How to Train Your Dog to Use a Pee Pad

Medium
4-8 Weeks
General

Introduction

There may be many reasons a dog needs to be trained to pee on a pee pad. Dog owners who are immobile may not be able to take their dog outside often enough for the dog to eliminate. Some owners train puppies on pee pads before training the dog to go outside. City dwellers without yards might decide to use a pee pad for their dog inside the apartment. Moreover, older dogs who might not make it outside may find their last years easier using a pee pad. Small breed dogs are often taught to use pee pads because the outdoor elements may be difficult for them to handle as the seasons change. Teaching your dog to use a pee pad could eliminate stress for you as well as your dog. He will not be left fearing punishment after having an accident, and you will not have to worry about messes to clean from carpets and floors.

Defining Tasks

Using a verbal command such as “potty” will help teach your dog where to go. Pee pad training your dog is not difficult, but it does require patience. To be successful, someone will have to be with your dog for long periods of time over the first few days to show him your expectations for using the pee pads. Puppies will be easier to train to use pee pads, however, adults can be trained as well. It just may take more time and patience, as you are not only teaching him a new skill but potentially changing previous habits. If you want your dog to eliminate on a pee pad always, be prepared for the materials you need and have a space partitioned off within your home to do the training. Keep the pads in the same place, because moving them may require retraining for your dog.

Getting Started

You will need a few items on hand before you begin to train your dog to pee on pee pads.

  • Pee pads
  • Treats for rewards
  • Patience
  • Time with the dog to encourage eliminating every hour or two

The Room of Pee Pads Method

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Room of Pee Pads method for Use a Pee Pad
Step
1
Set up
Place pee pads across the entire floor of a small room. When possible, use a hard surface floor instead of carpet.
Step
2
Introduce command
As your dog is learning to use the pee pads, place him in the room with a “potty” command or another verbal cue.
Step
3
Get acquainted
Each time you visit the room with your pup, let him sniff around without allowing him to play.
Step
4
Reward
Once the dog eliminates, use the command word again and offer your dog a treat.
Step
5
Timing
While training, be sure to visit the room often. About ten minutes after eating, visit the pee pad room with your dog, repeating the steps above.
Step
6
Monitor and reinforce
Keep a close eye on your dog as he trains to use the pee pads. Reward for positive behaviors and redirect if he has an accident elsewhere.
Step
7
Keep it up
Keep actively training your dog until he can go into the room by himself to eliminate.
Step
8
Reduce pee pads
As he learns what the pads are for, you can remove some pads and keep only what you need in that room instead of covering the entire floor.
Recommend training method?

The Keeping a Pee Pad Method

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Keeping a Pee Pad method for Use a Pee Pad
Step
1
Location
Keep your puppy partitioned off and confined to a small area, either a room or a crate large enough for your dog to have a sleeping area separate from her potty area.
Step
2
Set up
Cover the entire potty area with pee pads and leave your dog.
Step
3
Introduce command
Take your dog to the potty pad often and use the “potty” command.
Step
4
Reward
Reward good behaviors while on the pad.
Step
5
Redirect
If your puppy begins to play or does not eliminate after a few minutes, remove him from the pad and place him back in his sleeping or playing area.
Step
6
Repeat
Repeat these steps often, keeping in mind a puppy can typically hold his bladder one hour for every month he is old.
Step
7
Redirect
If your dog has an accident, blot the urine onto a paper towel and place the paper towel on the pee pad to attract your dog’s sense of smell.
Step
8
Reduce pads
Over time, as your dog learns to use the pee pad, you can decrease the number of pee pads in your dog’s space and open his space to include more of the house.
Recommend training method?

