How to Train a German Shepherd Puppy to Poop Outside

Medium
2-6 Months
General

Introduction

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.

Defining Tasks

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.

Getting Started

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.

The Crate Training Method

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Step
1
Introduce the crate
To begin, introduce your puppy to the crate in a fun way. Leave the door to the crate open at all times and when your puppy is not looking, sprinkle treats in front of and inside the crate. Do this often, and allow your puppy to explore the crate to find the treats. When your puppy is comfortable going inside the crate to eat the treats, then stuff a hollow chew toy, such as a Kong, with moist kibble or treats, and when your puppy goes into the crate to eat the sprinkled treats, place the stuffed toy inside with your puppy and close the door behind your puppy while he is eating the food out of the Kong. When your puppy is finished, open the door again. Do this until your puppy seems comfortable inside the crate.
Step
2
Increase the time
When your puppy is comfortable being inside the crate while he eats the food out of the hollow chew toy, then gradually increase the amount of time that your puppy is in the crate with the door closed. To do this, keep the door closed after your puppy has finished eating the treats out of the Kong. Whenever he is quiet, sprinkle more treats into the crate. After a few minutes have gone by then open the door again when he is quiet. Increase the amount of time that you leave your puppy in the crate for as he improves. When you have increased that time, then also increase the amount of time that passes between treat sprinkles. Do this until your puppy will remain in his crate contentedly, without you nearby, for up to one and a half hours.
Step
3
Take him outside
When your puppy can remain in the crate, without being afraid, for one and a half hours, then begin the process of potty training him using the crate. To begin, place him in the crate with interesting toys to entertain himself with. After one and half hours goes by, then take him outside on a leash to go potty. When he begins to go, calmly tell him "Go Potty", and when he finishes praise him and offer him three small treats, one at a time. You can also use your puppy's kibble as treats.
Step
4
Give supervised free time
If your puppy eliminates outside, then bring him back inside afterwards and give your puppy forty-five minutes of supervised free time in your home. This can be relaxation time, a training session, or playtime. After forty-five minutes put your puppy back into his crate until the one and a half hour mark comes and it is time to take him to go potty outside again. This process ensures that your puppy is only free while his bladder and bowels are empty so that he will not eliminate inside your home.
Step
5
Return to the crate
If your puppy does not eliminate when you take him outside, then bring him back inside and place him back into the crate for thirty more minutes. After thirty minutes has passed, take him back outside to try again. Repeat this process until you puppy eliminates outside. Once your puppy has eliminated outside then he can have the forty-five minutes of free time inside.
Step
6
Repeat
Continue this process until your puppy is no longer going to the bathroom inside your home, and will eliminate outside quickly when told to "Go potty". When both of these things are happening, then you can gradually increase the amount of time between potty breaks to two hours. Practice potty training with two hours between potty breaks for at least two more weeks, then if your puppy is still doing well, you can increase the amount of time between potty breaks to two and a half or three hours.
Step
7
Increase free time
Every time that you increase the amount of time between potty breaks by thirty minutes, also increase the amount of free time that your puppy is given after eliminating outside by fifteen minutes. Continue to increase the amount of free time by fifteen minute increments until your puppy is able to remain free for the entire time between potty breaks without having any accidents in your home. If your puppy has an accident in your home, then reduce the free time by thirty minutes and practice at that amount for at least two more weeks before trying to increase it again.
Step
8
Maximum holding times
The maximum amount of hours that your puppy can hold his bladder for during the day is the number of months that your puppy is old plus one. For example, if your puppy is three months old then the longest that your puppy is able to physically hold his bladder for is four hours. If you force your puppy to hold his bladder for any longer than that amount of time, you will be forcing your puppy to eliminate inside even if he is fully potty trained, and the more accidents that he has inside or in his crate, the less effective potty training will be, especially when using the crate for potty training. When your puppy will hold his bladder until you take him to go potty or will alert you whenever he needs to go potty, then your puppy is potty trained. The amount of time that he can hold his bladder for will increase as he ages, until it finally reaches eight hours for most adult dogs.
Recommend training method?

