* All Sniffspot articles are reviewed by certified trainers for quality, please see bottom of article for details *
No one likes cleaning up accidents off their carpet every day. There are many times that having your dog trained to pee on a pad is beneficial. Of course, puppies come to mind, but that’s not the only instance. Dogs don’t always have access to the outdoors easily or at all times. Perhaps their person works long hours or they’re not physically able to get them outside as much as needed or as dogs age they may not be able to hold their bladder as long as they once could.
For those times that puppies or dogs just can’t wait, training to use a potty pad is extremely handy and can be used in conjunction with crate training and house training.
There are a plethora of reasons for using dog pee pads.
Unlike cats and a litter box, dogs using a potty pad isn’t an instinctual activity, so you’ll need to train them to use a pee pad. Whether you’ve just brought home a brand new puppy or your older dog needs some new accommodations, potty pad training can be a convenient solution.
Pee pad training isn’t difficult, but it does require patience and time from both the pet parents and the dog.
You’ll want to choose the ideal location for your dog to potty. Choose a space that is away from the heaviest foot traffic in your home but is easy for your dog to access. Privacy is nice, but not completely out of view. A corner of a room is usually a good choice.
Allow your dog to see, sniff, and check out the pads. Some dog pee pads have an attractant, but they still need to be introduced to it.
To introduce your dog, put them on a leash so they don’t wander, and then lead them to the pad.
You’ll also want to decide on your “potty phrase.” This can be helpful as dogs get older and they can actually go on cue. The next time you have to walk your dog in the pouring rain or the next time you’re traveling and you don’t have much time, this can come in handy.
Some common phrases include:
“Cue,” “phrase,” and “command” all work interchangeably in this context. Many dog trainers have tried to move away from the word “command” as it implies a negative connotation.
A puppy will usually go potty after napping, play time, and meals. After each of these things, carry your dog to their pad and say “Go potty” or whatever cue phrase you choose (be consistent!).
You’ll also need to observe and be aware of the signs that it's potty time. This may include them sniffing, walking around in circles, and so on. The more you get to know your puppy, the more you’ll recognize their pre-bathroom behaviors and get on an easy bathroom schedule.
Anticipating this and being proactive will help tremendously. When you recognize one of these behaviors, take them and place them on the pad and use your cue of choice.
It can even help to put into practice charting potty time occasions so it’s visible and easier to wrap your head around.
When your dog uses the potty pad, make sure you reward and praise them. Positive reinforcement is the key to any training process. Offering a treat or toy as a reward is definitely an option or even just high praise. As long as they make the connection between using the pad and something positive happening, then that’s a successful reward that leads to successful potty training.
If you’re eventually wanting to transition to your puppy using the potty outdoors, this step is for you.
Keep the puppy pad in the same spot until your puppy starts going to the pad itself. Once they do, you can slowly move the pad closer to the door leading outside.
Not making it to the pad on time? Try moving it closer to where they usually play or eat. If they know what it’s for but simply can’t get there in time, that’s setting them up for failure. Also knowing your dog’s key times to go potty is imperative as you can be more proactive in helping them make it to the pad in time.
Not going when placed in the potty area? If your puppy begins playing or doesn’t go potty within a few minutes of being placed in the potty area, remove them from the pad and place them back in their crate or pen. Try again in 10-15 minutes.
Not going in the potty area? If your dog has an accident, blot the pee on a paper towel and place it on the pee pad to attract your dog’s sense of smell to the pad.
Are they supervised? When your puppy isn’t able to be supervised completely, it’s important to not give them run of the house. You can use a crate, a small bathroom with pads covering the entire floor, an exercise pen, and so on. It’s important that the size of the space be appropriate.
There is so much misinformation out there, we want to make sure we only provide the highest quality information to our community. We have all of our articles reviewed by qualified, positive-only trainers. The trainers that review our content are reviewed by other trainers to ensure that we have the best quality filters on our content.
This is the trainer that reviewed this article:
Dog Trainer - PAWSitively Obedient, LLC
Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed, CPDT-KA # 1185279.
Canine Good Citizen Evaluator - #94102.
Sniffspot is a community marketplace that enables anyone to rent land by-the-hour as a safe and private dog park.
Find Sniffspot on your favorite social media