How to Train Your Older Dog to Use a Pee Pad

How to Train Your Older Dog to Use a Pee Pad
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-4 Weeks
General training category iconGeneral

Introduction

Your dog has been in your life for as long as some of your kids. You’ve seen him grow up from the energetic ball of fur he was when he was a puppy to the older and more subdued dog he is today. He’s an integral part of the family. With age though has come health problems. He’s no longer able to make it for long walks or great distances to go for a pee. He either ends up giving up before you’ve managed to get him to a suitable toilet spot, or he relieves himself on your floors. You’re not the biggest fan of cleaning up pee and it doesn’t give the house quite the smell you’d like either.

Training him to use a pee pad only comes with benefits. It will save you considerable time taking him out to go to the toilet. It will also save him from pain and discomfort if he can no longer make the trek to the bathroom.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Defining Tasks

The good news is, training your pooch to use a pee pad is pretty easy. He may be aging, but don’t let it be said that an old dog can’t learn new tricks! You simply need to incorporate the pee pad into his toilet routine. That means consistent use and as few slip-ups as possible. You’ll also need to take steps to make the pee pad as inviting as possible. Treats or toys will go a long way to motivate him to embrace his new toilet patch as well. If he’s still pretty receptive you could see results in just a week. If he’s really old and stuck in his ways then you may need a few weeks to fully affect change.

However long it takes, it will be worth it when you have a straightforward clean-up, instead of a soaked carpet. You’ll also help keep him comfortable if he’s got health conditions.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Getting Started

Before you get to work, you’ll need a few things. A pee pad will, of course, be the first essential. You’ll also need a generous supply of mouth-watering treats or his favorite food. Simply break the food into small, easily digestible pieces.

The hardest component is time. You need to set aside time in the morning, midday, afternoon and evening, to ensure a consistent routine. With such a time sacrifice also comes with the requirement of patience and an optimistic attitude.

Once you have all of that, you’re ready to make a start!

arrow-up-icon

Top

The Set Up Method

Most Recommended

1 Vote

Ribbon icon

Most Recommended

1 Vote

Ribbon icon
1

Enclosure

Place the pee pad in a location he’ll be comfortable in. Placing it against a wall with some degree of privacy is a good idea. If he has three walls around him he’ll feel even more at ease. It’s best to get the position right from the beginning, you’ll get much quicker results.

2

Easy to clean

Make sure it’s easy to clean. You may want to keep it close to a sink, drain or trash can. All of this will stop you carrying a wet pad throughout the entire house every day. This will save you time and ensure consistency for him.

3

Size

Pick a pad that is the right size for him. If he’s a bigger dog he’ll need a bigger than average size. If it’s cramped he won’t feel relaxed and comfortable and you’ll find it much harder to convince him to use it regularly.

4

Privacy

Make sure it’s in a place where he’ll got some privacy. If there is constantly people walking past it, he won’t be able to relax. You wouldn’t want people staring at you when you go to the toilet, and neither does he.

5

Easy access

Also make sure he can get to the pee pad easily. If he has to trek half a mile to get to it, he may opt for the lazy option and use the floor instead. Also, try and keep it away from where he eats and plays. Nobody likes going to the toilet where they eat, not even dogs. The corner of a utility room if often a sensible choice.

The Familiarization Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Introductions

Put him on a leash and walk him around his new toilet. Encourage him to sniff and take an interest. Do this at least a couple of times a day for a few minutes. The more he’s used to it, the more likely he’ll be to use it.

2

Get animated

When you’re around it, talk in an animated voice to get him excited. If he sees it as somewhere he can feel happy and relaxed he’ll be more inclined to use it. Dogs mirror their owners' behavior so he’ll look to you for approval of the pee pad.

3

Routine

When you think he’s likely to need the toilet, put him on a leash and walk him to the pad. Encourage him to go, but also make sure you give him some privacy by facing the other way. If he’s always at the pee pad when he needs to go he’ll soon get into the habit of using it.

4

Reward

When he does go, make sure you give him a tasty reward. A treat or his favorite food will help cement it as his new favorite toilet location. The better the reward the quicker you’ll see results. Also give him plenty of verbal praise.

5

Don’t punish him

If he does pee outside or somewhere else, don’t punish him. His bladder will already be getting weaker because he’s older, you don’t want him to start peeing out of fear. This will make it even harder for him to control it and go where you want him to.

The Verbal Cue Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Routine

Make sure you take him to the pee pad regularly, whenever you think he’s likely to need the toilet. 20 minutes or so after meals, the morning and the evening are all likely times. If he’s always at the pee pad, he’ll be much more likely to use it.

2

‘Go pee’

As he starts to pee on the pad, give a ‘go pee’ command. You can use any word or phrase you like. Just make sure you give the command in an upbeat, high pitched voice. You want him to associate this command with good things and relaxing.

