How to Train a German Shepherd to Poop Outside

Medium
1-6 Months
General

Introduction

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a new German Shepherd owner is thinking that you need to wait until your pup reaches a certain age before you can start potty training him. Nothing could be further from the truth! You can start working with your pup from the moment you pull up in your driveway with him for the first time. In other words, as soon as you get home with him, take him over to his "spot" in the yard to go potty. If he goes, be sure you praise him and give him a treat. 

Defining Tasks

German Shepherds are highly intelligent and easily trainable as long as you are willing to put in the time to work on training him. No one wants to step on an ice-cold pile of poop in the middle of the night. In the wild, your pup's mother would have taught him not to go potty in the den. But, since you took him from his mother and the breeder before she has had time to train him, it's now your job. Take your time, be positive, and never punish your dog for having an accident.

Getting Started

You can start working with your pup as soon as you bring him home. While potty training doesn't require much in the way of supplies, it will require you to invest a significant amount of time. The less time you have to spend working on the training, the longer it is going to take. The only real supplies you need are:

  •  A crate – For training, safety, and fewer accidents
  • A leash – To take him out to his spot in the yard
  • Treats – A large supply to use as rewards

The rest is all about having the time and patience to see your pup's training to a successful conclusion. Take your time, work at your pup's pace and before long, he will no longer be leaving you those landmines all over your house. 

The No, Not There Method

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Step
1
Start with a bag of his favorite tasty treats
Make sure you have a plentiful supply of your pup's favorite treats on hand.
Step
2
Eyes on the pup
Your pup will let you know he is thinking about going poop. He will sniff at a spot, scratch at it, and start walking around it in circles. When you see him behaving like this, say "NO!" to stop him in his tracks.
Step
3
Not there, here
Choose a cue like "Let's go potty!" and use it as you carry your pup or take him out to his spot on his leash.
Step
4
Success
It might take a few minutes, but in time he will finish what he started by pooping on the lawn where he is supposed to go. If he does, be sure to give him plenty of praise and a treat.
Step
5
Failure
If he doesn't go right away, give him 15 minutes and then take him back inside. You can put him in his crate or leave him out where you can keep a close eye on him. When he looks like he is trying to go, take him back out so he can do so.
Step
6
Practice
Keep practicing with your pup, adding more time between excursions until he can go for several hours without needing to go. Be patient, he is smart and will soon figure it all out.
Recommend training method?

The On the Hour Method

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Step
1
Supplies first
For this you need a timer, plenty of treats, his leash, and a crate.
Step
2
Weeks 1-2
At this point you need to be taking your pup out every hour on the hour or by setting a timer. This sets up a nice routine and increases the chance your pooch will be in the right place at the right time.
Step
3
Weeks 3-4
Move the timer up to 90 minutes and start introducing your cue phrase "time to go outside" each time you take him out.
Step
4
Weeks 5-6
By now you should be able to stretch the time to a full 2 hours. Puppies can usually hold it for an hour per month of age, so lengthen the time between trips accordingly.
Step
5
Each time
Each time your pup poops out in the yard, be sure to praise him and give him a treat before taking him back inside.
Step
6
The rest
The rest is all about working with your pup and repeating the steps until he no longer poops in your house.
Recommend training method?

The Sprayed Grass Method

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Step
1
For this you need spray
Start out by picking up a bottle of Potty Training Spray from your favorite pet supply store. This stuff is amazing, it will entice almost any dog to explore the spray area and then mark it by peeing or pooping there.
Step
2
This land is your land...
...also known as using the spray to mark an area of your yard where you want your pup to go. The idea is he goes here and nowhere else in your yard.
Step
3
Time to potty
Put your pup on his leash, take him out to the area and let him sniff around. Chances are the spray will make him go potty. But, if not, that's okay too. Just take him back in the house for a few minutes and then tray again.
Step
4
Good boy!
Each time you take your pup out to his "potty spot" and he does his business, be sure to praise him and give him a nice treat.
Step
5
The road goes ever on
The rest is all about practice, practice, practice. The more you practice the more you should be spreading out the time between potty breaks. In time, he will learn to let you know when he needs to go. Once this happens, fait accompli (your job is done).
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Benzie
German Shepherd
16 Weeks
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Question
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Benzie
German Shepherd
16 Weeks

