How to Train Your Older Dog to Use a Pee Pad

Medium
1-4 Weeks
General

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.

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.

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!

The Set Up Method

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1 Vote
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Familiarization Method

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Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Verbal Cue Method

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0 Votes
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Rusty
AnimalBreed object
3 Years
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Rusty
AnimalBreed object
3 Years

We got him at the shelter 2 weeks ago. We live in a Senior apartment. He goes in the dog yard but I am 69 and it's hard to take him out 6 or 7 times a day.

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Bailee
AnimalBreed object
2 Years
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Question
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Bailee
AnimalBreed object
2 Years

My dog uses the puppy pad when she wants to. She pees mostly on the pad sometimes off but barely eliminates on the puppy pad. I am unsure how to get her to use it I've tried to teach her for a year and there has not been any change.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
91 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am going to give you some training information on how to work with your dog to use a potty pad. Choose Your Spot Pick a space in your house where you want your dog to go. Obviously, you’ll want this spot to be a low-traffic area. Make sure this spot is easily accessible to your dog, and make sure the floor surface is linoleum or tile, as opposed to carpet. If your dog “misses,” it will be easier to clean up. If the only spot you can put the pee pad is a carpet, you might consider getting a small tarp to put underneath the puppy pee pad to guard against spillage. Choose a spot that is outside of your “smell zone.” An important tip to remember is to make sure not to let your dog decide the spot he likes. Not only might he pick an area you won’t like, but he’ll learn that he is in charge – not you – which can cause a host of problems down the line. Monitor Your Dog When you are potty training your dog, full-time monitoring is an absolute necessity. It’s impossible to correct bad behaviors if you don’t see them happen. Dogs have very short memories. It is important to catch your dog in the act. If your dog goes on the floor, and you try to correct him hours after the fact, he will be confused and upset, not knowing what he did wrong. This can hinder training and your relationship with your dog. Puppies, in particular, must be watched constantly. They have less control over their bowels and will go when they have to go. If you miss these moments, you lose precious training opportunities. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to be with your dog 24 hours a day, but try to spend more time at home during the weeks you are potty training – it will pay off in the long run. Learn Your Dog’s Schedule Dogs, for the most part, are predictable. They will go to the bathroom at predictable times. You should be able to learn when your dog has to go based on timing as much as on his signals. Take some time to study your dog’s bathroom habits. You’ll learn the amount of time after he eats or drinks that he has to go, and you’ll get in rhythm with his daily bathroom schedule. This will help you reduce accidents and speed up the potty training process. Studying your dog’s habits can also help you identify his bathroom “triggers” – like having to go after a certain amount of playtime. Once you learn your dog’s schedule, use it to your advantage in potty training. Bring him to the pee pad a few minutes before he normally goes, and encourage him. This will help him get used to going in the right spot, and help you establish repetition in your training. Choose a Command Word Dogs have keen senses – they respond to sight, smell, and sound. When you begin pee pad training, choose a command word and use it every time you take your dog to the pad. Just about any word will work. The tone of your voice is more important than the actual word. Try phrases like “go on” or “go potty” in a slightly elevated, encouraging tone. Make sure to repeat this same command, in the same tone, every time you take your dog to the pee pad. Avoid Punishment When your dog has an accident, it’s just that – an accident. When you punish your dog during potty training, he will become confused and scared. He doesn’t know what he’s done wrong, and can’t understand why the person he loves most is mad at him. Most importantly, it will not help his potty training. Positive Reinforcement Both human and dog behavior is largely based on incentives. Dogs’ incentives are very simple – they want to eat when they are hungry, play when they are excited, and sleep when they are tired. But the most important thing your dog wants in life is to please you. Use this to your advantage. Whenever your dog goes on his potty training pad, shower him with lots of praise. If he sees that he gets praise for doing his business on the pad, he will be incentivized to keep going on the pad – and he’ll be excited to do it! Potty training – whether it’s a pee pad or going outside – will take time, but if you do it right, can take less time. Many dogs are potty trained in less than two weeks. Just remember that you and your dog are partners. Do everything you can to help him learn the proper etiquette, and you will enjoy a long, quality relationship together. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in.