The Tethering Method

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Step
1
Introduce a leash
To begin, introduce your German Shepherd puppy to the leash by showing him the leash and praising him and offering him a reward every time that he sniffs it or touches it. When he is comfortable with that, then attach the leash to his collar and let him drag the loose leash around the house until he is comfortable having it attached also. Only allow him to drag the leash while you are supervising him though, for safety reasons. If your puppy is already completely comfortable being attached to the leash then you can skip this step.
Step
2
Attach yourself to the leash
When your puppy is comfortable with the leash being attached, then attach the handle end of the leash to your person, making sure that there is enough slack in the leash for your puppy to lay down next to you while you are standing.
Step
3
Encourage following
With your puppy attached to you on the leash, encourage your puppy to follow you whenever you walk away. Praise him and reward him with a treat when he does this, until he learns to stay with you whenever you move. Whenever you sit down, encourage him to lay down and when he does praise him and offer him a treat. If he begins to lay down without you having to tell him then also praise him and reward him with a treat.
Step
4
Offer toys
When you are sitting or standing somewhere for ten minutes or longer, or know that it will be ten minutes or longer, then offer your puppy an interesting toy to chew on or play with. Good choices are food-stuffed hollow chew toys, such as Kongs, or kibble-stuffed dog puzzle toys. Offering your puppy chew toys will encourage your puppy to chew only on appropriate items while also preventing barking and whining habits from development.
Step
5
Pay attention
While your puppy is attached to you, pay careful attention to any signals that he needs to go potty. Such signals might include: whining, sniffing the ground, circling, attempting to sneak away, barking for attention, pawing at you, lifting his leg, and squatting. If you see any of these signs quickly get your puppy's attention without frightening him and rush him outside to go potty there. Do this quickly because once he begins to shows these signs he will need to eliminate right away. When he starts to go potty outside, tell him "go potty" and praise him. When he finishes going, offer him five tiny treats, one at a time. This will encourage him to eliminate outside rather than inside in the future.
Step
6
Take outside often
In addition to taking your puppy outside whenever he shows signs of needing to go, also take him out frequently, before he shows any signs. The more times that your puppy eliminates outside and avoids eliminating inside, the faster he will learn to only go potty while he is outside. During the day, the maximum amount of time that your puppy can hold his bladder for is his age in months plus one. So if your puppy is three months old, he will be able to hold his bladder for a maximum of four hours. Until your puppy learns to only eliminate outside, he will need to go outside more frequently than that though. Start by taking your puppy outside every one and a half hours. When he is no longer having any accidents in the house, then you can gradually increase that time. Never exceed his maximum bladder capacity time though.
Step
7
Take outside after activities
Your puppy's body has certain rhythms that effect when he needs to go to the bathroom. In addition to needing to go outside after a certain amount of time has passed, he will also need to use the potty right after finishing certain activities. Take him outside five to ten minutes after he finishes eating his meals. He will probably also need to poop during this outing so be sure to give him enough opportunity to go potty, and then reward him with treats after he goes. Other times that he will need to go include: when he wakes up in the morning or wakes up from a long nap, whenever he gets very excited, such as when a family member arrives home, right after physical or mental exercise, including training sessions and play times where he was moving a lot, and after drinking large amounts of water.
Step
8
Add smells
By keeping your puppy tethered to yourself with a leash at all times you can prevent him from sneaking away to poop inside. By taking him outside frequently and whenever he indicates that he needs to go, you can often succeed in getting him to poop outside, and then you can reward him for it so that he will repeat it in the future. But if he still will not poop outside, there are a couple of additional things that you can try. Choose an area where you would like for your puppy to poop, preferably an area where he tends to be comfortable peeing. In that area leave one of his poops. When it is time for him to 'go potty', walk him over to that area and let him sniff the poop. The smell of the poop should encourage him to go potty. If you have another dog that you know is free from any parasitic worms, then you can also leave one of that dog's poops in the area. The smell of another dogs' poop often works even better for some puppies.
Step
9
Spray attractant
If your puppy still will not poop, even after smelling the poop, then purchase a spray designed to encourage dogs to eliminate. You can purchase this spray at most large pet stores or online. Right before you walk your puppy to the area that you wish for him to eliminate in, apply the spray to the ground, then walk him over and let him sniff the sprayed area. When he goes, praise him enthusiastically and offer him seven small treats, one at a time. Make a really big deal of him going so that he feels happy, but be careful not to frighten him while doing this.
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The Timing Method

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Step
1
Watch for signs
To begin, pay careful attention to your dog whenever he is free in your home. Watch for signs that he needs to go to the bathroom, including: sniffing, circling, whining, barking to get your attention, pawing at you, or sneaking away from you. Whenever your puppy does these things, take him outside to go potty with a leash.
Step
2
Take him after activities
Your puppy will need to eliminate after doing certain activities. It is important to take him outside to go potty right after these things occur. He will need to go outside five to ten minutes after he finishes eating. He will likely need to poop during this outing.. He will need to go outside right after waking up from long periods of sleeping, including daytime naps. He will need to go outside after periods of excitement, such as a family member's arrival home. He will also need to go outside after physical and mental exercise, including training sessions and play time.
Step
3
Take him often
Puppies cannot hold their bladders as long as adult dogs can. During the day, your puppy is only able to hold his bladder for the number of hours that he is in months of age, plus one. So if your puppy is two months old, the maximum amount of time that he can hold his bladder for is three hours. This number only applies once your puppy understands that he should eliminate only outside, before then the number is even less. Your puppy is also not able to wait to poop for any longer than five to ten minutes after he first feels the urge to go. For these reasons, you need to take your puppy outside on a leash to go potty every one and a half to two hours until he understands that he is supposed to only eliminate outside. After he understands that, then he will need to be taken outside whenever he indicates that he needs to go, as well as every three to five hours, depending on the age of your puppy.
Step
4
Keep it boring
Whenever you take your puppy outside to go potty, take him on a leash, and either slowly walk him around the yard while letting him sniff the ground so that he can find a spot to eliminate, or walk him to a single location that you would prefer for him to always go at, and stand still while you let him sniff the ground around you. It is important to keep the outings boring and to the point, so that he will not become distracted from why he is outside. It is also important to take him outside on a leash rather than giving him unsupervised freedom in your entire yard, so that he will remain focused on eliminating and not begin to play and forget why he is outside. It is also important so that you will know when he has eliminated, and will be able to praise and reward him, which will help him to learn.
Step
5
Add command
When you walk your puppy to where you would like for him to eliminate, either anywhere in your yard or a specific location, then tell him "Go Potty" while he sniffs the ground. Eventually he will begin to associate the command with the action of using the bathroom and will try to go when you tell him to "Go Potty".
Step
6
Reward
Right after your puppy finishes eliminating, praise him excitedly and offer him five small treats, one at a time. Doing this will motivate him to eliminate outside rather than inside your home because he receives treats only for eliminating outside.
Step
7
Encourage pooping
If you are struggling to get your puppy to poop outside, then leave one of his previous poops in the yard, or if he has eliminated inside the house, move that poop to the spot outside. When you take your puppy outside, take him over to the poop and allow him to sniff it. The smell of the poop will encourage him to go there. If you have another dog that you know is free of worms, then you can also use his poop to encourage your puppy to eliminate outside. The smell of another dog's poop sometimes works even better, but only do this if you know that that dog is free from any parasites. Reward your puppy especially well after he poops outside.
Step
8
Use spray
If your puppy still will not poop outside when he smells the poop there, then purchase a pet spray designed for encouraging elimination. You can buy such a spray at most large pet stores or online. Simply spray the spray onto the ground where you would like for your puppy to poop right before you walk him to that area. When he goes, then reward him extra well with treats and praise.
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