3

Reward

As soon as he’s finished his pee, give him a tasty treat and some praise. He’ll soon start associating the verbal cue with going for a pee on the pad and a delicious reward. Soon the command alone will make him charge for the pee pad to relieve himself in the hope of food. Practice this every day for a few days.

4

Bring forward the cue

After several consistent days of using the verbal cue, start giving the cue before he goes for a pee. By this point he’ll associate the trigger with the pee pad and his bladder will probably automatically start to relax. Continue to reward him after he goes.

5

Practice

You now simply need to practice this every day. If he has any slip-ups, clean them up calmly and make sure you get him to the pad next time. He’ll soon start naturally using the pee pad to go to the toilet, at which point you can top using the verbal cue and you can cut out the treats.

By James Barra

Published: 11/21/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

Have a question?

Training Questions and Answers

Dog nametag icon

Alex

Dog breed icon

Cocker Spaniel

Dog age icon

2 Years

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

User generated photo

Basically, he had a urinary infection when he was 5 months old. He was toilet trained and was using an indoor artificial grass. Up to that point everything was totally fine. When he had the infection he couldn’t hold his pee for about 3 days and he cried a lot. He would play and pee himself. After these 3 days, he stopped using the pad and started waiting for me to take him out. During that time it was relatively ok. I had someone to help me with him and the park was where I lived. Now, my conditions have changed, it’s just the 2 of us and I live in a flat with him. So I’m basically a slave of taking him out, always worried if he peed enough and having to pay someone to take him out when I can’t be there. It’s just not sustainable and I need something to be done. I tried training him in the past. Bought a small piece of real grass and put outside (in a patio area). Took him on a leash throughout the day. In the morning I waited for 2h there standing and telling him to do it. He just sits and stares at me. I tried in the same afternoon. I end up breaking at some point, telling him off and taking him out at the end because I know he is suffering. So, if you feel like there’s any solution for this apart from locking him in the house for the day please let me know. I don’t know what else to do. Thanks

June 20, 2022

Alex's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Natalie, I would try purchasing a disposable real grass pad. Putting it outside where pup will go potty on it when taken on leash, with that as his only pottying option. I would also spray a potty encouraging spray onto the pad before taking pup, tell pup Go Potty when you take them to the pad, and give a treat if they go potty on it. Once pup is pottying on that pad well, I would put down a piece of plastic just slightly larger than the grass pad where you want pup's pad to go inside your home and put the grass pad that was outside inside on the plastic (I know the pad will be gross at first. Bag up any poop before moving it, but the smell of pup's previous potty trips to the pad should help pup go on it inside). Either take pup to that pad on leash, telling pup "Go Potty" and giving a treat for pup going potty on it inside, OR set up an exercise pen around the pad, with a non-absorbent bed and water source inside the pen along with the grass potty, and wait pup out, with pup in the pen. Give pup their space but keep an eye out from across the room and praise and reward and let pup out of the pen as soon as you see them finally go on the pad inside. Exercise pen method or crate method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 21, 2022

Dog nametag icon

Estrella

Dog breed icon

Chihuahua

Dog age icon

12 Years

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

She won't use the training pad and will hold it till we take her outside. She will last days without going potty unless we take her outside. How can I make her use the pad without her holding it for days.

May 22, 2022

Estrella's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cecilia, I am guessing that pup was previously used to going potty outside and due to old age and decreasing bladder control pup is being switched to inside potty training? If so, I would use something that's more familiar to pup - a disposable real grass pad, rather than the pee pad which is made of fabric and resembles carpets and rugs - something pup has learned over a decade to avoid peeing on. Disposable real grass pad brands: www.freshpatch.com www.porchpotty.com www.doggielawn.com Also on amazon Switching the indoor potty might be enough by itself, but you can also add a potty encouraging spray, such as "Hurry!" or "Go Here", spraying the area right before its time for pup to go potty. If pup is still struggling, you can place the pad outside, get pup used to going potty on it out there, where pup is less resistent to going potty already, then move the pad indoors for pup to go on there. Tell pup to "Go Potty" and give a treat whenever pup goes potty on the pad. You can then tell pup Go Potty and give a treat once the pad is moved back inside, so pup understands that it's okay to go potty on it. If pup is having accidents inside during this transition I would use the Crate training method or exercise pen method from this article below to prevent accidents while training. You can adjust the times since pup is older. And adult dog would normally go potty every 3-4 hours, repeating the potty trips every hour after that initial 3-4 hours if they didn't go potty when taken at first. Pup might need to be take more often than a younger adult if they are loosing bladder control also. This article mentions a litter box, but other indoor potties like grass pads and pee pads have the same steps to train. Exercise pen method or crate training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 23, 2022


Training assistant
Need training help?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2022 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.