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Question
bentley
AnimalBreed object
1 Year
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bentley
AnimalBreed object
1 Year

hi thank you , but he jus refuses to go on the pee pad he usually jus sits there i tried leaving him in the area until he goes but he wouldn’t go at all until i bring him outside & do you also have any tips on how to teach him the “sit” command he is very lazy & uninterested in training he isn’t food motivated at all we have bought a variety of treats but sometimes he will eat them but sometimes he won’t & if he is interested he will want you to give it to him at that time when i use the treats to put over his head making him follow it to sit he doesn’t listen he just goes away if you don’t give it to him & he also doesn’t eat very much when we give him food he doesn’t eat it he likes eating human food sometimes we give him chicken and he eats it but if we put it in his bowl he won’t eat it he just smells the food then goes away we found a wet food he really likes but still doesn’t eat it sometimes sometimes he doesn’t eat at all which isn’t good for him but to make him actually eat we feed him by a spoon and he eats it off from there or from the floor only times he eats it himself is when he is really hungry and mostly at night ( i have already gotten an email from a response from a trainer i tried to reply back but it doesn’t work so i’m redoing it on here , what i have been told is what i see all over google and youtube but it still doesn’t not work) my response was sent by “Alisha Smith”

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
91 Dog owners recommended

Hi there. If you are having trouble treat training him, and he is fairly unmotivated, then you may want to consider clicker training him. Clicker training incorporates treats, but I have worked with some dogs who are completely unmotivated by treats, and clicking alone has worked great. The clicker "marks" the behavior. They know what they just performed is correct without too much influence from you or treats. Because clicker training is a multi step process, I have included a link with a quick video regarding clicker training. Instead of treats, you can praise him. If you try this and he starts taking treats (because sometimes they do!) you can continue with click and treat. The idea is to catch them doing whatever it is you are wanting to train, and mark it with a click. So when he sits on his own, click, praise, treat. When he goes potty, same process. https://wagwalking.com/daily/clicker-training-for-dogs

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Rocco
AnimalBreed object
11 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Rocco
AnimalBreed object
11 Months

Rocco was doing so good peeing on his wee wee pad . This week i recently re-done the house & now rocco has neglected the pads & is peeing all over the house . PLEASE HELP!!

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
91 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am going to give you some training information on how to work with him to use a potty pad. Dogs have a hard time transferring learned information into new or changed locations. You will have to start over with pad training. Choose Your Spot Pick a space in your house where you want your dog to go. Obviously, you’ll want this spot to be a low-traffic area. Make sure this spot is easily accessible to your dog, and make sure the floor surface is linoleum or tile, as opposed to carpet. If your dog “misses,” it will be easier to clean up. If the only spot you can put the pee pad is a carpet, you might consider getting a small tarp to put underneath the puppy pee pad to guard against spillage. Choose a spot that is outside of your “smell zone.” An important tip to remember is to make sure not to let your dog decide the spot he likes. Not only might he pick an area you won’t like, but he’ll learn that he is in charge – not you – which can cause a host of problems down the line. Monitor Your Dog When you are potty training your dog, full-time monitoring is an absolute necessity. It’s impossible to correct bad behaviors if you don’t see them happen. Dogs have very short memories. It is important to catch your dog in the act. If your dog goes on the floor, and you try to correct him hours after the fact, he will be confused and upset, not knowing what he did wrong. This can hinder training and your relationship with your dog. Puppies, in particular, must be watched constantly. They have less control over their bowels and will go when they have to go. If you miss these moments, you lose precious training opportunities. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to be with your dog 24 hours a day, but try to spend more time at home during the weeks you are potty training – it will pay off in the long run. Learn Your Dog’s Schedule Dogs, for the most part, are predictable. They will go to the bathroom at predictable times. You should be able to learn when your dog has to go based on timing as much as on his signals. Take some time to study your dog’s bathroom habits. You’ll learn the amount of time after he eats or drinks that he has to go, and you’ll get in rhythm with his daily bathroom schedule. This will help you reduce accidents and speed up the potty training process. Studying your dog’s habits can also help you identify his bathroom “triggers” – like having to go after a certain amount of playtime. Once you learn your dog’s schedule, use it to your advantage in potty training. Bring him to the pee pad a few minutes before he normally goes, and encourage him. This will help him get used to going in the right spot, and help you establish repetition in your training. Choose a Command Word Dogs have keen senses – they respond to sight, smell, and sound. When you begin pee pad training, choose a command word and use it every time you take your dog to the pad. Just about any word will work. The tone of your voice is more important than the actual word. Try phrases like “go on” or “go potty” in a slightly elevated, encouraging tone. Make sure to repeat this same command, in the same tone, every time you take your dog to the pee pad. Avoid Punishment When your dog has an accident, it’s just that – an accident. When you punish your dog during potty training, he will become confused and scared. He doesn’t know what he’s done wrong, and can’t understand why the person he loves most is mad at him. Most importantly, it will not help his potty training. Positive Reinforcement Both human and dog behavior is largely based on incentives. Dogs’ incentives are very simple – they want to eat when they are hungry, play when they are excited, and sleep when they are tired. But the most important thing your dog wants in life is to please you. Use this to your advantage. Whenever your dog goes on his potty training pad, shower him with lots of praise. If he sees that he gets praise for doing his business on the pad, he will be incentivized to keep going on the pad – and he’ll be excited to do it! Potty training – whether it’s a pee pad or going outside – will take time, but if you do it right, can take less time. Many dogs are potty trained in less than two weeks. Just remember that you and your dog are partners. Do everything you can to help him learn the proper etiquette, and you will enjoy a long, quality relationship together. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in.

