How to Train Your Dog to Stop Using Pee Pads

Easy
1-6 Weeks
General

Introduction

Those wonderful puppy pee pads promised to make potty training your pup so easy! All you had to do was rub a little of their pee on the pad and put it in the same place each time. Your pup will follow his own scent to the target and boom, no more wet spots on the floor. You can even do the same with a little poop. And as long as you keep a ready supply of pads, everything's all right. Or is it?

Yup! Those pads are a real modern miracle until you miss one for a day or two and the stink starts to set in. Maybe it's time for those pads to go for your sake, your dog's sake, and the sake of your nose.

More importantly, those dirty pads are pretty nasty and unhealthy, so missing one could be a really bad thing.  Even more importantly, no one wants to step on one of those pads in the middle of the night.

Defining Tasks

Now that you have your dog trained to do his business on the pads, you have a couple of challenges to overcome in order to get him to start going outside. First, by leaving the pee pads on the floor for your pup to use whenever he needed to go without telling you, you have to teach him to let you know when he needs to go so you can let him out.

However, teaching your pup to let you know when he needs to go and then getting him to go outside is a very important step in his becoming an adult. On top of this, you won't have any more of that awful smell in your home.

Getting Started

There are a few things you might find come in handy when training your dog to stop using the pee pads and to go outside.

  • Treats: To reward your dog when he lets you know he needs to go outside.
  • Cleaning Supplies: To clean up any accidents during the transition phase.
  • Endless Patience: Training your pup is going to take time and will involve a few accidents, so be patient clean up the mess and keep working with him. It won't take long before he starts letting you know he has to go.

The Out the Door Method

Most Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
At the door
Put your dog's pee pad by the door and get him used to using it. Reward him with praise and a treat.
Step
2
Moving on out
The next time you see him use the pad, gently pick him and the freshly soiled pad up and go outside.
Step
3
On the ground
Place the pad and your dog on the ground and stand by him. Encourage him to "go" using phrases like "Go Potty" or "Go pee" to help him learn to go potty on command.
Step
4
Going outside
If you are lucky enough that your dog "goes" outside, shower him with praise and treats.
Step
5
If he doesn't go
If he doesn't go within the first 3 or 4 minutes take him back inside and try again in a few minutes.
Recommend training method?

The Sliding Pad Method

Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Set a single pad
Get your dog used to a single pad in the same location for a few days.
Step
2
The slow move
Each time you put a fresh pad on the floor, move it a little closer to the door.
Step
3
Keep the treats flowing
Each time your dog goes on the pad in its new location, give him a treat and plenty of praise.
Step
4
To the door
Move the pad all the way to the door and treat your pup when he uses it. Repeat this with the door open.
Step
5
Out the door at last
Finally move the pad outside and treat your dog when he uses it. The last step is to stop using pads altogether and let your dog pick his spot out in the yard.
Recommend training method?

The Outside Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Observation
Observe your dog and watch for him to make signs he has to go to the bathroom.
Step
2
Ask the question
The best way to find out if your dog needs to go outside is to ask him. Try, "Outside?" or "Need to go outside?" in a happy, questioning voice.
Step
3
What's he looking at?
If he stops and looks at the door, ask him again.
Step
4
Reward time
If he genuinely looks like he might go to the door, go open it and encourage him to "go outside" If he does, give him lots of praise and a treat.
Step
5
Repeat
Once he has started to put the question and the action together, you can start asking him every half hour or so until he simply starts coming to you to let you know he needs to go out. Lots of praise and treats will help him learn fast.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Teddy
shih tzu maltese
22 Months
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Question
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Teddy
shih tzu maltese
22 Months

Hello. Teddy does great during the day when it comes to housebreaking. He does #2 100% outside and on walks, and for the most part, he does the same for #1. But at night, he still frequently pees on pee pads, even if I take him out before going to bed. I don’t think crate training would be good for him as he does not like to be isolated. Ultimately I would like to eliminate the pee pads as well as him peeing in the house. Thank you so much!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kensley, Crate Training would be the easiest and most likely approach to work, but I would try removing the pee pads at night, having pup sleep somewhere that there is not carpeting, and setting an alarm to take pup outside midway through the night. If pup can hold it that long, set the alarm later and later very gradually over a 2-3 week period, until pup is holding it all the way until morning. If you find pup is still having accidents even then, you will need to crate train pup at least temporarily to motivate him to hold it overnight and help with wakeups. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Vali
Cocker Spaniel
11 Weeks
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Question
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Vali
Cocker Spaniel
11 Weeks

