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

ribbon-method-3
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 Outside Method

ribbon-method-1
Effective
1 Vote
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?

The Sliding Pad Method

ribbon-method-2
Least Recommended
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?
author-img

Written by Amy Caldwell

Published: 12/28/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Ruby
Border Terrier
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Ruby
Border Terrier
3 Years

My dog still uses a puppy pad to pee on at night. I know we shouldn't have let this go on so long. We have tried removing it and she just pees on the kitchen floor. How do we let her know not to. She is fine during the day.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1125 Dog owners recommended

Hello Christine, I recommend following the Crate Training method to teach this type of potty training, especially with pup's history of using pee pads. Since pup is older, you can adjust those times, adding 1-1.5 hours listed there, so pup is being taken out every 3-4 hours, crated after 2 hours of freedom, and taken back out if pup doesn't go at first every 1-1.5 hour after until they finally go. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside#:~:text=To%20begin%2C%20place%20him%20in,treats%2C%20one%20at%20a%20time. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Ruby's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Minnie
not sure
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Minnie
not sure
4 Years

Minnie’s owner just passed away. My daughter was her dog walker and we are going to adopt her. Minnie has used. Pee pad at her owners, and we have our dog go outside. I’d there a recommended way to retrain her to pee outside?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1125 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jill, I find that crate training often works best for previously pee pad trained dogs, since too much freedom inside without a pee pad often leads to accidents during the transition and you want pup to associate your home with cleanliness and not accidents as much as possible. I would go cold turkey, taking away all pee pads, taking pup potty outside and crating whenever pup's bladder isn't empty. If pup is refusing to go potty outside for longer than nine hours, I would also put a pee pad outside to take pup to, then slowly cut away at the pee pads over the course of a month until pup is just going on the grass under where the pee pad used to be eventually. Make sure you take pup to the same spot each time if you go this route, since pup will have to get used to going potty on that one location, similar to pee pad training, before they will be able to generalize it to the entire outside world. Reward pup with several small treats, given one at a time when pup goes potty outside, telling pup to "Go Potty" each time you take them out to do so, to help them learn that command so they can be reminded in the future that that's why they are outside. Check out the Crate Training method from the article linked below. Make sure that the crate doesn't have anything absorbent in it - including a soft bed or towel. Check out www.primopads.com if you need a non-absorbent bed for her. Make sure the crate is only big enough for her to turn around, lie down and stand up, and not so big that she can potty in one end and stand in the opposite end to avoid it. Dogs have a natural desire to keep a confined space clean so it needs to be the right size to encourage that natural desire. Use a cleaner that contains enzymes to clean any previous or current accidents - only enzymes will remove the small and remaining smells encourage the dog to potty in the same location again later. The method I have linked below was written for younger puppies, since your dog is older you can adjust the times and take her potty less frequently. I suggest taking her potty every 3 hours when you are home. After 1.5 hours (or less if she has an accident sooner) or freedom out of the crate, return her to the crate while her bladder is filling back up again until it has been 3 hours since her last potty trip. When you have to go off she should be able to hold her bladder in the crate for 5-7 hours - less at first while she is getting used to it and longer once she is accustomed to the crate. Only have her wait that long when you are not home though, take her out about every 3 hours while home. You want her to get into the habit of holder her bladder between trips and not just eliminating whenever she feels the urge and you want to encourage that desire for cleanliness in your home - which the crate is helpful for. Less freedom now means more freedom later in life. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If she is not already used to a crate expect crying at first. When she cries and you know she doesn't need to go potty yet, ignore the crying. Most dogs will adjust if you are consistent. You can give her a food stuffed hollow chew toy to help her adjust and sprinkle treats into the crate during times of quietness to further encourage quietness. If she continues protesting for long periods of time past three days, you can use a Pet Convincer. Work on teaching "Quiet" but using the Quiet method from the article linked below. Tell her "Quiet" when she barks and cries. If she gets quiet and stays quiet, you can sprinkle a few pieces of dog food into the crate through the wires calmly, then leave again. If she disobeys your command and keep crying or stops but starts again, spray a small puff of air from the Pet convincer at her side through the crate while saying "Ah Ah" calmly, then leave again. If she stays quiet after you leave you can periodically sprinkle treats into the crate to reward her quietness. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Only use the unscented air from the Pet Convincers - don't use citronella, it's too harsh and lingers for too long so can be confusing. Example of interruptions done with a dog that has separation anxiety and barks in the crate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3j882MAYDU While doing all of this, I would also practice some lure reward training with whatever commands or tricks you find useful with her to help her build her relationship with you on the basis of trust and respect, so she feels secure in her new home. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Minnie's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Phoebe
French Bulldog
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Phoebe
French Bulldog
5 Months

