Teaching Your Dog to Go Potty on Puppy Pads? Maybe Not


I often get asked the question how do you train a puppy to use pee pads. The question makes me cringe because honestly your dog cannot tell the difference between pee pads and the morning newspaper and if pee pads are absorbent your carpet or rugs are even more so. First you really need to ask yourself why you want your puppy trained to go on pee pads. Is it because you are at work during the day and your puppy can’t hold it that many hours or is it because you live in a big city and your vet has told you not to take your puppy out on the street until it has had its last vaccinations. If the reason is to keep your puppy healthy that is one thing but if it is because you cannot be at home you will have a much happier lifetime with your dog if you have someone visit during the day. Maybe a college student willing to stop by for a bit before or after classes or a neighbor come and check in on your puppy. Maybe even ask a neighbor that is home during the day with dogs that are fully up to date with their vaccinations if your puppy can stay with them until the kids come home from school. Not only will your puppy have company while you are gone the older dogs will be able to help socialize the puppy and teach it manners.
Why do I cringe when someone asks?

When Indiana came to live me with me she was 9 weeks old and I was living in Queens, NY I didn’t have a yard of my own and did not have access to a yard with grass that had only been used by fully vaccinated dogs and dogs whose health I could be assured of. Yes I had friends whose parent’s had yards but it was neither practical or fair to call them and ask if I could bring my puppy to potty in their yard several times a day everyday until she had received all of her vaccinations. So Indiana went from being able to use the garden to play in and go potty at her breeders to my apartment where she had a potty area on pee pads. In the begining it was fine she was little under 6 lbs and figured out what to do all on her own. But as she got a bit older and even more playful she would drag the pad all over her enclosed area and sometimes shred it or decide not to go on the pads at all. It wasn’t a huge deal there was a big sheet of plastic under the old bed sheets and pee pad but it was still gross. I was so happy the first time I was able to take her outside to go potty and I put her on the grass and she peed right away I thought things would be fine. Nope not even close. She is perfectly fine on tile and wood floors but give her access to carpet and she will pee on it if that is what she decides she wants to.  You would have thought having lived in an apartment with no carpet where she didn’t pee on the floor would have broken her of the habit and shown her she can and does know how to hold it but she gets on nice plush carpet and forget it.

I know I am not the only one with that experience. I hear i all the time from people who trained their puppy to use a pee pad when they were little and then took them away when they started playing with it or were old enough to be able to hold it for more then a few hours during the day. They can’t quite fully house train the dog. Which means for bigger breeds that they get sent out to live in the yard or taken to a shelter because people can’t deal with the dog not being fully housebroken. Small breed dogs are often allowed to just get away with their behavior. Like Indiana they know exactly where they are supposed to potty they get praised for doing so they can go months without going potty on the carpet and then one day out of the clear blue sky they do and the cycle starts all over again. By the way Indiana has refused to go potty on a pee pad for years already so its not like I have any out around the house which could confuse her.

If there is any way you can avoid using potty pads with your puppy it should really be explored especially if you have a yard but can’t be home during the day to take the puppy out. The biggest piece of advice I can give any new puppy owner is to figure something out. A high school student might accept $5 to go to your house after school everyday and spend a half hour to an hour with your puppy playing with it and taking it in the yard to potty.

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  1. MilShelb Mom says:

    I found this to be very interesting. I agree! Milly and Shelby learned to go potty on pee pads… and we still have them in our house. They stopped playing with them when we bought pee pad holders to keep them in place. Milly goes on them pretty much any time she needs to potty. Shelby, on the other hand, prefers to go outside or (unfortunately) on the floor. Carpet is a nightmare and we have replaced nearly all the carpet in our house with laminate because ANY time there is carpet around they will potty on it- especially if another animal has gone there in the past. Overall, I understand why people use them with small dogs and I also understand why it’s not really the best idea. I’d love to not use them if we get puppies in the future.

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