My puppy is used to using the puppy pads inside. I have started taking her outside every hour and even putting puppy pads on the floor outside but she doesn't seem to want to go and she just holds it until she’s back inside, she then goes in the pads.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Gina, If you are trying to switch pup to only pottying outside, not using the pee pads at all eventually, I recommend using the crate Training method from the article linked below. When pup doesn't go potty when you take them outside, crate pup for thirty to sixty minutes (every thirty minutes the first few days until they go potty), then take them back outside to try again. Repeat this about every hour until pup finally goes potty outside. When they do go potty, praise enthusiastically and give pup seven tiny treats, one treat at a time as a reward. Be sure that the crate is only big enough for pup to stand up, turn around, and lie down, and not so big pup can go potty on one end and stand in the opposite end to avoid it, or it may not encourage pup to hold it in the crate. Also, don't put anything absorbent in the crate with pup, including soft dog beds or towels at this age. You can use something similar to www.primopads.com or k9ballistics.com for non-absorbent bed options. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside I would also start all of this at the beginning of a weekend or days when you will be home, since it will mean a lot of trips outside the first couple days, until pup realizes that going potty outside means treats, then they should start to gradually go more easily when you take them. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bentley
Cavapoo
14 Weeks
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Question
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Bentley
Cavapoo
14 Weeks

I have been wee wee pad training my dog and he goes on the pad 80% of the time. I want him to learn to go outside but every time I take him he just eats the leaves and sniffs around. He won’t even allow me to walk him on a leash. How do I transition him from the pads to outside?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Morgan, I recommend placing a pee pad outside at first - since that will be more familiar to pup. I then recommend following the Crate Training method from the article I have linked below. Take pup potty after an hour. Walk pup around slowly on the leash, telling puppy to "Go Potty" calmly for 15 minutes - the movement can help pup be less distracted and help them feel the urge to go. If pup goes potty - great! Praise pup and give them five small treats or pieces of kibble, one at a time, then go back inside, giving pup 1 hour of freedom before crating for 30 minutes to one hour before taking back outside, or taking back outside immediately. If pup doesn't go potty when you take them outside, calmly return inside and crate pup for 30-60 minutes. After that time, take pup back outside and try again. Repeat the process of taking pup outside and crating pup inside between potty trips if they don't go, every hour, until they finally go potty outside and you can reward them. I would start this when you have a couple of days off work or at home, since pup will need to be taken out very often every hour at first. After being rewarded several times for pottying outside, not having accidents inside because of careful confinement and potty schedule, pup should start to go potty more easily when taken outside - they will probably try to hold it pretty long the first time, until they see that good things happen when they go outside. When you set up the crate, make sure its only big enough for pup to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Too big and it won't utilize pup's natural desire to keep a confined space clean - you don't want pup to be able to go potty in one end and stand in the opposite end to avoid the accident. Also, don't put anything absorbent in the crate, including a soft bed or towel. You can use something non-absorbent like www.primopads.com or k9ballistic.com crate mats if you want to give pup a bed in the crate. An absorbent material in the crate will encourage pup to pee in there - especially since they are already pee pad trained. Never put a pee pad in the crate especially. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Piper
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
9 Months
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Question
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Piper
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
9 Months

Piper uses her potty pad but does not want to go outside. She has a 5 year old cocker sister that goes outside great. I want to get rid of the potty pads. She loves being outside but will not go to the bathroom and as soon as we get back in goes to the potty pad.

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

Hello! I would stop the pads cold turkey. The reason is dogs usually need a long adjustment period if you make ANY changes to their bathroom routines. So any change you make, you will have to essentially re-train her to go in that setting. You may as well just cut out all the extra work and go cold turkey. I am going to send you quite a bit of info on potty training, as well as some info on crate training just in case you run into issues with potty training. It is remedial and worded towards puppies. But you will have to train her as if she were a brand new puppy once you make the change. 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
Coco
Maltipoo
5 Months
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Question
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Coco
Maltipoo
5 Months

My puppy is fully pee pad and crate trained. I’ve tried to use the outdoor method but my dog is holding it. He hasn’t gone since last night. Over 10 hours. He doesn’t seem to want to go on the grass and I’m not sure how to tell Him it’s okay to use the grass. I’ve tried taking the pee pad outside as well and he just sits there.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Samantha, I recommend gradually moving the pee pad toward the outside door and then outside. Move it just inches at a time over the course of 1-2 weeks. Once he is using the pee pad while its outside, slowly begin to cut it smaller, one inch at a time, until up is going potty on the grass under it. Once the pee pad is outside, also start rewarding pup for going potty on it and especially on the grass underneath it - so that treats are associated with going potty outside. Remove all other pee pads from inside and crate pup when their bladder isn't empty if they they won't go potty on the pee pad yet, giving them another chance to go on the pee pad/outside once its outside every hour. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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