I am trying to train her to washable pad only. we have three homes and are constantly traveling. She poopoo's on the pad 90% of the time. When she pees in the floor we pop her hiney and then put her on the pad and tell her it was a nono. now she pees in the floor and runs and sits on the pad. how do i teach her to pee on the pad its like she halfway understands. we give her treats when she does it on the pad and praise her.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1125 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kim, Often the discipline during accidents will confuse some puppies and they will think they are being reprimanded for going potty in front of you - not off the pad. This can create issues with pup going potty on the pad when you are around because they think you will be mad if you see them go potty in front of you in general. Instead of focusing on discipling and bringing her to the pad when she has an accident, you will likely have more success by preventing accidents to begin with. Potty training is based on a dog's natural desire to keep a confined space clean. In order for pup to learn to keep your entire home clean, pup has to be accident free in the home consistently for a long period of time - then pup becomes self-motivated eventually to want to keep the home clean themselves and not just because you managed them to ensure it's kept clean. Inside potty training is based partially on teaching pup to go potty on a particular type of surface (pee pad in this case), but it's also based on location, so pup learns that this one particular spot is where to go potty. If you move the potty around a lot, this undermines the efforts and is confusing for pup. With that said, pup needs to have a certain location in each home that they can always expect the potty to be. To accomplish this and keep your home clean long enough for pup to develop a habit of wanting to keep it clean on their own, I would use the Exercise Pen method from the article I have linked below, using an exercise pen at each home, since you will have to train all three locations, using the exercise pen again at a location pup hasn't learned well with each location, even if pup is thoroughly potty trained at the first location by then. Exercise Pen method - this method mentions a litter box but the steps are the same with other indoor potty options. The Crate Training method is also another option, but that method tends to involve more work on your end than the exercise pen method. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy While not always necessary, something that can make this easier for a lot of puppies is to switch from pee pads to disposable real grass pads. Pee pads are made of fabric, which is also true of your carpet and rugs, so some dogs struggle with the difference (making a consistent potty location even more important). The grass pads tend to be a more obvious difference than the rest of the home and also transfer well to going potty outside when needed. If you find pup may be confusing those surfaces with each other, check out these grass pads. They are more expensive up front but each one can be used for longer than a pee pad before throwing away. www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com www.porchpotty.com Also on Amazon Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Phoebe's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Butter
Cocker Spaniel
8 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Butter
Cocker Spaniel
8 Weeks

Just starting out and I just need tips on potty training as well as commands and any other useful tips in puppy training

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1125 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tanya, Check out the Crate Training method from the article below. This method tends to work quickest and involves the fewest accidents along the way. There are two other methods in that article to choose from as well though. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Check out these videos of a puppy class. You will see there some great videos, handling, and socialization to get you started. Follow along with your puppy at home and practice the exercises to help with general basic obedience: Puppy Class videos: Week 1, pt 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnhJGU2NO5k Week 1, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-1-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 2, pt 1 https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-2-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 2, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-2-part-2-home-jasper-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 3, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-3-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 3, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-3-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 4, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-4-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 4, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-4-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 5, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-5-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 5, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-5-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 6, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-6-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 6, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-6-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1-0 Finally, check out the PDF e-book downloads found on this website, written by one of the founders of the association of professional dog trainers, and a pioneer in starting puppy kindergarten classes in the USA. Click on the pictures of the puppies to download the PDF books: https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Butter's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Remy
Rat Terrier, Italian Greyhound
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Remy
Rat Terrier, Italian Greyhound
1 Year