Hi, We have a germen shepherd and we will take her out in the morning, for instance this morning at 8 am she was out peed and pooped, by 9am she already pooped in the house while in her gated area while we got ready for work, she does this everyday and we cant seem to get her not to poop, she never poops in the house or even pees when she is free roam only if she's gated off.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
819 Dog owners recommended

Hello Catelyn, Are you feeding her between 8am when she goes outside and 9am when she has an accident? Puppies at that age need to go potty after very specific events happen. One is when they wake up, which is why she probably goes at 8am easily. Another is within ten to thirty minutest after they eat. That one is very specific to needing to poop and there is a very small window between when they eat and need to eliminate. Unlike an older dog, puppies cannot hold their poop for very long after eating. If that is the case try taking her back outside ten to fifteen minutes after she eats, even though you already took her at 8am. The area that you are placing her into is probably also a problem. If you are using a cleaner that does not say it contains enzymes, even if it says it's for pets, then the poop is not being broken down enough to fully eliminate the smell, and with her stronger sense of smell the scent left is encouraging her to go again in that same area. Try cleaning that entire area with a pet safe spray that contains enzymes. You can also try moving her gated area to a new location until the problem is solved. She might be going there out of habit at this point and only moving the gate will break the cycle. Try taking her outside again before 9am, right after she eats, cleaning the area with an enzymatic spray, and if that still does not work, moving the gated area to another location while doing the first two things. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Jager
German Shepherd
3 Months
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Jager
German Shepherd
3 Months

I take him outside when he is showing signs of pooping and my record is being out there with him for 1-1/2 hours before giving up and coming in but 10 minutes after we come in i find a pile of poop somewhere in my house. I dont understand. Its like he thinks the house is where he poops ive tried reversing to the best of my knowledge but to no avail..

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
819 Dog owners recommended

Hello Pheonix, Many puppies this age get super distracted (or nervous) while outside and will wait until things are calmer (inside) to go potty. Check out the article I have linked below and strictly follow the crate Training method. Anytime you take him potty and he doesn't go both pee and poop when you know he probably needs to poop too, after 15 minutes of walking him around without him going, bring him back inside and put him into the crate, then try again 30-45 minutes later. Repeat this until he poops outside. Once he has pooped outside, you can give him more freedom after he pees outside, until he may need to poop again - then start the whole process over again - only giving freedom when he pees AND poops outside, and crating and trying again if he doesn't go when you take him. Read the method carefully. It talks about walking him around slowly on leash to help him focus, teaching the "Go Potty" command - which will help him focus and know what to do once he learns it, and rewarding with treats to motivate - keep the treats hidden in a pocket until after he goes though. It's also important to walk him around slowly to get his digestive tract going so he feels the urge to poop. After running around, and 15-45 minutes after feeding him are also likely times he will need to poop. Many puppies poop 2-3 times per day. Pay attention to his body's schedule so that you can get an idea of when he may need to go and be more strict with the crate around those times. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Finally, don't put anything absorbent in his crate or he will likely soil that, and make sure it's sized correctly. Enough room for him to turn around, lie down, and stand up, but not extra room for him to potty on one end and stand in the other to avoid it - too big and he may poop in it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Athena
German Shepherd
11 Months
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Question
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Athena
German Shepherd
11 Months

How do I get my 11 month German Shepard to poop outside cause when she goes outside she is all distracted even in a non distracted environment. She could be eating grass looking up and barley sniffing.

