How to Train a German Shepherd to Not Pee in the House

Medium
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You are walking through your house and suddenly you step in something wet. You groan, “Not again!” Your German Shepherd has forgotten his manners again and peed inside the house. You scold him and throw him outside, but nothing seems to be working. You find yourself scrubbing your carpet again anyway. Training your German Shepherd not to pee in the house may be difficult, but it is crucial for a good relationship with your dog. And for the health of your floor.

Defining Tasks

In general, German Shepherds who weren’t housebroken as puppies tend to be stubborn during the house training process. If they weren’t trained at all as puppies, they can become dominant and disobedient. You want to begin training your Shepherd to pee outside, and follow commands in general, as soon as you bring him home. It may take a while to break your dog’s bad habits, but with patience and consistent training you can create good manners in your German Shepherd.

Getting Started

Get ready to be patient and pay close attention to the signals your German Shepherd sends to you. Depending on the method you choose, you will need several things, including:

  • Good training treats
  • A comfy dog crate
  • A bell

You should also choose a designated potty spot in your yard. Make sure your dog always goes to the bathroom in the same spot. This teaches your German Shepherd that he can’t pee wherever he wants.

The Crate Method

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Step
1
Buy the right sized crate
You want to get a crate that is large enough for your German Shepherd to turn around and stretch in, but not so big that he can pee in the corner without messing up his bedding. Get some comfortable, machine-washable bedding to cover the entire floor of the crate.
Step
2
Crate train your German Shepherd
In the beginning, you want to get your German Shepherd used to sleeping in the crate at night. If your dog is hesitant to use the crate, work with him over a few days by rewarding him for entering the crate and staying in it without whining.
Step
3
Take your dog directly from the crate to his potty area
Keep your dog inside his crate when you can’t keep your eye on him for the first few weeks. When you let him out of the crate, take him directly outside and keep him in his potty spot until he goes to the bathroom.
Step
4
Reward good behavior
Give your German Shepherd two or three good, high-value treats and lots of praise when he goes to the bathroom in the right spot. Then let him explore the yard for a while before bringing him back inside.
Step
5
Transition your dog out of the crate
As your dog becomes accustomed to peeing outside, you can transition him to not staying in the crate all the time. The final step is to let your dog sleep outside the crate. It make take a few weeks of consistent reinforcement of the potty spot to feel secure in making that change with your German Shepherd.
Recommend training method?

The Schedule Method

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Step
1
Establish fixed feeding times
Another way to train your German Shepherd to pee outside is to set a fixed feeding schedule. Food should only be available to your dog during feeding times and training. This way you can manage when your dog should need to go outside.
Step
2
Always take your German Shepherd outside after feeding
As soon as your dog finishes eating his food, take him out into the yard to his designated potty spot. Just as with crate training, you should keep him in the area until he does his business.
Step
3
Give your dog some love
Once your dog goes to the bathroom, give him some yummy treats and some praise. It’s best to stay outside with your dog for a little while after he goes. Otherwise, he will learn to delay going potty for as long as possible to get some more outside time.
Step
4
Roll with the punches
If something happens to affect your German Shepherd’s feeding schedule, be sure to adjust his outside time to match. While you should give lots of treats during training, keep in mind that what goes in, must come out and take him to his potty spot when you're done.
Step
5
Be patient
It will take time for your dog to adjust to the feeding and potty schedule. Have lots of patience and remember not to scold your dog when he goes in the house. Reward-based training is much more effective. Instead, calmly but firmly tell your dog “no” and have him watch you clean up the mess. Over time, your dog will learn not to pee in the house.
Recommend training method?

The Bell Method

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Step
1
Set up a bell
Designate a specific door you will always take your German Shepherd through when it is time to go potty and set up a small bell near this door.
Step
2
Ring the bell
Every time you take your dog out to go potty, ring the bell and take your dog to his designated potty spot. After a few days, your dog will begin to associate the sound of the bell with going outside to go to the bathroom.
Step
3
Give good rewards for good behavior
Keep your dog in your chosen spot until he goes to the bathroom and then give him several really good treats. Then let him roam around your yard for a little while so he doesn’t connect going to the bathroom with being hustled back into the house.
Step
4
Encourage your dog to ring the bell
After a couple of weeks, begin asking your dog to ring the bell before you take him outside. Encourage him to use his nose or paw to tap the bell and then reward him by taking him outside.
Step
5
Stay alert for telling behaviors
As you progress, it is important to keep an eye out for behaviors that indicate your German Shepherd needs to go outside. This may include actions such as circling, sitting by the door, or pawing at things. If it seems like your dog needs to go outside, take him to ring the bell first.
Step
6
Listen for the bell
German Shepherds are smart dogs. In no time, your dog should start ringing the bell without you prompting him. Whenever you hear the bell, make sure you take your dog outside right away and give him praise for giving you a heads up for potty time.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Khaleesi
AnimalBreed object
3 Months
-1 found helpful
Question
-1 found helpful
Khaleesi
AnimalBreed object
3 Months

I’ve tried taking her out every hour. Limit her food and water intake. She’s been crate bound at night. During the day choose to put her in a big crate at nap time or run loose in the kitchen. She will poop in her cage and pee. I scold her and clean it up. She just peed in it and then laid in it. I don’t know why. It’s like she’s not catching on. I’ve been doing this for over a month

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
674 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sacanna, For a crate to be effective it needs to be large enough for the dog to lay down, turn around and stand, but no larger. If it is large enough for the dog to pee in one end and stand on the other end away from it it won't utilize a dog's natural desire to hold their pee in a confined space. Also, the area should be anything absorbent in the crate, including a soft bed or towel. Anything absorbent will also encourage peeing. If you need something for Kaleesi to lay on in the crate use something like www.primopads.com Clean the crate thoroughly with an enzymatic pet cleaner. The cleaner must contain enzymes to fully remove the smell for a dog's sensitive nose. Any remaining smell will encourage peeing and pooping in that spot again. Look on the cleaner bottle for the word enzyme or enzymatic somewhere. Even bleach will leave the smell, but many pet stores, stores like Walmart, or Amazon carry enzymatic pet cleaners. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

we have an 8 week old shepard who is doing well with the crate training. She is in small crate which she is outgrowing already!! She is peeing on the floor when we leave the room. Working on that. We are going to try the bell training

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Question
Tango and Sebastian
AnimalBreed object
3 Years
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Question
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Tango and Sebastian
AnimalBreed object
3 Years

I have 2 males in tact 3 yr old German Shepherds that are brothers, I’ve had them since they were 3 months old. They have never been 100% housebroken, an accident now and then, but it’s getting worse. I live in the desert so I know sometimes it’s just to hot outside but they’re not stupid. I can bring them in the house and one of them will just pee. They poop too. It didn’t used to be this bad and one of them actually wakes me up in the middle of the night to go out. They have their “potty spot” in the back yard and do use it. My last GSD wouldn’t go in the house if his life depended on it. I’m completely stumped! Is it a competition? Are they marking their territory? I’ve tried the bell at the door, that never worked. They’ve been out of their crates for ages, although I’m thinking of starting that again. I don’t know what to do, please help. Just to be clear I’m not getting them fixed and yes one is more dominant over the other. Any help you could recommend would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. GDS Mom 🐾💗

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
674 Dog owners recommended

Hello Joy, To find out whether it's marking or just a potty training issue you would need to know if they went potty right before they came inside - and still marked. If they are holding it while outside and peeing inside that's probably a potty training issue, especially since they have always struggled with this and poop inside too. If they both go potty outside, then pee AGAIN inside - that sounds like marking. I suggest going outside with them when they go potty to find out - you will need to go with them for potty trips for a bit anyway to help with potty training. If it's marking, have both dogs wear a belly band - which is like a male diaper that covers just their male parts. You need to stop the spreading of scent to break this habit. Also, clean up all accidents with a cleaner that contains enzymes - only enzymes will remove the smell fully and the scent needs to be removed for the competing to stop - it also needs to be removed for potty training to work so they don't associate the house with peeing. Since its more likely a potty training issue, I suggest going back to crating both of them. You need to go with them to take them potty, tell them to "Go Potty" and watch them to make sure they go. If they go potty, then praise and give three small treats - one at a time. If they are just playing or getting distracted when you take them potty, then they need to be taken on leash, one at a time right now, and slowly walked around and encouraged to sniff. It may be that they get too distracted when with each other outside and need to be let outside separately for pottying - the faster they go, the faster they can move onto playing or come back inside. Going potty outside quickly is their ticket for getting to the next thing they want to do, instead of them going outside, then asking to come back in without doing anything. Since you will be going with them to see if they went potty, then if they don't go, when you take them back inside put whoever didn't go potty into the crate. Pottying = freedom. Not pottying = being in the crate. They should only be out of the crate when you know they are empty. Check out the article linked below for more tips. The article was written for puppies so the times will be very different for your boys - pay attention to how long they tend to be able to hold it for before having an accident and create your own schedule. While in the crate they can likely hold it for 7-9 hours, and while out of the crate 3-5 hours if it's not marking. When they get close to their bladder filling up again, they either need to be taken back outside or crated until time to go to ensure they don't potty in the house. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Apollo
AnimalBreed object
2 Years
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Question
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Apollo
AnimalBreed object
2 Years

Hi! We recently got Apollo at a humane society shelter, and he has just recently been neutered. He was in a cage so I wasn't expecting him to be house trained, but he is peeing everywhere. He is also afraid to enter my room, and even the house. I was wondering how to train him not to pee or if the excessive urination is because he has just been neutered, and why he might be afraid of coming inside. I think it might be because he remembered going inside a house like structure to be neutered but I dont know