My dog just recently turned 1 year old and we have had him for ten months. We live in an apartment building on the highest floor and do not have a backyard. When we first got him we had to use the pee-pee pads because the sidewalks were not safe for him until he was fully vaccinated. Now we are trying to get him housetrained and go to the bathroom on the sidewalk but he wont, instead he holds it until we get him inside the house and goes on the floor. He also has no problem with going pee or poo on grass but we only have cement right outside our apartment building. Please help with any advice!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1125 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lucia, I would crate train pup and use the crate to potty train to ensure they can't just have accidents once back in the home, only giving freedom out of the crate while their bladder is empty after pottying outside. Check out the Crate Training method from the article linked below. Make sure that the crate doesn't have anything absorbent in it - including a soft bed or towel. Check out www.primopads.com if you need a non-absorbent bed for him. Make sure the crate is only big enough for him to turn around, lie down and stand up, and not so big that he can potty in one end and stand in the opposite end to avoid it. Dogs have a natural desire to keep a confined space clean so it needs to be the right size to encourage that natural desire. Use a cleaner that contains enzymes to clean any previous or current accidents - only enzymes will remove the small and remaining smells encourage the dog to potty in the same location again later. The method I have linked below was written for younger puppies, since your dog is older you can adjust the times and take him potty less frequently. I suggest taking him potty every 3 hours when you are home. After 1.5 hours (or less if she has an accident sooner) or freedom out of the crate, return him to the crate while his bladder is filling back up again until it has been 3 hours since his last potty trip. When you have to go off he should be able to hold his bladder in the crate for 5-7 hours - less at first while he is getting used to it and longer once he is accustomed to the crate. Only have him wait that long when you are not home though, take him out about every 3 hours while home. You want him to get into the habit of holder his bladder between trips and not just eliminating whenever he feels the urge and you want to encourage that desire for cleanliness in your home - which the crate is helpful for. Less freedom now means more freedom later in life. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If he is not already used to a crate, expect crying at first. When he cries and you know he doesn't need to go potty yet, ignore the crying. Most dogs will adjust if you are consistent. You can give him a dog food stuffed hollow chew toy to help him adjust and sprinkle treats into the crate during times of quietness to further encourage quietness. If he continues protesting for long periods of time past 3-5 days, you can use a Pet Convincer. Work on teaching "Quiet" but using the Quiet method from the article linked below. Tell him "Quiet" when he barks and cries. If he gets quiet and stays quiet, you can sprinkle a few pieces of dog food into the crate through the wires calmly, then leave again. If he disobeys your command and keep crying or stops but starts again, spray a small puff of air from the Pet convincer at his side through the crate while saying "Ah Ah" calmly, then leave again. If he stays quiet after you leave you can periodically sprinkle treats into the crate to reward quietness. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark To help pup get used to going potty on the concrete, I would see if there is an area outside where you could put a disposable real grass pad temporarily. You could also purchase a piece of grass sod to use. You only need to use these for about a month. Take pup potty on that grass, walking pup around it and across it slowly, while saying "Go Potty" happily to help stimulate the urge to go with movement too. Reward and praise pup enthusiastically for going potty on that spot. Once pup is going potty on that spot consistently between the rewards for going there and the crate inside, then you can gradually begin cutting away at that grass pad over the course of a month. Cut just a couple inches across at a time so its not very noticeable to pup that its getting smaller. Eventually you will have cut away enough of the grass for pup to be going potty partially on just concrete. Once the grass pad is down to just a couple inches, throw it away completely, leaving just concrete and continue taking pup potty to that same spot, since they will do best with the familiar location. When pup is doing well with that location, then you can add in new concrete spots too as needed. If you don't have the option of adding the grass temporarily, you can still teach this by being very strict with the crate training. You may need to carry pup to and from the crate at first, since pup going on the concrete will purely be because they have no other option to go potty besides concrete and crate, and concrete is preferable than crate. If you give pup a third option even on your way to the bathroom, pup may just squat and pee there. The grass will be a lot easier for pup if you have that option. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Remy's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd