally off limits, he’s not 100% reliable yet. Aand you’re right in wanting to stop it before it get to pooping! Big dog = Big poop!

      Teaching him to be 100% reliable should only take a few weeks. I really recommend getting your hands on my potty training guide. In it you’ll learn exactly how to teach him how to be reliable and stay reliable.

      Check out the guide here:

      With the guide you’ll have direct access to me for any questions or issues you’re having.



    • Hi Bonnie,

      It sounds like you have your hands full with your 2 new girls!

      Firstly, you might want to separate the 2 crates until you have your 1 pup reliably not messing in her crate, just to make sure your other girl doesn’t have uninterrupted sleep.

      There could be a few reasons your pup is messing in her crate.

      The first suggestion I’d make is to rule out any medical reasons like a urinary tract infection. This could be the cause of frequent urination. I’m not saying it is so but a trip to your vet will rule this out.

      Secondly, as a rule dogs don’t mess where they sleep but unfortunately, if they get into the habit they will do so even if it’s not a normal trait for dogs. If you’re not doing it already, I recommend cleaning all her bedding and anything else in her bed that can absorb odors with a special cleaner. A dog’s pee and poop leaves and odor that you can ‘t smell. This odor lets them know where their toilet is – even if it’s not their toilet. I always use and recommend an odor remover specially made for this. The one I find to work the best is Anti Icky Poo.

      Thirdly, are you sure you’re hearing her on her first bark or the first sounds she makes when she’s signalling to go out? Is her barking the first signals or is she whining before hand? Each pup is different and I remember my boy Zè would gently whine before barking. If he was already barking when I heard him I knew he’d already been calling me for a while. I’m a deep sleeper so I was caught off guard sometimes and made it through the door to outside just in the nick of time.

      I’m not a fan of pee pads as I said in this article. But I can see why they are so appealing. But as you’ve seen they usually just cause more mess than anything else. Keeping up with potty training while you’re out or at work can be tricky. But depending on your set up, where you live there are practical solutions.

      If you really want to get into the nitty gritty of potty training, check out my Potty Training Guide for German Shepherds. It’s packed with information that you’ll find useful.

      I hope this helps.
      Chat Soon,

  • Caroline Hudson

    Hi I’ve got some issues with my german shepard he does all hus mess outside during dsy in the yard but won’t stop phooing in the house every night and he will not phoo outside whilst walking him he is a year old and I’m pulling my hair out at the moment I hope u can help me .

    • Hi Caroline,

      Thanks for sharing your situation.

      I can imagine how frustrated you must be by now.

      I really recommend getting a copy of my Flawless Potty Training Guide for German Shepherds. It’s a fantastic potty training program and one that you can use to train a dog of any age.

      I’ve had great success with this method for over 10 years and many readers here at German Shepherd Corner have too.

      Here’s the link for you to check out what you’ll get.

      Flawless Potty Training Guide for German Shepherds.

      You’ll have direct access to me to help you work through the program which you won’t get anywhere else.

      Chat soon,

  • Allegra

    Gabriella, I just wanted to say a big thank you!!!

    After struggling for weeks I recently found your potty training guide. Mia just would not stop messing in the house and I wanted to pull my hair out. My BF had already started talking about giving Mia away. Obviously I was horrified!

    Mia’s been on your program for 10 days now and she’s learning fast. I never understood why other advice I got was not working. Now I know it’s not as simple as regular eating, trips outside often and treats. There’s a lot more to it.

    Now my BF is happy and Mia’s on her way to 100% reliable just like you said.

    Thanks again,

    • Hey Allegra!

      Thanks so much for stopping by to share your progress with Mia.

      Potty training can be frustrating when you don’t know the full picture. I’m so pleased Mia’s doing well and your BF is happy. Soon you’ll have a reliable Mia who knows messing inside is out of bounds.


      Chat soon,

  • Mari Romanack

    I am potty training a GS. He will be an inside dog but I do have an outside kennel run. Will I hinder the potty training if I occasionally put him in the kennel run during the day? I don’t mind him eliminating in the kennel but I also don’t want him to be delayed in training because of it.

    • Hi Mari,

      Thanks for your question.

      Essentially you’re adding an ‘extra step’ to his potty training. This shouldn’t be a problem, it might just take a little longer, depending on how quickly he learns. But I don’t think it’ll cause any noticeable delay in his training.

      Let me know if you have any other questions. And if you haven’t already, check out my potty training guide. I’ve had years of success with it and so have many readers here at German Shepherd Corner.

      Chat soon,

  • Hi Morgan!

    Thanks for sharing about your success so far. I’m very please that you’re winning with the potty training and that the guide is a help to you.

