German Shepherds are very popular dogs, and the puppies are nothing short of adorable. When it’s time to potty-train your German Shepherd, the first thing you need to know is that the earlier you start, the easier it will be.
Surprisingly, these dogs can control their bladders at around 20 days of age, which is roughly three weeks old! Because of this, German Shepherd potty-training can begin practically as soon as you get them home.
German Shepherd Potty-Training
Much as with other dogs, it is much easier to train a German Shepherd when you start early, practice consistency, and be very patient. You’ll want to choose a spot for the dog to go and make sure that you take them to that spot every time. You also need to know that these dogs can only hold their bladder around two hours up to the age of 16 weeks, so they’ll need to be taken out to potty about every hour.
After about three months of age, your dog can hold their bladder for four hours, so taking them to potty every two hours is a must. For the best results, take the dog to the potty area roughly 10 to 20 minutes after they eat.
In fact, taking your German Shepherd regularly throughout the day is the best thing to do, including upon waking, after napping, and before you put them to bed.
Naturally, you should reward the dog with a treat for every successful potty time. This is what is known as positive reinforcement, and always choose this over negative reinforcement such as any type of punishment. Taking note of the dog’s body language is also important because you never know exactly when they’ll need to go. The dog may have to potty even if it isn’t time for a “scheduled” potty break.
Look for things such as pawing at the door, circling, walking in a strange manner, or even whining or whimpering. In fact, if they start to show any behavior that is out of the ordinary, the reason could be because the dog is ready to go outside and potty.
Potty-Training a Puppy German Shepherd
Puppies are easier to train than adult dogs, and this includes German Shepherds. Since small dogs have small bladders, you have to take them for potty breaks frequently.
When you’re training them, always avoid the following things:
- Never give the puppy too many treats. If you do this, the treats will be thought of as just another bit of food for the dog to eat. Treats have to be associated with rewards, which is why you should also have a separate type of treat that is used just for training and nothing else.
- Never leave your puppy too long alone in a crate or unsupervised in your home. This is tempting fate because the longer they’re alone, the more likely they’ll have an accident, especially during the training weeks.
- Never overfeed your dog or feed them too close to the time they’re supposed to go to bed. They need to have time in between their feeding time and their sleeping time. Otherwise, they could more easily have an accident.
- Never let your dog have access to all areas of your home unless they’ve been housebroken. If they aren’t housebroken, they may consider an unfamiliar area an invitation to pee or poop. Once they’re housebroken, this won’t be as much of a problem.
- Never halfway clean the area where an accident has occurred. Dogs have a strong sense of smell, and if they smell even a hint of urine or feces somewhere, they’ll be tempted to go back there and pee or poop. When they have an accident, use an enzyme-based cleaner and clean the area thoroughly every time in order to get rid of the smell.
- Never ignore your puppy’s body language because if they’re doing anything out of the ordinary, it may be because they need to potty. Always pay attention to what they’re doing while you’re potty-training them.
It is certainly easier to train a puppy than it is to train an adult dog. You still need patience, consistency, positive reinforcement, and the ability to show the dog that you’re the boss. It may take weeks or months to completely potty-train a German Shepherd puppy, but it is not as difficult as you might think.
How Long Can German Shepherds Hold Their Pee?
Starting at about three weeks of age, German Shepherds are able to manage their bowels, which is why starting their potty-training at a very young age is such a good idea. At 8 to 16 weeks, or two to four months of age, they can hold their pee for a full two hours.
At around four months or 16 weeks, they can hold their pee up to four hours, and starting at around 24 weeks or six months, they can hold it for four or more hours.
Nevertheless, what you’ll want to do is take them outside to potty before it gets to that magic maximum number. To be on the safe side, take puppies that are two to four months old to potty every hour, puppies that are four to six months old to potty every two hours, and puppies older than six months of age to potty every three hours. Naturally, you’ll always want to look for signs that they might need to go out earlier.
Once they’re fully trained, they will usually let you know when they need to go, but you should still check on them every three hours or so just to make sure. Once they’re crate trained, they should be able to stay in the crate overnight without going, which is why crate training should include certain rules.
German Shepherd Crate Training Schedule
Crate training might be just what you need if you spend time away from home and the dog will be alone. It’s also good for nighttime to prevent the dog from roaming your house and from having accidents as they do.
Here are the steps that you should take when you want to crate train your German Shepherd:
- Choose the right sized crate. It should be comfortable for the dog to stand, stretch, and turn around without touching the sides or the top of the crate.
- Add items to the crate to make it comfortable, including chew toys, a nice soft blanket or two, or anything else the puppy loves. Lure them in with a treat.
- In the beginning, keep the puppy in the crate for only ten minutes, then let them out and give them a treat. After an hour, put them back in for 20 minutes and repeat this process until you work up to an hour.
- Add one to the age of your puppy to get the maximum amount of hours that they should be kept in the crate until they get used to it. If your puppy is four months old, for example, they should be trained to stay in the crate for five hours at a time.
Potty-training a German Shepherd is similar to potty-training other breeds. You have to use treats, be consistent, and most of all, never rush it.
It’s going to take as long as it’s going to take, but it’s all worth it in the end when your puppy is fully potty-trained, and it is especially important when you want the dog to be in a crate all night.