The Keeping Your Dog Away from Pee Pads Method

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Keeping Your Dog Away from Pee Pads method for Use a Pee Pad
Step
1
Monitor
Keep a close eye on your dog as you bond and play together.
Step
2
Go to pee pad
Every few minutes, leash walk your dog to a pee pad you have in a separate place within your home.
Step
3
Introduce command
Place your dog on the pee pad and say a command such as “potty,” so he can associate the word with the action of eliminating.
Step
4
Redirect
Only keep your dog on the pee pad for a few minutes. If he does not eliminate, do not allow him to play.
Step
5
Leave potty area
Leash walk him back to the area where you two play and bond.
Step
6
Repeat
Continue this process with the understanding that once he goes, he should be able to hold his bladder one hour for every month he is old.
Step
7
Reward
Once he is successful, use the command and treat reward for praise.
Step
8
Continue
Repeat this process until your dog begins to lead you on his leash to the puppy pad himself. Remember to reward your dog each time he uses the potty on the pee pad
Step
9
Train with accidents
Try to catch him in an accident and take him to the pee pad with command words and a treat if he is successful.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Holly
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Holly
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
3 Years

We just rescued a puppy mill breeding female this week. She has only done her business 3 times in 4 days... all inside the house. She does not understand the leash or steps and may never have experienced grass. The rescue organization had an outdoor kennel for her on a hard surface, so we are trying that. We also taped down a pee pad to a hard surface in our family room. The accidents were always when nobody was in the room with her. Thanks for your thoughts!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
151 Dog owners recommended

Hello Shelly, When you are home follow the "Tethering" method from the article that I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside When you are gone, check out the "Exercise Pen" method from the article that I have linked below to prevent accidents. Use a real grass pad for the exercise pen method and at first cover the entire exercise pen with a real grass pad (or a piece of grass sod with something waterproof like a large shallow plastic bin under it). Confining her to the exercise pen and grass inside will help prevent accidents and get her comfortable with going potty on the grass. When you see her go potty there or she goes potty outside, reward her with five treats, one at a time - especially if it's outside because you want that to be the most exciting place to pee. The article linked below mentions litter box training but most of the steps are the same for using a grass pad(s) instead. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Real grass pad: (you will probably need to lay down more than one in the exercise pen at first to cover the exercise pen - you want to make the exercise pen big enough that she can pee on one end and lay on the other clean end). https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Patch-Disposable-Potty-Grass/dp/B005G7S6UI/ref=asc_df_B005G7S6UI/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=309763115430&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=3995932458694647996&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1015431&hvtargid=pla-568582223506&psc=1 Porch potty also sells just the grass without a box, as well as fancier (and more expensive) permanent grass boxes. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Rocky
Cocker Spaniel
6 Weeks
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Rocky
Cocker Spaniel
6 Weeks

I want to train him to potty inside his crate, located in the living room, and sleep on a little bed, also located in the living room. How can I do so efficiently?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
151 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alexandra, First of all unless that was a typo on your request, I STRONGLY recommend that you do NOT teach Rocky to use the potty INSIDE of a crate. That will make all future crate training and possibly potty training attempts, as well as the ability to travel with your dog, board your dog, and possibly re-home your dog if needed almost impossible. A dog has a natural instinct to hold his bladder in a confined, den-like space, which a crate resembles. This instinct can be utilized for potty training and teaching a dog to keep his areas clean, which many dogs are able to eventually generalize to the rest of your home, for potty training. A crate is also an important tool for dealing with separation anxiety, preventing destructive chewing, boredom barking, self-soothing, self-entertainment, and for confining him to keep him safe. Teaching a dog to pee in a crate prevents you from using the crate for any of those purposes. If you wish to train this, then I suggest using a litter box without a lid instead, so that you will still be able to use a crate for other things later on. The litter box will also be more open so that it should not interfere with the instinct to hold his bladder in a confined space, since he will not be locked in an enclosed, den-like area, but will instead be in an open box type area. To litter box train, check out the article that I have linked below. You can use a real grass pad or another potty material inside the litter box structure in place of the litter if you wish. Just make sure that the potty material does not resemble other materials in your home, like fabric and carpeting and rugs. If it does resemble those things, then you might end up with a puppy who pees on rugs and fabric too because she does not understand the difference. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy To teach him to sleep on his own bed check out the article that I have linked below. Anytime that you catch him laying on his own bed without being told after you have taught him to go there using one of the methods from the article, then randomly go over to him without saying anything and place a treat between his paws to encourage him to lay on his bed more in the future by choice. https://wagwalking.com/training/sleep-in-a-dog-bed Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Izzy
Pug-Zu
8 Weeks
2 found helpful
Question
2 found helpful
Izzy
Pug-Zu
8 Weeks