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Question
bentley
AnimalBreed object
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
bentley
AnimalBreed object
1 Year

my dog does not go on pee pads at all he will always go around the house or sometimes outside & he's not food or toy motivated so it’s hard to teach him tricks and he doesn’t know the “sit” command

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
91 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am going to give you some training information on how to work with him to use a potty pad. Choose Your Spot Pick a space in your house where you want your dog to go. Obviously, you’ll want this spot to be a low-traffic area. Make sure this spot is easily accessible to your dog, and make sure the floor surface is linoleum or tile, as opposed to carpet. If your dog “misses,” it will be easier to clean up. If the only spot you can put the pee pad is a carpet, you might consider getting a small tarp to put underneath the puppy pee pad to guard against spillage. Choose a spot that is outside of your “smell zone.” An important tip to remember is to make sure not to let your dog decide the spot he likes. Not only might he pick an area you won’t like, but he’ll learn that he is in charge – not you – which can cause a host of problems down the line. Monitor Your Dog When you are potty training your dog, full-time monitoring is an absolute necessity. It’s impossible to correct bad behaviors if you don’t see them happen. Dogs have very short memories. It is important to catch your dog in the act. If your dog goes on the floor, and you try to correct him hours after the fact, he will be confused and upset, not knowing what he did wrong. This can hinder training and your relationship with your dog. Puppies, in particular, must be watched constantly. They have less control over their bowels and will go when they have to go. If you miss these moments, you lose precious training opportunities. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to be with your dog 24 hours a day, but try to spend more time at home during the weeks you are potty training – it will pay off in the long run. Learn Your Dog’s Schedule Dogs, for the most part, are predictable. They will go to the bathroom at predictable times. You should be able to learn when your dog has to go based on timing as much as on his signals. Take some time to study your dog’s bathroom habits. You’ll learn the amount of time after he eats or drinks that he has to go, and you’ll get in rhythm with his daily bathroom schedule. This will help you reduce accidents and speed up the potty training process. Studying your dog’s habits can also help you identify his bathroom “triggers” – like having to go after a certain amount of playtime. Once you learn your dog’s schedule, use it to your advantage in potty training. Bring him to the pee pad a few minutes before he normally goes, and encourage him. This will help him get used to going in the right spot, and help you establish repetition in your training. Choose a Command Word Dogs have keen senses – they respond to sight, smell, and sound. When you begin pee pad training, choose a command word and use it every time you take your dog to the pad. Just about any word will work. The tone of your voice is more important than the actual word. Try phrases like “go on” or “go potty” in a slightly elevated, encouraging tone. Make sure to repeat this same command, in the same tone, every time you take your dog to the pee pad. Avoid Punishment When your dog has an accident, it’s just that – an accident. When you punish your dog during potty training, he will become confused and scared. He doesn’t know what he’s done wrong, and can’t understand why the person he loves most is mad at him. Most importantly, it will not help his potty training. Positive Reinforcement Both human and dog behavior is largely based on incentives. Dogs’ incentives are very simple – they want to eat when they are hungry, play when they are excited, and sleep when they are tired. But the most important thing your dog wants in life is to please you. Use this to your advantage. Whenever your dog goes on his potty training pad, shower him with lots of praise. If he sees that he gets praise for doing his business on the pad, he will be incentivized to keep going on the pad – and he’ll be excited to do it! Potty training – whether it’s a pee pad or going outside – will take time, but if you do it right, can take less time. Many dogs are potty trained in less than two weeks. Just remember that you and your dog are partners. Do everything you can to help him learn the proper etiquette, and you will enjoy a long, quality relationship together. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in.

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