How To Teach Your Dog To Use Pee Pads

Published: August 16, 2021
Home / Training / How To Teach Your Dog To Use Pee Pads

There are a number of reasons you might train your dog to use pee pads instead of or in addition to learning to go outside. Perhaps you have a puppy who needs to go more often than you can make it outside. Perhaps you have an older dog or one who just had surgery and needs to stay inside for safety. Even bad weather can make it so that pee pads are a necessity. Proper training of your puppy or adult dog ensures that if he needs to go while he's inside, he'll go in the right place. These tips will help you both acclimate.

Gather the Right Supplies

Obviously, you'll need potty pads. Choose one that is thick enough to protect your floor (or put a flattened garbage bag under the pad for added protection). If you have a small dog, you can use a small one, but larger dogs will need more room, so be sure you purchase the right size. Consider how long you expect to be using them as well. If you're using them temporarily, then disposable ones are more convenient. However, if you expect to use potty pads on a consistent basis, consider purchasing washable pads. They're better for the environment and easier on your wallet.

In addition to the pads, purchase some nutritious treats or a few affordable new toys to reward your dog with after he uses the pad. If your dog is particularly young or old and dealing with incontinence, you might also consider purchasing diapers to wear as a backup plan throughout the day.

Introduce Your Dog to the Pads Properly

Before you can expect your dog to use potty pads, you need to allow him to get used to the new item in "his" house. Spread the pad out where you want him to use it and allow him to walk around on it and sniff it to get used to it. Once you see that he is used to it, you can begin to implement a command for him to use the pad.

Use a Phrase That Indicates It's Time To Go Potty

Dogs thrive on commands. If he associates a verbal command with using the pee pad you have set out, he's more likely to do it quickly and where he's supposed to. This is especially helpful if you're training a puppy, as he'll learn to associate the command with going when you need him to, whether it's on a pad or outside. Common phrases include "Go potty" and "hurry up," but you can use whatever you choose. Just ensure you stay consistent and use the same phrase every time you place your dog on the pad or take him outside.

Be Patient With Your Dog

No matter his age, every dog learns how to use potty pads at a different pace. Patience is important. If you become frustrated and yell or seem agitated, you may scare your dog and further delay his training. Remember, if you have a puppy, he cannot fully control his bladder until he is four months old. Even then, he'll usually only be able to hold his bladder for his age in months plus an hour. This means a six-month-old dog can typically hold it for about seven hours. Keep in mind, too, that smaller breeds have smaller bladders and faster metabolisms, so they may need to go more often. Finally, even within breeds, dogs are different. Some may learn how to use a potty pad in a matter of days while others could take months. Consistency is the key to successful training.

Praise Your Dog When They Use the Potty Pads

Dogs rely on positive reinforcement to learn. They like to know they did a good job and reinforcing this in them makes them want to repeat the same good actions. Every time your dog successfully uses a potty pad, give him one or two of his favorite treats, pet him, and use an excited, happy voice to praise his efforts. No matter how tired you are or how much of a hurry you are in, be sure to do this every time to keep the training consistent.

Learn Your Dog's Body Language

If you learn to look for the signs, you'll see when your dog has to go to the bathroom before he has an accident. Use a leash to tether your dog to you while you're training him, which makes it easier to watch for signs he has to go. Always take your dog to the potty pad after he's done sleeping or playing, as well as about 30 minutes after he's eaten or had water. If you notice your dog start to sniff around, he's probably looking for a place to go. Finally, even if you don't notice signs that he has to go, it's a good idea to put your dog on his potty pad every two or three hours.

Keep Up With the Training

It can be tempting to stop buying potty pads and stop training once your dog seems to have the hang of letting you know when he needs to go outside. However, if you're training a dog who has never gone outside regularly before, you'll need to stick with it for a few months. Even if your dog goes weeks without accidents, it can take a while for him to retain the idea, especially if something out of the ordinary is happening. If he doesn't feel well, is afraid of rain, or is excited because of new people or holiday chaos, he may have an accident if you don't have a potty pad ready for him to use.

Patience, diligence, and the right supplies will help to ensure your pet gets the hang of using potty pads and, eventually, doing his business outside. When you stick to a routine, your dog will be trained before you know it.

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