    If you’ve got questions, you have access to my direct email address in the guide. Just shoot me a mail, I’m happy to help.

    Chat soon,

  • Agnezka

    Thank you so much for this great information an your potty training guide! I purchased the guide a week ago and my puppy (5 months old) is doing much better now.

    I had this unreal expectation that I could potty train her in a week, because that’s what I read elsewhere. I feel so bad right now for putting pressure on her to be potty trained too soon.

    I thank you again, you have been a great help.


  • Clayton

    Hi Gabriella!

    I just wanted to say thanks so much for your potty training guide and for the advice in your email reply to me. We have followed exactly what you suggest in your guide and the whole family has pitched in to help out – even the kids!

    Our GSD Ally is so much better. She’s starting to learn what we expect from her but most importantly, we know what to expect too. So now potty training doesn’t seem insurmountable.

    I only wish we had found your guide sooner.

    Thanks again, we really do appreciate it.

    Clayton, Amanda, Jon, Kelly and Ally.

  • Dorice

    Your article and especially the potty training guide has filled in a lot of blanks for us when it comes to potty training our 4 month old puppy Tyson.

    I think we might have more work to do now because he’s been messing in the house since we got him at 10 weeks . But at least now we know what to do. All thanks to you Gabriella.

    We are so grateful!

  • Ciska

    Hi Gabriella,

    My husband an I are taking care of our son’s German Shepherd puppy he’s around 6 months old. Our son unexpectedly accepted another tour to the middle east and so Thumper is now living with us.

    We’ve been really stressed because our son said she is potty trained and she never messed in his house. But with us, it’s like she has never been potty trained.

    I was so confused and at my wits end. My husband went searching online and came across your guide. Now I understand why she is messing in our house. I would never have figured out what was going on ‘behind the scenes’ if it wasn’t for you.

    We’re working with her now and so far so good.

    Thanks so very much!

  • Candice

    Our 16 week old puppy Razor is doing very well on your potty training program!

    My boyfriend and I got Razor as an adoption, his previous owner didn’t want him anymore because he was messing in the house. I guess the guy thought Razor was going to potty train himself! LOL!

    Anyway, he’s with us now and doing great! Thanks so much for the detailed information!

    • Hi Candice,

      Well, all I can say it’s a win for Razor and a loss to his previous owner. Razor is much better off with 2 fantastic people like you and your boyfriend.

      You’ve got direct access to my email in the guide if you need any support.

      Chat soon,

  • Lindsey

    Hi! I have a 5 month old female GSD. I’m having the worst time potty training her. She stays in a kennel at night and during the day when I’m at work. I don’t keep food or water in her kennel but she constantly uses the bathroom in it and then it gets all over her. I have a divider up when she only has enough room to sit stand and lay. When I take her outside, no matter the time of day, she sniffs the entire time she’s outside but will never potty. It’s almost as if she is scared to go outside and as soon as she is put in her kennel she goes. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!!

    • Hi Lindsey,

      Thanks for your comment.

      So just a few things I noticed from the way you’ve described your situation…

      If you work from 9am to 5pm your pup is spending 8 hours in her kennel. Let’s say she’s out of her kennel from 6pm to 11pm that’s 5 hours. And while you’re asleep from say 12am to 7am which is another 7 hours inside her kennel. In all honestly that is a long time for your pup to be inside her kennel especially since there’s no room except to sit, stand and lie down. This could very well be the reason she’s difficult to potty train.

      Dog’s are context bound this means when they have learned a behavior they will keep doing it in that specific place, until the behavior is generalized through training. My dogs are context bound to go potty on the grass in our back yard and only in a specific area. All 3 go there to use their toilet without fail. Not one of them has ever used the paved areas to do their business, although they have free access to it. That’s because they are context bound, they were taught that.

      So your pup is context bound to doing her business in her kennel because she spends so much time there. She has nowhere else to go when you’re at work or sleeping so she uses the toilet in her kennel. Trying to potty train her in the short time she’s out of her kennel is setting her and yourself up for failure.

      Another factor to consider is that your pup is stress peeing and pooping. This coud be a direct consequence of spending too much time couped up in her kennel.

      Perhaps you should consider hiring a dog walker to pop in and take your pup for a walk twice a day. Or you could ask a family member to help you out is that’s possible.

      Remember dogs are social animals and they need interaction, they become stressed if they are in isolation too long. If you make these changes and follow a proper potty training program, I think you see immediate results. You can check out the program I put together. For over 10 years I’ve potty trained all my dogs using this method.

      All the best.