My puppy is doing really well with peeing on her pee pads but not so well with pooping. She will do it almost anywhere besides the pads. Is there anything I can do to make her more sucessful with this? Thanks

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
151 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kate, The first thing that you can try to help Izzy poop on the pad is to purchase a spray designed to encourage elimination. This spray can be found at most large pet stores or online. It is typically called "Hurry Spray", "Training Spray", "Puppy Training Spray", or something similar. Spray the spray onto the pad and lead her over to the area. Encourage her to sniff the pad by keeping her on a leash near the pad or by placing the pad into an exercise pen so that she cannot wander off. Also, make sure that you lead her over to the pee pad fifteen minutes after she eats, in addition to normal potty break times, because most puppies this age need to poop after eating. Keep her by the pee pad for up to thirty minutes after you take her, after she has eaten. Tell her to "Go Potty" so that she will learn that phrase overtime. If she goes, then praise her when she finishes and give her five small treats that she likes, one treat at a time. Whenever she is free, supervise her closely, and if she tends to wander away from you and have accidents, then attach her to yourself when she is free for as long as she is still potty training, with a light weight leash. If you see her squat down or begin to sniff around to find an area to poop, then quietly and quickly rush her over to the pee pad and tell her to "Go Potty" there. If she gets distracted again, then spray the spray onto the pad and let her sniff it to remind her what she is supposed to be doing. After she is pooping on the pad regularly, then you can leave one small poop on the pad rather than use the spray, to encourage her to continue pooping there, until she is potty trained. If you prefer the spray, then you can continue to use that instead though. The key with all of this is to encourage her to eliminate on the pads with scent, to prevent her from being allowed to eliminate anywhere else by supervising her closely, and to reward her when she goes so that she will want to poop on the pad in the future. Be sure to clean up an accidents with a pet safe cleaner that contains enzymes because only enzymes will break down the poop enough to remove the smell for a dog. Any remaining smell will encourage her to poop in that same location. If none of that works, then you will need to use a crate for a little while. To use a crate, follow the "Crate Training" method found in the article bellow. Instead of taking your puppy outside like the method describes, when it is time for her to go, lead her over to the pee pad instead. Once she is consistently pooping on the pee pad and not in other places, then you can stop using the crate if you wish. Here is the crate training article: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Another option is to utilize an Exercise Pen when you cannot supervise her, so that she cannot wander away from where the pee pad is. To use an Exercise Pen follow the "Exercise Pen" method in this article bellow, and simply substitute the litter box in this method for a pee pad, unless you would prefer to switch to a litter box in general. Here is the Exercise Pen method article: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy If you are still having issues after trying all of that, they you might need to consider switching to a litter box or to taking her outside to eliminate. She might have an aversion to pooping on the soft, fabric type material of the pee pads. I would not worry about that possibility until she is closer to twelve weeks and showing no improvement at all in this area despite you following the training, unless you simply want to make the switch. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Jax
Miniature Goldendoodle
2 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Jax
Miniature Goldendoodle
2 Months

Hi there. I have a question about pee pad training. I live in a small apartment in NYC and will be using pee pads until the dog is fully vaccinated because we have heard recommendations not to let the dog down outside until he is vaccinated. We do not have a separate room to make a "pee pad room". Would you suggest the leash pee pad method is the best? Also to then transition the dog to outside training once he is vaccinated? If we use the leash method, will the dog eventually know to go to the pee pad to eliminate even if he does not have the leash on him?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
151 Dog owners recommended