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

Hello, I suggest that you keep Athena moving along when you take her out for potty breaks. Your dog is more apt to eliminate when walking is brisk. Work on her heeling skills when out on walks: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel. Try the Treat Lure Method and the Turns Method. She'll be focusing on you as opposed to the environment. Chances are, she'll poop on one of the breaks. Take her on a walk first thing in the morning, after a nap, and always after mealtimes (within about 30 minutes). Dogs often need to poop at that time. Praise her every time she goes and give a treat as a reward as well, to motivate her. Good luck!

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Question
Sentinel
Shepherd
2 Years
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Sentinel
Shepherd
2 Years

Sentinel poops in the house and is two years old. Then he paces around in it. I would love for him to relax in the living room with me but he is confined to the laundry room... HELP, PLEASE!!!

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

Hello, my apologies for the delay. I have an excellent guide for you that will help Sentinel learn to poop outside. The tips are spot-on: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside. I would start with the Timing Method and train Sentinel as if he were a puppy. Start as if from day 1. Take Sentinel out as often as you can - I've taken a new puppy outside every 30 minutes until they finally get it - it's worth the extra work. Be sure to take Sentinel on long walks to give him the opportunity to poop outside and when he does, praise him over and over and give him a treat. Clean your floors with an enzymatic cleaner. You may not realize that despite your efforts to clean, Sentinel will still smell an odor unless the enzymatic cleaner is used and may repeat the pooping just because he thinks it's okay. Purchase the cleaner at the pet supply store. Be sure to take Sentinel out between 10 and 30 minutes after each meal. When you see him start to circle or sniff the ground, take him out right away. If you don't have luck with the Timing Method, take a look at the Crate Method. Either way, read the entire guide for tips. Good luck!

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Question
Buddy
German Shepherd
3 Months
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Question
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Buddy
German Shepherd
3 Months

How to tell a dog to poop outside

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

Hello! Here is information on potty training, as well as crate training. 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. Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog's age, temperament and past experiences. It's important to keep two things in mind while crate training: The crate should always be associated with something pleasant and training should take place in a series of small steps. Don't go too fast. Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at their leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn't one of them: Bring them over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won't hit your dog and frighten them. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that's OK; don't force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days. Step 2: Feed your dog meals in the crate After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, don’t let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they'll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they'll keep doing it. Step 3: Practice with longer crating periods After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short time periods while you're home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as "crate." Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you're out of sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks. Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave them with a few safe toys in the crate. Vary the moment during your "getting ready to leave" routine that you put your dog in the crate. Although they shouldn't be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don't make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give them a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don't reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to them in an enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low-key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so they don't associate crating with being left alone. Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Older dogs should also initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again. Separation anxiety: Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won't solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may get injured in an attempt to escape. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counterconditioning and desensitization procedures.

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Question
Luna
German Shepherd
5 Months
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Question
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Luna
German Shepherd
5 Months

How do I make her not bark while I’m somewhere else? How do I stop her from popping inside? What should I not/do? What are some methods you recommend me? What are some good treats for her?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
819 Dog owners recommended

Hello Aydelis, Check out the Surprise method from the article I have linked below. I recommend practicing that method for crate training and with something like an exercise pen, to simply get pup used to you being out of the room - with you returning to sprinkle treats when they get quiet. Expect lots of barking at first and only seconds of quiet that you can reward initially. Stay consistent about waiting pup out as long as it's not time for a potty trip and they are somewhere safe, so that they learn that quietness is what gets you to return, not persistent barking. For the potty training, check out the crate training and tethering methods from the article linked below. You can also follow a combination of both. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Check out the free PDF e-book, AFTER You Get Your Puppy, that can be downloaded at the link below for general puppy raising advice. www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads For treats, you can use pup's own meal kibble most of the time. Simply subtract what you use as treats from pup's daily food portion, to avoid overfeeding. I also like soft, freeze dried meat treats personally. They tend to easily dissolve in pup's mouth for times when pup is moving a lot while heeling and coming, are healthier than most treats because of the meat and veggies, and usually loved by most dogs. Stella and Chewy and Natures' Variety meal toppers and similar types of treats are a couple of examples of those. Always pay attention to any treat recalls going on as well. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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