6 Steps to Easily Potty Train Your Australian Shepherd

Potty Training Your Australian Shepherd: The Ultimate Guide

Your puppy has become the new favorite in the household, but you’re not thrilled about how much your dog isn’t paying attention to you when you take him outside. Too many distractions, and then he comes in and relieves himself everywhere. You’ve tried pee-pee pads with limited success. You know your Aussie needs training to reinforce good behavior. So stock up on newspapers and keep reading to learn how to potty train your Australian Shepherd.

There are six easy steps for potty training Australian Shepherd puppies:

  1. Limit what your Aussie eats and drinks
  2. Crate-train your dog
  3. Establish a bathroom schedule to avoid accidents
  4. Reward and praise your Aussie for pooping/peeing outside in the dry grass when it is time. (my dogs HATE wet grass for some reason, so I did some research to find out why. Here’s a link to the article I wrote if you’re curious too…Why won’t my dog walk on wet grass?)
  5. Take them out when you catch them in the act
  6. Repeat, repeat, repeat…and exercise patience.

In this article, we’ll cover these handy potty-training tips in more detail so you can be well on your way to teaching your Australian Shepherd good bathroom habits! You’re not going to want to miss it.

Potty training Australian Shepherd pups without success? Follow These 6 Tips Instead!

This pretty little girl is Piper, and she lives in Longview, Wa.
Her owner is Tarrie Barnes.

Limit What Your Aussie Eats and Drinks

You can expect that when your Australian Shepherd has a bite to eat followed by gulping down half the water in his bowl, he will have to use the bathroom soon.

If your Aussie eats when you’re not home, such as idly munching on kibble out of boredom, what happens when he has to go outside? You won’t be there, but he has to go somewhere, so it ends up happening on your living room floor.

You should always provide fresh water for your Australian Shepherd, but he doesn’t need food out all the time. You also want to feed your Aussie according to his growth and age.

Crate-Train Your Dog

As we discussed in the intro, your approach to potty training your Aussie might consist of laying down pee-pee pads on nearly every floor in your house. This way, if your Australian Shepherd feels the urge to go, no matter where he is, he can just let loose.

There’s a big problem with potty training any dog this way. Your Aussie doesn’t necessarily understand that he’s going on pee-pee pads, just that he’s peeing in the living room or the den.

Once you get rid of the pads because you think, your Australian Shepherd has learned good bathroom habits, guess what will happen?

That’s right; he’ll keep peeing in the living room or den. All you’re doing with the wee-wee pads is accidentally training him into thinking this behavior is okay. Except it’s not okay now that the pee-pee pads are gone.

Sidenote:  I’ve tested and “gone thru” a lot of crates.  I’ve had crates that didn’t last long at all (my Aussie literally bent one so bad he hurt himself and got out– so much for “indestructible”).  If you’re looking for a good solid crate that won’t break the bank, this is the dog crate that I’m currently using: I got it from Amazon. Set up was easy and it’s still holding up like the day it was new.

Still, your dog is confused.

You let him do this for weeks or months, but he suddenly can’t?

The better method for potty training Australian Shepherds of any age is crate training. Dogs are instinctively motivated to find a nest, so a crate should naturally appeal to your Aussie.

You want to fill the crate with things your dog cares about. Try a dog bed, some blankets, and maybe a plush toy. Keep the crate small, not so tiny that your Aussie can’t maneuver, but it should be cozy.

If your Australian Shepherd doesn’t get interested in the crate when you put his favorite things in it, then lure him in with some treats. Your dog will get used to this space on his own eventually and begin using it often.

This is Swayze, a mini Aussie.
Owner: Lona Warne from Farmington, New Mexico

So why add nice things to the crate if your Aussie will just go potty in there? That’s the point, he’s not supposed to go to the bathroom in the crate. He won’t want to because he sleeps here and he’ll soil where he relaxes.

When your Australian Shepherd has to go, he might leave the crate or begin whining, crying, or moving toward the front door. That’s your cue to take him out!

Establish a Reliable Bathroom Schedule

If your Australian Shepherd is doing his part in accepting crate training, then you have to do your part by keeping his bathroom schedule reliable.

How often does your Aussie have to go outside?

As a puppy, at least once every hour, maybe every 2 hours in some instances.

By the time your Australian Shepherd is all grown up, he should be outside 3 to 5 times every day. Do keep in mind that your Aussie’s diet could necessitate more bathroom trips, as can some medical conditions.

No matter how many times you’re going out with your Aussie, keep it reliable.

If you wake up at 6 a.m. for work, then maybe you take your dog out at around 6:10. You might stop home for lunch at 12:30 to give your Shepherd a bathroom break. Then you’re home by 5:00 and your pup is leashed up and outside by 5:07.

It’s okay if the outdoor trips aren’t to the minute each and every day, but you want to stick as close to the schedule as possible. Make sure that whatever schedule you create is doable on both weekdays and weekends, as your Aussie has to go out no matter what day it is.

This reliable schedule will make it easier to potty train your Australian Shepherd. He’ll get a sense of when he’s going out, as dogs can learn routines. If he has to go now but your Aussie knows it’s almost bathroom time, he might be able to hold it just a bit longer.

That said, please don’t ask your dog to wait 8 or 10 hours to go to the bathroom. Some dogs can do it, but not all.

What do you do if you take your Aussie out but he doesn’t have to go?

Give him 10 or 15 minutes outside, and if nothing happens, then take him back in. You might try again in an hour or wait until the next scheduled bathroom break if that’s not too far from now.

Reward Your Aussie When They Go Outside

In the early days of potty training your Australian Shepherd, every time he does what you ask, it’s a cause for celebration. You might think rewarding him for simply peeing or pooping on the lawn is excessive, but it’s anything but.

Think about when you trained your Aussie to shake or sit. If you asked him to do the command and he did it, what would happen? You would give him a treat or a vigorous head rub or toys.

This reinforces to your dog that this behavior warrants good things happening. That makes your Aussie want to repeat the behavior more often.

You have to do the same thing when your dog goes potty outside. Don’t always give him treats, but verbal rewards to like saying “wow, you’re such a good boy!” Physical rewards like head pats or hugging him tight also reinforce good behavior.

Once your Aussie is successfully potty trained, you can make less of a big deal out of the everyday bathroom trip. Until you get to that point though, be ready to appreciate every small victory you get.

“Here’s a pro tip when training (so your dog doesn’t become a chunky monkey like one of mine did).  Get a bag of these awesome dog-training treats from Amazon.  They are small, low-cal, and all-natural.  Good for your dog, and they’ll love them, I promise!  They do a good job at speeding up the learning curve of training, and they don’t have any of that chemical junk like BHA, BHT or Ethoxyquin.”

If You Catch Them in the Act, Bring Your Dog Outside

Here’s a little scenario for you. Your Australian Shepherd didn’t make it out in time and goes pee on the living room carpet. You walk right in and see it.

What do you do? Your first inclination will be to yell at your dog, right?

After all, your Aussie blatantly misbehaved so shouting at him will teach your Aussie not to do it again. Or will it?

Yelling at a dog is actually one of the worst things you can do.

Your Aussie knows some words like “sit,” or “treat,” but he doesn’t grasp half the words you’re saying during your tirade.

Even if your dog did understand you, all you’re doing is confusing and upsetting him, even creating stress in your Aussie.

Oh, and if you thought yelling would stop your dog from pooping on the floor? It doesn’t.

Your Shepherd hasn’t learned a better way than to pee or poop in the house, so that’s what he’ll continue doing until you teach him otherwise.

So yes, while you might want to scream your head off when your Australian Shepherd takes a huge dump on your white carpeting, keep your cool.

Collect your dog, take him outside, and let him finish out there.

Then, reward your dog. It sounds crazy, but it’s the right course of action. After all, although your Aussie didn’t start by going outside, he did finish outdoors, and that requires a reward.

Handling the situation this way lets you keep up the training even after this minor setback. You do want to take some time to figure out what may have caused your Aussie to have the accident.

  • Did you feed him too much this morning?
  • Perhaps you missed the scheduled bathroom time by 40 minutes?

Identifying where the mistake arose from allows you to modify your behavior as well, which is needed for successfully potty training your Australian Shepherd.

Swayze, a mini Aussie.

Be Patient and Keep It Up

The above scenario might happen more than once as you potty train your Aussie. You’re going to have to be patient because you’re now in it for the long haul.

It takes at least 4 months to potty train a dog, sometimes as long as 6 months.

Sure, that can seem like an eternity when you’re living in constant fear of bathroom messes in your home. As hard as training your puppy can sometimes be, follow the bathroom schedule, and reward your Aussie when he’s good, and eventually, this chapter in your dog’s life will come to a close.


If you’re struggling to potty train your Australian Shepherd, there are a few things you might be doing incorrectly right off the bat.

Yelling at your dog when he has an accident is one such mistake and using pee-pee pads instead of crate training is another.

Through the tips in this guide, you can get your puppy potty trained.

It doesn’t matter what age your dog is; it’s never too late to start. Best of luck, your house will thank you!

Here is a list of resources for potty training an Australian Shepherd:

“Potty Training Your Australian Shepherd” by the Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute:

This article provides tips on how to potty train your Australian Shepherd, including how to set a routine, how to choose the right spot for your dog to go potty, and how to reward your dog for going potty outside.
Link: https://www.ashgi.org/articles/potty-training-your-australian-shepherd
“Potty Training Your Australian Shepherd Puppy” by Love Your Dog:

This article offers a step-by-step guide for potty training an Australian Shepherd puppy, including how to establish a routine, how to crate train, and how to deal with accidents.
Link: https://www.loveyourdog.com/potty-training-your-australian-shepherd-puppy/
“Potty Training Your Australian Shepherd: A Complete Guide” by K9 of Mine:

This guide covers everything you need to know about potty training an Australian Shepherd, including how to establish a routine, how to choose the right spot for your dog to go potty, and how to deal with accidents.
Link: https://www.k9ofmine.com/potty-training-your-australian-shepherd/
“Potty Training an Australian Shepherd” by PetMD:

This article provides an overview of the steps involved in potty training an Australian Shepherd, including how to establish a routine, how to choose the right spot for your dog to go potty, and how to deal with accidents.
Link: https://www.petmd.com/dog/puppycenter/training/evr_dg_potty_training_an_australian_shepherd
I hope these resources are helpful! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Ryan Wood

Over 20 years ago I got my first Australian Shepherd. Ever since then, my family and I have been constantly learning and immersing myself with these wonderful and intriguing dogs. Now with 6 Aussie's and a couple Australian Cattle Dogs (aka Blue Heelers) in the family tree, We've learned from on-the-ground experience what makes the Australian breeds different than "regular dogs" and what doesn't. This is the site where we share everything we've learned.

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