Hello Zoey, I actually suggest a completely different approach for potty training right now since you want to train Jax to pee outside when he is older. Using pee pads and then later removing the pee pads and transitioning to outside can cause many dogs to have accidents on rugs and carpet because pee pads are made out of fabric and resemble rugs to dogs. You essentially end up accidentally training the dog to pee on rugs when he cannot find a pee pad to go on. To avoid that I suggest using real grass pads and exercise pens for puppies. Real grass pads as disposable boxes of grass. Using grass teaches the puppy to prefer peeing on grass - which makes transitioning to outside easier later. Grass also does not closely resemble anything in your home, so when you remove the grass pad later it will be less confusing for the puppy. Putting a grass pad in a sturdy exercise pen serves two main benefits. 1. It gives your dog a specific area to pee in - like a bathroom, rather than teaching your puppy that he can pee anywhere in your home. When you remove the pad later, you can also remove the exercise pen, removing both the toilet (grass pad) and bathroom (exercise pen), so that the only toilet and bathroom option is outside on that grass. 2. It allows you to confine your puppy in the exercise pen when you have to leave or cannot supervise him, so that he will not be loose in the house, having accidents and getting into mischief. If you plan to crate train later, you can either use a combination of the "Exercise Pen" method and the "Crate Training" method from the article that I have linked below now to start the training, or you can use the "Exercise Pen" method but attach the crate to the side of the pen as part of his exercise pen area, so that he simply gets used to sleeping and hanging out in the crate right now. Doing this will make the transition to crate training for potty training easier later. Make sure that there is not anything absorbent in the crate or exercise pen, other than the grass pad. If you need a bed for the crate, I suggest using a primopads.com. The article that I have linked below mentions litter box training for the "Exercise Pen" method and the "Crate Training" method, but you can use grass pads in place of the litter box and still follow all the same steps. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Real grass pads: https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Patch-Disposable-Potty-Grass/dp/B005G7S6UI https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EQJ7I7Y/ref=sspa_dk_detail_3?psc=1 Each pad is advertised to last two weeks. You can also make your own grass pads by purchasing a shallow wide storage bin and a piece of grass sod and cutting the sod to size, just make sure that the sod has not been treated with chemical recently though. When you get ready to transition to potty training outside, I suggest using the "Crate Training" method from the article I have linked below. That will likely be the least confusing method for Jax. Another option is to use the "Tethering" method found in that article. Either way, you don't want Jax to have unsupervised freedom during the transition (or in general at that age), because he may have accidents while he is re-learning that the potty is now located outside.You will need to take him out very frequently. The timelines from that article are written for puppies 8-16 weeks old. Puppies older than that can hold their bladders for a bit longer between potty trips. Also, when you catch Jax peeing or pooping on the grass inside, you can go ahead and start telling him to "Go Potty" right before he goes potty, and then reward him with a treat afterward. This will make the transition outside easier later because you can tell him to "Go Potty" also and he will understand what that means. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside You might also want to check out the free pdf eBook "AFTER You Get Your Puppy" for tips on how to safely socialize a puppy without exposing them to disease as much. Essentially, take your puppy with you as many places as you can, but just carry him anywhere where a dog may have been, because it is the feces dirt carried on paws and shoes and on the ground that is a risk for Parvo, and direct touching contact with other sick dogs. If you can avoid the ground and non-vaccinated dogs, then you can minimize your risk without having to miss out on socialization. The most important part of the socialization window closes about when a puppy becomes fully vaccinated. Also, take your shoes off and put them somewhere where puppy cannot get to them since they will track dirt into the house. www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Frank
Dachshund
9 Weeks
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Frank
Dachshund
9 Weeks

The first few days we brought frank home, he did really well going to the bathroom on his pee pads. Now it seems every day he is getting worse. Having more “accidents”and deliberately not going on them. I will take him to the pad and say “potty” every hour or when he looks like he needs to go and he won’t go then will go immediately once he hits a soft surface. Today he went in his bed twice and his crate once within minutes after i took him and he would not go on the pad. Sometimes he even looks me in the eye as he goes where he knows not to. He never has gone in his bed or crate before. Everyday seems to get a little worse and further away. What is going wrong

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
151 Dog owners recommended

Hello Amy, I suggest switching from using pee pads to using a real grass pad or a litter box. Some puppies have a very hard time differentiating pee pads from other surfaces like rugs and carpets. They naturally do not feel like they should be peeing there. Once you make the switch, if you want him to use an indoor toilet, then follow the "Exercise Pen" or "Crate Training" method from the article that I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy If you want him to learn to go potty outside later, then go ahead and start that process by following the "Tethering" method or the "Crate Training" method from the article that I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Also, here is a link to a real grass pad. They are more expensive but each one is advertised to last two weeks. https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Patch-Disposable-Potty-Grass/dp/B005G7S6UI Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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