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Sometimes when you are potty training your puppy, getting outside on time is not an option. If you have a disability or live in an apartment where getting to the outside takes some time, you may opt to train your puppy to use a pee pad indoors. Other scenarios where pee pads may be a good option are when you are going to have to leave your puppy for extended periods of time without being able to take him outside, such as when you are at work. It should be remembered though, that puppies need attention other than just a bathroom break, and leaving a puppy for extended periods of time without care is not a good option. Sometimes extenuating circumstances occur.
If pee pads are the way you are planning on training your puppy, there are a variety of commercially available options of absorbent pads, some are even scented to encourage your puppy to eliminate. Remember, however, that once you have trained your puppy to use a pee pad indoors, it may be more difficult to teach him to eliminate outdoors. Pee pads are a good solution in many circumstances though, when getting your puppy outside to pee is not viable.
When house training your puppy using pee pads, or any other method, the most important thing is to make sure that accidents do not happen by never leaving your puppy unsupervised or unconfined to an area where the puppy won't relieve himself, like a bed area or crate. You will also want to provide timely access to the pee pad, so your puppy has the opportunity to successfully go potty and be rewarded. Making the pee pad the best option by making it the only area other than feeding and sleeping spots can be useful to direct your puppy to use the pee pad for eliminating. Make sure your puppy always knows where his pee pad is, and take him to visit his pee pad frequently so he does not forget and have an accident somewhere else in your home. Remember most puppies need to use the potty shortly after waking up and within 30 minutes of eating. Capturing successful pee pad usage is more useful than trying to punish mistakes, which is rarely effective and is usually just confusing and upsetting for your puppy.
To successfully pee pad train your puppy, you will need treats to reward successful behavior, a method of confining your puppy to avoid accidents, like using a crate or pet play pen, and lots of time to supervise and capture when your puppy needs to “go”. Be consistent and resist punishing your puppy for accidents, as this is only confusing for your puppy. Instead, clean up accidents with enzyme cleaners that eliminate odors to reduce the likelihood of an accident occurring in the same location again. Commercial pee pads come in all shapes and sizes--purchase absorbent pee pads to prevent spills. You can even get pee pads that have odors that attract your puppy and encourage him to pee on them!
The Can't Miss Method
Choose a potty area
Choose a non-carpeted area of your home that will eventually become the permanent pee pad location. It is difficult to move potty locations once your puppy has established that a certain location is his “bathroom”.
Cover with pee pads
Confine your puppy to the area by setting up pet barriers to create a play pen. Cover the entire area with pee pads and keep your puppy confined there, so that he eliminates on pee pads whenever he needs to go.
Supervise when not on pee pads
When you remove your puppy from his area, wait until after you have just seen him eliminate on his pee pad to decrease the chance of accidents elsewhere, and supervise closely. If he looks like he is sniffing around looking for a bathroom spot, put your puppy back in his confined area immediately.
Remove pee pads gradually
Each week, take a pee pad away from the confine area until your puppy is using just one pee pad in the area, replace removed pee pads with bedding so your puppy has a comfortable area to rest.
Once your puppy is using his pee pad reliably, you can start opening the confinement area to allow your puppy more access to the house as long as he returns to the confinement area to use his pee pad.
The Best Option Method
Create 3 areas
Put your puppy in a confined area. Start fairly small with a pet playpen made from barriers. Have 3 spots inside to start, food, bed and pee pad.
Reward potty use
Puppies will avoid messing in their food area or bed so your puppy will choose the pee pad. Encourage and reinforce use of pee pad.
Enlarge confined area
Once your puppy is using the pee pad reliably, increase the area. Give your puppy access to a larger area; a mudroom, bathroom or add a hallway or entrance way area.
Clean up accidents
If your puppy has an accident, blot it up with paper towel and apply to the pee pad to act as an attractant.
Gradually start increasing the area you puppy can access, while still providing clear access to his pee pad, as long as the puppy continues to choose the pee pad as his spot to eliminate. If accidents start to happen, decrease the size of the confinement area again.
The Crate Training Method
Confine to crate
Put your puppy on a feeding schedule and confine him to a crate.
Set up pee pad
Prepare a spot with a pee pad where you can take your puppy to go potty.
Take your puppy to pee pad
Take your puppy every hour to his pee pad to go to the bathroom.
Return to crate
If your puppy does not go to the bathroom on the pee pad return him to his crate and try again later.
Reward pee pad use
If your puppy uses his pee pad, praise him and take him for play time, do not return him to his crate right away. Supervise closely to avoid accidents. Repeat until well established.
By Laurie Haggart
Published: 04/20/2018, edited: 01/08/2021