  • Annie Frances

    I really want to get a German Shepherd puppy for my birthday, but I’m a little scared of potty training him. I appreciate the time span you provided for how long they can hold their bladder and at what age. That will be very useful when I finally get my German Shepherd. Thanks!

    • Hi Annie,

      Getting a new puppy is so exciting! And the most trying too. Potty training is not as difficult as people make it out to be. If you’re following a good program, you’re patient and you keep setting your pup up for success you’ll hit the ball out of the park! You might want to consider getting a copy of the potty training program I’ve used for years to train my pups successfully.

      Here’s a link if you want to have look.

      All the best! And feel free to ask more questions as you go.


  • Becky

    Hello there,
    My gsd is 16 weeks old she gets to pee and poo outside she wines to go out or noses the door knob plenty of praises when she goes but more often then not she cones in the house and pees and pops again I mean I don’t get it its like she pinch’s it off and finished inside I’m so frustrated not that I’ll let her see it. I have potty train more puppies then I can count on my life I don’t know what to do here

    • Hi Becky!

      Thanks for sharing your situation here.

      What you’re experiencing is not uncommon during potty training trials. As you’re experiencing now, all pup’s have different personalities and some are easier to potty train than others. The key is to get them to be 100% reliable when it comes to doing their business.

      You might want to consider getting a copy of my potty training guide. I’ve had much success over the years using this method and many of the readers on my blog have too.

      You can get a copy by following this link.

      If you have any questions, my email address is in the guide, you can contact me directly.

      All the best!

  • Brilliantly explained! I am sending a friend who is considering a GSD puppy this article right now.

    • Hi GSD Len!

      Thanks for the compliment! I feel honored that you’d send someone you know to read an article on my website! I’ve checked out your site – Aura is a beaut! I have great respect for breeders who breed their dogs in the manner you did with Aura. There are so many breeders who breed their pairs over and over and over again, just because it “makes financial sense” to them. Rather than quitting while they’re ahead and putting the needs of their dogs and puppies first. The German Shepherd community needs more breeders with your mindset and less of the breeders that breed purely for financial gain.

      If you’re interested in joining the Breeder Directory here on German Shepherd Corner, please get in touch with me here: rosemary[at]

    • Thanks! I’ll send you an email right now.

      Aura was amazing. I got her a laprascopic spay last year. She retired young. Breeding was a great experience. My blog is horribly formatted- I’ll have to fix it. In there is full documentation of all 3 pregnancies, births, and daily puppy updates! Somewhere! hehe

    • Denise

      What about when you have to work??

    • Hi Denise,

      Thank you for your question.

      This is a very common situation that needs juggling during the potty training phase. There are several solutions you can consider…

      If your pup or dog is older and had all their vaccinations, you could enroll them in a doggy daycare.

      If your pup is still too young to have had all their vaccinations you could enlist the services of a dog walker who will visit regularly during the day to let your puppy out for a potty break and some human contact. Or perhaps you have a neighbor or family member that can pop in to do the same.

      Or you could take some vacation time from work and be at home with your puppy until they are a little older and then pick on of the above options to carry you through until your pup is 100% reliably potty trained.

      Hope this helps.

  • Kristine

    My family and i have just bought an 8 week old gsp she is adorable and very responsive we have had her for 2 days and she knows to sit and come though she does not always listen .. i am in the process of house training her so i look forward to reading this download. I have small children so i am also teaching her not to jump or rush the little ones. My question is it to much to teach more than one thing at a time?

    • Hi Kristine!

      In my opinion it’s not a problem to work on more than one command or behavior at the same time.

      So what I suggest is 3 or 4 short training sessions throughout the day. Each session no more than 5 to 8 minutes. You’ll quickly notice when your pup checks out of the session, at that point you’ve trained too long. I always say quit while you’re ahead in each session.

      Chances are she’s not responding to commands every time because she’ll need time to generalize the behavior. So in other words teach her the command in different parts of the house. For example starting in the kitchen and once she has that nailed, then move to the lounge or another area.

      Learning not to rush children and even adults is a good behavior to teach from a young age. The last thing you want is a 40lbs German Shepherd rushing at visitors. So keep at it. This behavior you can reinforce each time the situation arises while the other behaviors you can reinforce in structured training sessions.

      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Chat soon.

  • Michelle

    Hi every time I try to download ur potty training guy it says invalid email. I’ve used to different and still the same.

    Many thanks

    • Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      I’ve just tested it and it seems to be working fine.

      Try clearing the cookies and cache of your browser and give it another go.

      If you’re still having a hard time, let me know.


  • Amber

    Hi, I’d love to download your guide for my Shepard pup but the link keeps saying my email is invalid.

