Housebreaking a Puppy: 12 Tips for German Shepherd Puppy Potty Training

Updated on August 22, 2019
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lincolnk has experience successfully potty training his puppy and enjoys sharing tips with new dog owners.

Top tips for potty training puppies.
Top tips for potty training puppies. | Source

12 Tips for Potty Training a Puppy

Afraid to take an eye off your new puppy? Hoping that your carpets won't be ruined and your house won't stink? If you do your part, you can train your puppy quickly and successfully. I learned the hard way, but you can save your rugs by incorporating these methods:

  1. Designate a Location
  2. Create a Schedule
  3. Crate Train
  4. Help Them Succeed
  5. Note Distractions
  6. Understand Normal Behavior
  7. Choose a Command
  8. Read Body Language
  9. Reward Them
  10. Let Them Enjoy Being Outside
  11. Keep Track of the Treats
  12. Too Much Isn't a Thing

How Long Does It Take to Potty Train a Puppy?

Most puppies can learn to be fully potty trained by 4 months of age. If you want your dog to go to the bathroom indoors, paper train it—but that's not what this article is about. If you want your dog to be housebroken, follow these 12 tips for successful potty training.

The Hour-to-Month Rule

The rule of thumb is that a puppy can hold its bladder for 1 hour per month of age. So, a 2-month-old puppy, for example, can hold it for a maximum of 2 hours. This does not mean a 10-month-old can hold it for 10 hours!

Tip 1: Designate a Location

Decide where your puppy will go potty regularly. Yes, this is your choice. Pick an area and keep your puppy there. Once it goes in its corner of the yard, it can explore.

Tip 2: Create a Schedule

Always take your puppy outside after meals. I have fixed feeding times for my dogs, which is the only time food is available. Your puppy can adjust to eating on your schedule, and this lets you designate specific times when you will definitely be taking them out to potty. If your puppy is under 3 months of age, free-feeding them is still recommended. You should be offering 3 meals a day to puppies 3 to 6 months of age.

Tip 3: Crate Train

Crate train your puppy. Dogs don't like to potty in their living space. You can make expensive mistakes when buying a dog crate and a bed: Your puppy will go to the bathroom in its crate if it is too big.

The bottom of the crate needs to be a solid pan, and the bed should be machine washable and fast-drying. Big, thick pillows are the wrong choice and may simply get destroyed when boredom strikes.

Tip 4: Help Them Succeed

Always take your puppy outside when it wakes up or when you let it out of the crate to prevent accidents.

Video: How to Potty Train a Puppy

Tip 5: Note Distractions

Excitement distracts your puppy from giving signals that it has to go. When something unusual or distracting is occurring, take your puppy out more often.

Tip 6: Understand Normal Behavior

When your puppy whines, take it outside—unless it's in the crate. Whining in the crate usually means, "Let me out!" If your puppy has been crated for several hours, it likely is whining because it needs to potty.

Tip 7: Choose a Command

Teach your dog a command like "go potty." You will not regret it. It's tremendously helpful to use a command in the rain, at unfamiliar places, or when there is a lot of distractions.

Tip 8: Read Body Language

Learn your puppy's signals that it's about to go: sniffing, circling, or walking oddly are strong indications.

Tip 9: Reward Them

Reward your puppy with praise when it goes outside in the correct location. Never punish or scold—this will only lead to behavioral issues and more accidents, like poop-eating, anxious urination in the house, etc.


You should keep water down for your puppy overnight, especially for dogs that are 6 months and under. Young animals are more susceptible to dehydration.

What goes in, must come out—this goes for treats, too.
What goes in, must come out—this goes for treats, too. | Source

Tip 10: Let Them Enjoy Being Outside

Let your puppy enjoy being outside for a little while after going potty. If you always take your puppy inside as soon as it goes, you'll teach it to delay going for as long as possible so it can stay outside.

Tip 11: Keep Track of the Treats

Remember that what goes into your puppy must eventually come out, so if it eats something between meals—including a lot of treats—adjust the potty schedule.

Tip 12: Too Much Isn't a Thing

You can't take a puppy outside too much. If in doubt, take it out!

How long did it take for you to potty train your puppy?

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Questions & Answers

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      • profile image


        12 days ago

        Hey, I am a first time pet owner and I have 3 months old german shepherd, I have been trying to potty train him for a while now bt doesn’t seem to work, I take him outside 3 times a day but he doesn’t do his business there and as soon as we return he pees and poops on the carpet, I live on 2nd floor apartment and it is difficult to take him out quickly when he shows some signs, any advice would be really helpful.

      • profile image

        Ronald Pisani 

        21 months ago

        The problem is it is very hard to keep watching her all the time and if I leave her in the yard alone, she stays quiet and does not do her thing (probably she does not like it or maybe she thinks it is a punishment) and when I take her back inside she will immediately pee

      • profile image


        2 years ago

        hi what is meat tenderizer?

      • profile image

        Joann Smith 

        2 years ago

        Lundy Seabolt,

        I had a dog years ago that also ate her own poop.I also have a three

        month old German Shepard now. She had started to eat her poop.I remembered that years ago when this happened my vet told me to sprinkle a little meat tenderizer in her food. I tried it and it works. I did it

        for about four days. I've not seen her do it anymore. You may need to do it a little longer. Hope this helps.

      • Heather Glasgow profile image

        Heather Glasgow 

        3 years ago

        I am at my wits end. I have had my lil chewey for 5 months and he is a pain in my ass....with that being said I love him. I need help and more tips I have used everything and try to keep him on schedule but he thinks after he goes pee and comes in it is time to crap in the house how do I break this it does not even matter if I keep him out for hours...... Some one HELP!

      • profile image


        3 years ago

        I have a 12 week old German Shepherd ....and she stays in the crate and is on a very tight schedule...I've had a week and not one time has she used the rest room in her crate as soon as I take her out the crate she goes out to potty if she doesn't potty she goes right back in the crate if she does potty then she gets to come in for free time please I'm eating pie and after she eats only take her back out if she doesn't potty she goes right back into the car like I said she's on a pretty tight schedule and it's been working so far she is very very smart!!! You have to start as soon as you bring them home

      • profile image

        Lundy seabolt 

        4 years ago

        Any help would be nice. I have a german sheapared puppy he's 9 weeks old. I take him out, and he will go out by his self and still wants to potty in the house in the middle of the night he has no food or drink after 8:00pm. And this is gross and I hate it but I have even caught him eating his poop. Yes I correct on him that but it don't seem to help. Any advice would be helpful.

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        All these are helpful hints but what type of discipline do you use when they continue to go potty in your house? I have a Golden Shepard which is Golden Retriever/German Shepard. She is 4 1/2 months old and continues to go potty but only in one certain area which is the door to the back yard. We try to take her out every half hour and I make sure she has gone to the bathroom then 5 minutes later I walk in the room and she has pee'd again. Some days she does really good with no mistakes in the house but most days it's the other way around. We praise her when she potty's outside and when she has a day without any mistakes she gets a special treat. I'm going out of my mind and I'm not sure where to go from here. Does anyone have any suggestions?

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        Nice article

        In my experience I've found that that German shepherds tend to learn a lot quicker than most other breeds and have even seen some potty trained in a little as a week.

        I have recently published an article on puppy potty training. You should take a look when you get a chance:

      • profile image


        9 years ago

        It's hard to say no to getting a puppy, and then the first night, you realize it's too late. Thanks for the advice. These puppy pictures are awesome.


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