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Hello, you have two issues to deal with concerning handsome Appollo. Firstly, the potty training. Take your new dog outside often, you can use a potty encouragement spray to aid in the peeing outside. Before you take Appollo out, spray an area on the grass. As soon as you head out, you take him directly there. Praise him and give him 4 treats each success, and give them one at a time so he really enjoys them. When cleaning up inside, use an enzymatic cleaner - it's the only thing that really removes the urine odor. Buy it at the pet supply store when you get the spray. As for the fear of going in the house, because you do not know his past it is hard to say why he has the issue. I suggest that you give him space when inside so that he does not feel overwhelmed and confined but still provide a comfy bed for him with toys. Occasionally place a few treats on the bed and let him find them himself when he goes there, as a surprise reward. Don't stand over him - get on his level, even sit on the floor and let him come to you. It will take time. You can read this as well: https://wagwalking.com/training/trust Good luck!

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Question
Angel
AnimalBreed object
1 Year
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Question
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Angel
AnimalBreed object
1 Year

She wont go to the bathroom outside we got her from a farm and it's just been hard getting her to pee outside shes always doing it inside we got her 2 months ago and still no progress

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
94 Dog owners recommended

Hello! When adult dogs have potty training issues, I often suggest just starting completely over as if your dog were a puppy. That usually solves any issues with in a few weeks or less. I am going to send you quite a bit of info on potty training. It is geared towards puppies, but the process is exactly what you will want to follow. Potty training: Know Your Pup. As you spend time with your puppy, learn your puppy’s love language. Just as some people prefer gifts, touch, or time spent together, puppies can be the same way. Some puppies love praise or pets, while others prefer treats. As you get to know your puppy, consider what reward your puppy loves the most. Create a Daily Schedule. It is best to have a routine for your puppy. A schedule helps them understand when to eat, play, and “go to the bathroom.” Your puppy should go out frequently and the routine should be the same every time. When? Start the day by taking your puppy outside, and repeating based on age and ability. They should also go out after napping, chewing, playing, and within 10 to 15 minutes of eating. Although some puppies can sleep for seven hours, it is important to set an alarm and take your pup out during the night. When you do, don’t make a fuss about it. Quietly take them outside with minimal stimulation and light. Praise them if they go to the bathroom and gently return them to their bed or crate. You don’t want them to get stimulated and ready to play in the middle of the night! As you get to know your puppy, you will become aware of their individual habits. Click here to learn more about house training schedules for puppies. Where? Take your puppy to a specific area to urinate or defecate. Be consistent. You can create an area by using urine-soaked paper or bowel movements to help create an aroma to stimulate your puppy. How? Take your puppy out on a leash so they can focus on the desired activity. This will help prevent them from wandering off to play. Once your puppy is in the selected area, use your verbal cue, such as “Hurry Up,” “Poopies,” “Go tinkle,” or any phrase your puppy responds to. What? Know the signs that your puppy has to go to the bathroom. Every animal may have a different “I gotta go” gesture, which often include restlessness, sniffing around, circling, scratching at the door, barking, and, eventually, squatting. At the first sign that your pup has to go, calmly and quickly take them outside to their bathroom spot. Deal with Accidents. Accidents are a normal part of house training a puppy. What to Do If you see your puppy in the process of urinating or defecating inappropriately, calmly and quickly interrupt them in the act. Tell them to stop (either by a jarring sound or command), and immediately take them to an appropriate location for elimination. After your puppy goes to the bathroom, lavishly praise them and offer a treat. Thoroughly clean up accidents, so your puppy is not attracted to this area again. Create a consistent feeding and watering schedule. Depending on the age of your puppy, they will eat three to four times a day. A consistent feeding routine can create a regular bathroom schedule. Take away water about 2 hours before bedtime. Learn more about ideal dog schedules here. What NOT to Do Don’t punish your puppy when they have an accident. At that point, it is too late. When a puppy has an accident in the house and they walk away, within seconds they have already forgotten about what they did. Taking them to the scene of the crime and yelling and/or rubbing their nose in it does not help and, in fact, can harm your puppy! Supervise. The best thing you can do is to prevent accidents and the best way to do this is to supervise your puppy at all times. You can tether your puppy to your waist with a five or six-foot leash and carefully observe them for signs that they need to go to the bathroom. If you can’t supervise, then crate or confine your puppy. The more accidents your puppy has in the house, the more confusing it will be for them and this can delay house training. Reward, Reward, Reward. It is important to give your puppy a reward for their good behavior. This can be for commands such as sitting and coming to you, or for appropriately eliminating outside. In a puppy, a reward can be a couple kibbles of puppy food or a treat, such as a small piece of meat. The treat should be exciting for them and only available as a result of good behavior.

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