How to Train Your Dog to Stop Using Pee Pads

How to Train Your Dog to Stop Using Pee Pads
Easy difficulty iconEasy
Time icon1-6 Weeks
General training category iconGeneral

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.

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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.

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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.

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The Out the Door Method

Most Recommended

2 Votes

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Most Recommended

2 Votes

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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.

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.

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.

4

Going outside

If you are lucky enough that your dog "goes" outside, shower him with praise and treats.

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.

The Outside Method

Effective

1 Vote

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Effective

1 Vote

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1

Observation

Observe your dog and watch for him to make signs he has to go to the bathroom.

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.

3

What's he looking at?

If he stops and looks at the door, ask him again.

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.

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.

The Sliding Pad Method

Least Recommended

1 Vote

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1

Set a single pad

Get your dog used to a single pad in the same location for a few days.

2

The slow move

Each time you put a fresh pad on the floor, move it a little closer to the door.

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.

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.

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.

By Amy Caldwell

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

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Ruby

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Border Terrier

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3 Years

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Question

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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.

Dec. 3, 2021

Ruby's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 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

Dec. 3, 2021

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Minnie

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not sure

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4 Years

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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?

Oct. 26, 2021

Minnie's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 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

Oct. 27, 2021


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