How To Train a Dog To Use Pee Pads

If you have a new puppy or an older dog in your home that doesn’t go out of the home, you need to make sure they’re house trained. You wouldn’t invite anyone into your home who wasn’t, so why would you change the rules for your pet?

The question is – how to train a dog to use pee pads? A pee pad can be a convenient answer to potty training your pup or dealing with any accidents your older dog may have around the home. 

You may also ask, can you train an older dog to use pee pads? Having done so with two rescue dogs over the years, I can tell you that the answer to this is yes.

All dogs have an accident occasionally, and it’s not something that should be punished. Instead, you need to teach your puppy the right place to go to the bathroom. 

We’ll show you how to teach your dog to use pee pads quickly, to help keep your home spotlessly clean.

We’ll go through the following:

  • When Should You Start Potty Training Your Dog?
  • How Long Does It Take To Potty Train a Dog?
  • Why Should You Use Pee Pads?
  • Before You Start
  • How To Train Your Dog To Use Pee Pads?
  • Supervise at All Times
  • Use a Crate When You Can’t Supervise
  • Don’t Punish Your Dog for Accidents
  • How To Clean up Pee and Poop Accidents
  • Can You Train a Dog To Use Pee Pads and Go Outside?
  • Key Takeaways on Using Pee Pads

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When should you start potty training your dog?

Potty training takes lots of patience, but don’t start too early. Your pet will be able to control its bladder and bowel movements from around 3 weeks. 

Formal house training can start as soon as you bring your puppy home at 8 weeks old. Just remember that at this age they will need to go out as frequently as once an hour and immediately after naps or after playing hard.

If your puppy is older than this when you bring them home, and they have been in a cage with other puppies, start potty training as soon as they get home.

How long does it take to potty train a dog?

The time it takes to teach your puppy to be potty trained is dependent on many factors, such as size and breed of the dog and their previous living conditions. A small dog will need to go potty more often than larger dogs as they have a smaller bladder but higher metabolism.

How quickly you as a dog parent pick up on your dog’s signals and body language also plays a big part. 

Potty training is about instilling a good habit and can take between four to six months. But if your pup has been living with many other dogs before, or is a little older, it could take up to a year.

For example, housebreaking a puppy that has been in a kennel full time with other dogs who are allowed to pee and poop where they hang out will be much harder.

Positive reinforcement and lots of appropriate rewards will help to make training your pet a much easier process.

Why should you use pee pads?

Pee pads are a convenient way of potty training your puppy to go to the bathroom in one specific area. These are the first step to getting your pet house trained and ready for going outside. 

Pros of using pee pads 

  • Easy clean-up in one location
  • Has an attractant the puppy can smell and encourages to use the pad 
  • Contain an odor eliminator
  • Comfortable for puppies to use
  • Reduces the chances of stepping in something unpleasant
  • Good for puppies and older dogs who can’t go outdoors

Cons of using pee pads

  • The pup may get used to the pad and not want to go outdoors
  • They may think that any square on the floor is a suitable pee pad, for example, rug, yoga mat, etc.

Before you start

There are several things that you need to consider before training your puppy to use pee pads.

Put your dog on a regular feeding schedule

It’s easier to instill a good habit in your pup when they have a regular schedule. This includes feeding your pet at set times and removing their food between meals. 

This schedule will get them used to using the pad as part of a routine after eating.

Choose the right pee pad

Choose the most suitable potty pads for you and your pet. The pad needs to be leak-proof, quick-drying, and hold a large capacity of urine to make sure that those who go frequently don’t make a mess.

An odor neutralizer in the pad is great as this will remove any smells from your home. A built-in attractant is good to get your puppy interested in using the pee pad.

Make sure that the pee pad you choose is tear-resistant. Many puppies will see this as a new toy to play with, and you don’t want it to be destroyed before they can use it.

Great pee pads to use for your puppy are the All-Absorb Training Pads. They have everything you need to teach your pet new potty habits and are super absorbent.

How To Train a Dog To Use Pee Pads

How to train your dog to use pee pads?

There are certain steps that you need to take to train a dog to use pee pads and get them into a routine.

Establish a designated bathroom spot

Dogs, just like us humans, are creatures of habit. Once we get into a routine, it becomes second nature. 

You should place the pad in the same place each time, and take your puppy to it so that they know where to go potty. They need to be aware that this space is for the bathroom only.

Introduce your dog to the pad 

Allow the puppy to get used to the pad by taking them to it and letting them have a sniff about it. This will remove the fear of the new object and will get them familiar with the pad’s sight and smell.

Whenever you think your pup might go pee, like right after a nap, carry them to the pad and set them on it.

When they see the pee pad for the first time, use a phrase that they can associate with it and what it’s there for, such as ‘go potty.’

Use a “potty” phrase

We all like to speak to our pets, and they get used to hearing our voices and the emotions and intonations we use. Using a phrase that they can learn and associate with the pee pad will help train your pup to pee on command and use the pad correctly.

Go potty

It can be a simple phrase like ‘go potty.’ If you use this each time you take them to the pad, they will associate it with going to the toilet. 

You can then use this command when you take your puppy outside, and they will understand what they need to do.

Be consistent

Consistency is key in any kind of training. You want your dog to get into the habit of using the pee pad, so it needs to remain in the same place and be used at regular times. By using the same command when your puppy is at the pad, it will help them to understand the purpose of the pad.

Feed your pet at the same time each day, and then take them to the pad following this so that it forms a routine. They need to be taken to the pad repetitively to get them into the habit of using it each time they need the bathroom. Little puppies may need to pee as frequently as every hour so be patient.

It can take a few days for you to figure out your pup’s typical pee schedule and get them to the pad on time. But once they figure it out they will start to go on the pad on their own.

Reward good behavior

The best way to get your puppy to learn to use it correctly is to reward them when they use it correctly. Give them lots of praise and congratulate them, letting them know that what they did was a good thing. 

This could be with positive words of praise in an excited tone of voice or by petting your dog and showing them lots of love. You can even give them a small treat to show how pleased you are with them. 

By rewarding them, and giving them lots of praise you will encourage them to do the right thing next time they need to go.

Learn more about pee pads and how to use them here:

Supervise at all times

Potty pad training can be a daunting experience for your puppy. 

By accompanying them to the pad and telling them to ‘go potty,’ your pet will feel more comfortable using it. This will also help them get used to being at your side when they are outside. 

You don’t have to watch them, just be there with them to make sure that they go in the right place and that they’re comfortable. 

Take your dog to the pee pad frequently

In the first stages of potty pad training, you won’t have a clue as to when your puppy needs to do their business. 

Therefore, you should take them for potty breaks every couple of hours and definitely after they wake, eat, drink, or have been playing. This will reduce the chances of them going elsewhere around the home. 

Use a leash for more control

Your pet may struggle to stay in the same place for any length of time, and they may get distracted easily. If this is the case, you could try putting them on a leash when you take them to the potty pad.

This helps them to get used to being on a leash as well as letting them know that they have to stay in the same place while they go potty. 

How to know when your dog has to go?

It can be difficult to know when your puppy needs to go. But the chances are that they will need this every couple of hours. 

If your pet starts to sniff around the floor rather than playing with their toys, this is a good indication that they need to go. 

Many dogs circle, especially before they need to poop.

You need to make sure that you take them to the potty pad after they eat or sleep, the same way that you would take them out for a walk at these times.

Use a crate when you can’t supervise

If you’re not home to supervise your puppy, it may be a good idea to get a large crate or pen to restrict their access to rooms around the house.

Have the potty pads located inside the crate but make sure the crate is big enough for a separate space for the pad alongside room for the dog to stand and turn around. They will be able to continue with their potty training without you.

This will prevent accidents or distractions when they want to go potty and will make sure that you return to a clean home, just as you left it.

Don’t punish your dog for accidents

All dogs have accidents at times, and they shouldn’t be punished. If your pet has an accident, calmly take them over to the potty pad and repeat your verbal command, ‘go potty.’

Stay with them for a few minutes so that they understand that when they need to go, this is the place where they should go.

By shouting at your puppy or punishing them, it will make them fear you and motivate them to go in secret, hiding any evidence of their bathroom habits. This will ruin all the good work that you’ve completed so far and will take you back to the start of the training.

Praise, not punishment will get you the results you want.

How to clean up pee and poop accidents

If there is an accident, you need to clean it up properly, so it doesn’t leave any lasting stains or odors. 

Use an enzyme-based cleaner to make sure that the mess is cleaned up and there are no scents for your pet to follow, thus, returning to do it again.

Can you train a dog to use pee pads and go outside?

Once your puppy is 3-4 weeks old they can start going on short trips outside to use the bathroom. Toy breeds should be older because they are tiny and more vulnerable. 

Getting your puppy to go outside may take some adjusting as they have just got used to doing it indoors as part of their potty training.

You can make this easier by gradually moving the pee pad closer to the door as they get used to using it. Once the puppy can go out, you could move this with them so that they use it outside. 

This will teach them that they now need to go when outside, and hopefully your potty training experience will be over. 

Key points on using pee pads

Your puppy is new to you and your home, and you need to get them house trained so that they don’t soil the flooring in your home. The easiest way to do this is by using pee pads and getting your puppy into a routine of using them whenever they need to go potty.

By using a friendly command of go potty, your dog will associate the pee pad with going for a pee or poop. 

A calm, positive tone of voice, lots of praise, and a reward is the best way to get your puppy to react positively to training. Whatever you do, don’t get angry with them or punish them if they have an accident, as this will undo all of your good work.

How To Train a Dog To Use Pee Pads

By teaching your puppy to use a pee pad when they need to go potty, it will get your pet into the habit of going in one place and make your life a whole lot easier.

Pee pads are great things to use for house training your puppy. At 12-weeks-old, they should be able to control their bladder and bowel movement, and the earlier you start after this, the better. 

Kate Basedow, LVT
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