    • Hi Amber!

      Thanks for letting me know there was an issue. I’ve managed to fix the problem and did a test just to make sure.

      It should work now, just clear the cookies from your browser and try again – all should be good. 🙂

      Drop a comment here if there’s still a gremlin wreaking havoc!

      Sorry for the inconvenience 🙁

  • Johnny

    Hi Gabriella,

    I can’t thank you enough for this guide! It has been instrumental in helping us potty train our German Shepherd puppy Tequila.

    She came to live with us at 4 weeks old. I know that’s so young but she was abandoned and had nowhere to go. My wife and I were only planning on fostering her until she was old enough to go to a good home. But it was a “failed foster”. We decided to keep her!

    Because she was so young she didn’t have the opportunity to learn from her mom about keeping the den area clean – just like you mentioned in this post. I’m not sure if this made it tougher for her to learn.

    Tequila is our first dog and we had no clue on what to do and where to start. I found so much information out there which just didn’t seem right. Mostly all about showing your dog “who’s the boss” and just going out to eliminate every hour. We tried everything and nothing worked.

    Then I found you guide and we started implementing it immediately. And it’s been a great success! You guide is not just a bunch of steps, you’ve actually helped us understand Tequila better. It’s the best 7 bucks I’ve spent in a while!

    Tequila is now 24 weeks old and fully potty trained. She’s totally reliable and lets us know by pawing us that she wants to go outside. We didn’t teach her the pawing thing, she decided to do that all on her own!

    Thank you so much!

    Johnny, Desire and Tequila 🙂

    • Hi Johnny!

      Thanks for sharing your experience here!

      Raising a puppy from 4 weeks is super tough and since this was your first go at even having a dog, I’d say you and your wife are naturals! And of course Tequila is a very lucky girl!

      Thanks for the compliment on the guide, I want it to be as accessible to people as possible. One of the reasons is something you touched on in your comment…

      There’s so much junk information out there and a lot of it is downright dangerous. And worst of all, that kind of information is always free. So I want to put stuff out there that anyone can afford and keep people away from the junk.

      I love the pawing signal Tequila gives! Each of mine have their own signal too. Charley paces loudly, Zè whines quietly and Lexi nudges my leg.

      All the best!


  • Peter King

    Our puppy Buster has been on your potty training program for almost 4 weeks and just yesterday he started giving us a signal when he wants to go outside to eliminate. He might have been giving the signal for a while but my wife was the one who noticed it yesterday for the first time.

    She took him out and he did #1 and #2 right away, in the designated spot! We’re so happy about this!

    Thank you for the detailed advice you provide on your website. It’s been very helpful for us and has made us understand Buster much better.

    Peter King

    • Hi Peter!

      Thanks for sharing your success with Buster! I’m please the guide has been helpful for you. 🙂

      I thinks it’s neat how they always figure out their own signal to let you know it’s time to go outside. It just goes to show how intelligent they are!

  • Nic

    It wont let me download theguide ?

    • Hi Nic,

      Thanks for letting me know, I’ll have a look into that. In the meantime, I’ll send you an email with the guide. 🙂

  • Donna

    We’ve been following your potty training guide for Tango our one year old rescue german shepherd. She’s been with us for 10 days and we started with you potty training after having her for 3 days. It’s working great so far. She’s only had mishaps 3 times, but that’s because we weren’t paying attention.

    What I want to know is, if she’s not messed in the house for 7 days does that mean she’s got it and understands that inside is out of bounds?

    • Hi Donna,

      Thanks for stopping by and for your question.

      I’m pleased to hear that Tango is getting on well with potty training! She’s a lucky dog to have been rescued by such a committed family 🙂

      By now, Tango should be eliminating outside on cue but might still have accidents inside if you’re not paying attention. And even if you’re super conscientious you can expect some mishaps. To make sure the behavior is set, I suggest sticking with it for at least another 3 weeks. It might seem tedious but the alternative is a lifetime of cleaning up after your dog if she only half trained.

      All the best with Tango 🙂

  • Albert


    I just downloaded your potty training program. I haven’t read all of it yet but had a quick skim. I’m so excited!

    My wife and I are going to start your program with Poppy tonight. She’s our 14 week old German Shepherd puppy. I love your ideas in the book. We both work so our dog walker will come in handy with implementing your program.

    Thank you so much.

    • Hi Al,

      I’m pleased you’re excited after downloading the program. Believe me, it works! Just be consistent and persistent and the results will come. Perhaps have your dog walker read through it too so you’re all on the same page about what should happen.

      I’d love to hear your comments and results, so come back and let me know.

      All the best to you and Poppy!

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