If you just arrived home with an adorable German Shepherd puppy that does not understand yet that he is supposed to go to the potty outside, then you might be dreaming of the days when he will quickly eliminate outside and stop pooping on your living room rug. There are few dog training lessons as important and rewarding as potty training. If your dog has not yet learned that lesson, then there are also few behaviors as frustrating as a dog that keeps going to the bathroom inside your home.
Thankfully, German Shepherds are typically very intelligent dogs, and your little guy or girl probably really desires to please you. Your puppy likely just needs to be taught where to go potty. After all, your living room rug and the grassy patch outside do not look very different to him.
There is no easier time to teach a dog than when he is a puppy. Because your German Shepherd will grow up to be a large dog it is especially important that you teach him now to go potty outside. Because he will be a large dog, teaching him to use something like a puppy pee pad is probably not a great idea. He will need to learn to go potty outside on the leash, and it will be much easier to teach him if you start that way.
Because your dog is intelligent, he will likely come up with a way to alert you whenever he needs to go to the potty, once he has learned to only eliminate outside. This might include pawing at you, whining, barking at you, nudging you, running to the door, sitting by the door, or anything else that he can think of. You can respond to the signal that he chooses or you can teach him to ring a bell whenever he needs to go outside.
Expect this process to take anywhere between two and six months to train. The speed will depend partially on your dog's own temperament, partially on your own consistency and prevention of accidents, and partially on your dog's history related to potty training. If your dog was forced to eliminate inside a crate, or in the same area where he ate and slept in a whelping box, then it might take him longer to learn this. Do not be discouraged--with vigilance on your part, your puppy should still be able to learn. It just might take him longer.
If you are having a very hard time, despite careful attention and a strict schedule on your part, then consider consulting your vet to rule out any medical issues that could be causing problems, such as a urinary tract infection that makes it difficult for your puppy to hold his bladder, or a condition that makes it painful for your puppy to poop.
The more times that your puppy successfully eliminates outside and is rewarded, and the fewer times that your puppy has an accident inside, the quicker the training will go. For every accident that your puppy has inside, it will take your puppy several successful times of eliminating outside for him to progress, so it is especially important that you prevent accidents from occurring inside by following the training as closely as possible, and by being attentive to your puppy's signals that he needs to go potty. Accidents will probably happen at some point though, when they do, remember that your puppy does not understand yet, and be encouraged that he will eventually learn with your help. Your puppy will not be a puppy forever so enjoy the cuteness while he is young. Before you know it he will be a large, beautiful, fully potty trained adult.
To get started you will need lots of small treats. You can also use your puppy's normal dog food as treats. You will need a leash to take your puppy outside with, and to attach your puppy to yourself with if you are using the 'Tethering' method. You will need interesting toys to give to your puppy while he is inside your home. Great toys to use are hollow, stuffed chew toys, such as Kongs that have been stuffed with moistened kibble and frozen overnight, or dog puzzle toys filled with dog food. If you are using the 'Crate Training' method then you will need a crate that is small enough that your puppy cannot eliminate in one end and stand in the other end to avoid it, but one that is still large enough that your puppy can stand up and comfortably turn around and lay down. You can also purchase a larger crate and use a crate divider to make the crate temporarily small enough. If your puppy has an especially hard time pooping while outside, then you will also need a scented spray designed to encourage your puppy to poop. This spray can be purchased online or at most large pet stores. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, you will need patience, optimism, alertness, and perseverance.