Introduction to Potty Training a German Shepherd Puppy
Potty training a new puppy does not have to be difficult, but it does require consistency and patience. While it is true that puppies have small bladders, start training right away to help teach your newest family member the rules from the beginning and avoid confusion. New owners who are the most successful at potty training are diligent, patient, and consistent. This article is written to aid Von Ward Kennels German shepherd puppy buyers, but the article is relevant for any type of canine.
There are several fundamental ways to potty train a German shepherd puppy, but at Von Ward Kennels, we feel the best way is with a crate. German shepherds are smart and born with a strong desire to keep their den – their bed – clean. They are much like humans in that their bed is a great place to go to rest, get away from the hustle and bustle, relax, and feel safe. Your new puppy was born with an instinct not to soil their own bed, and they won’t unless they simply cannot hold it anymore. In fact, if your GSD puppy does have an accident, chances are he or she will go in a corner as best as possible to avoid soiling the whole crate.
When you first bring your puppy home, remember to be diligent, patient, and consistent with your potty training techniques. Take him to a potty area and give him a command for relieving himself. We use -go potty- but you can use whatever command you like. Again, the trick is to be consistent. Make sure all family members know and have agreed on the command together. It is more important to use the same command than to win a battle so choose something that everyone accepts. Tell the puppy the command, give him time to do his business, and if he goes, reward him with lots of praise. Have fun, be goofy, enjoy the puppy!
Afterward, put the puppy in his new crate. Give him a toy, pet him lovingly, and smile. Tell him it’s a great place and believe that yourself. Remind yourself how wonderful it feels to fall into your comfortable bed at night and remember that this is the feeling your puppy has when you put him in his crate. If he howls, don’t fret, be patient with him. He’s getting used to being separated from his littermates and his mother. You must leave him in his crate and let him adjust for about an hour.
Wait until the puppy is calm to invite him out again. It is important not to dote on him or console him while he is crying in his crate as this will teach him that he can get attention by crying. Wait until he is quiet, then take him out again to his potty area, and use the same training command as before. Remember, be consistent. Once he goes potty, spend some time with him if you have it to spare. Von Ward Kennels’ German shepherd puppies will have a strong ball drive. Throw a ball or other small toy, roll around in the yard with him, play tug-of-war, you get the idea! Just make sure that when you come out to the potty place that he goes potty first. Then if you have time, play-time is always fun!
When play-time is over, put the puppy back in his crate. The trick is to get him used to being in his crate, and to help him adjust to his new home as quickly as possible. He’ll miss his mom and littermates, but he must not get attention for behaviors that are not appropriate. If you are consistent, your puppy will learn very quickly.
If you are away from your puppy for longer than his body can hold it, your puppy will have no choice but to go potty in his crate. While this isn’t the most ideal situation, there will come a time when it cannot be helped. The key, again, is consistency. As soon as you are able, clean the crate well, clean the puppy if necessary, and spend time with him. There’s no need to scold him for going in the crate, he didn’t want to go there in the first place. He had no choice. NEVER leave the puppy in the crate with the accident. This will deteriorate your puppy’s natural instinct to keep his crate clean. Over time, your puppy will become accustomed to the filth and it won’t bother him as it once did. His instinct will become a distant memory. But if you are diligent and consistent with your puppy’s potty training techniques, your puppy’s instincts will be your best friend. They will help you train the puppy quickly and efficiently.
Home With Puppy
There are pros and cons to being at home with the GSD puppy. Obviously a pro is that you will be there to take him out as frequently as necessary, and you’ll be able to clean any messes right away. But being home means you can hear the puppy when it cries, and those sweet, innocent little eyes will scream at you -please pick me up, please love on me- which will be very hard to resist! Remember, try to avoid giving the puppy attention when he is doing something that is inappropriate like whining or howling.
Having a consistent schedule will help, and taking the puppy out to potty right after eating – read about the raw diet here – and drinking will also help. Don’t forget that just like you, he’s gotta go right after he wakes in the morning, and he should go just before he returns to his crate for the night. While your german shepherd puppy is small, you might want to get up once in the night as well, which might help him hold his bladder and keep his crate cleaner.
When you are able to keep a close eye on your puppy, you can confine him to a small area in the house. This will help him learn not to potty all over the home. If you keep the puppy somewhat confined, he will continue to treat his confine as he does his crate. Over time, open the confines a bit and give him a larger portion of the home to explore. Do this slowly and gradually, so that he recalls that the previous area was intended to stay clean and accident free. Remember not to keep him inside too long, he must have the opportunity to relieve himself before he cannot hold it any longer.
When Accidents Happen
Accidents will happen, but how you handle them will determine how fast your puppy learns, and how confident he becomes. When your puppy has an accident in the house, resist your frustration and anger. Do not punish him. This will make your puppy fearful and will not teach him any faster. Instead, just say -NO- and take him outside right away. Say the agreed on command and reward him if he goes outside. Clean up the accident as quickly and as best you can. If you can, use a bissel green machine or spot bot to clean a carpet or rug. Get the odor out as best you can to try and avoid the puppy re-soiling the same area. If possible, try not to allow the puppy to return to an area he soiled for awhile.
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