How to Wean a Dog Off Training Pads and Get Them to Potty Outside

Updated on September 10, 2019
alexadry profile image

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, former veterinary assistant, and author of the online dog training course "Brain Training for Dogs."

How to Get a Dog to Potty Outside
How to Get a Dog to Potty Outside | Source

Why Is Weaning Important?

It is a good idea to wean dogs off training pads for a couple of reasons:

  • Training pads may be confusing to dogs as it teaches them to go potty in the house. Dogs do not generalize well, and therefore they may have a hard time understanding why they are allowed to go in one area of the house but not another.
  • Dogs may not do well when it comes to aiming. This means they may go potty on the edges of the training pad and leave messes nearby.
  • Your final goal is having your puppy or dog go potty outside.

Weaning a dog from training pads to the great outdoors is a gradual process that will take some time—but it can be done. The secret is doing it step by step with lots of praising for doing things right. What you would do is move the training pad gradually closer and closer to the door over the course of a week or two. Finally, you will take the pad outdoors and then remove it once she gets the idea.

Tips for Weaning a Dog Off Training Pads

A good way to prevent a dog from soiling in the indoor area he/she was used to is by:

  1. Taking her outdoors and making sure she has done everything. Some dogs like going on the pad when they come out from outside because they have been used to it for a long time and it has their scent. Some dogs may be saving some pee or poop to mark it. Many training pads contain products that encourage dogs to mark.
  2. Take her out, try to tell her ''go potty'' on command, basically, just seconds before she does number one (pee) or number two (poop) say "go potty" and after she goes potty, just within two seconds, praise her and give her a treat. She has to associate going potty outdoors with something good. The more she is praised and given a treat, the more she will feel motivated to do her business outdoors. Always keep treats with you handy when outdoors to emphasize this. I like to wear a treat bag.
  3. Clean up all indoor areas well. Invest in a good carpet cleaner. It needs to have enzymes in it. You want a product like ''Nature's Miracle''. If you do not use an enzyme cleaner the carpet will have traces of her smell and she will feel compelled to still go indoors.
  4. Make going potty indoors inconvenient. In other words, after cleaning the carpet with an enzyme cleaner put something in place of where she had her training pad. This is just temporarily. You can put a box or something she cannot go underneath or around it.
  5. When coming indoors keep her leashed so you can prevent her from going potty again inside. Watch her carefully. If she is giving signs she is about to go entice her to follow you immediately outside. When she goes outdoors, lots of praise and treats.
  6. Use an umbilical cord. If you cannot trust her going potty when you are not watching, attach her leash to a belt or around your waist so you can go about your business and keep an eye on her. This way she will not sneak away and try to go potty indoors and can give you warning signs she may need to go potty.
  7. If the dog is crate trained, use the crate for when she cannot be on an umbilical cord. Make sure it is the right size. If it is too big your dog will feel compelled to make it a bathroom. It should be snug enough that she would not feel comfortable doing her business there and sleeping in it. She still though be able to stand up and turn around comfortably.
  8. Should she ever go potty indoors when you are not watching, scoop up the poop and take it outdoors where you want your dog to potty. Clean up the area immediately with the enzyme cleaner.
  9. To help your puppy, move the training pads gradually closer and closer to the door. Then move them outside right by the door, then closer and closer to the potty area. Once in the potty area, make the training pads smaller and smaller until you can stop using it completely.
  10. When it's time to move to the yard or grass area, place dirt and grass on the pad so he can smell the grass and dirt and get accustomed to it.
  11. Last, but not least, keep her on a feeding schedule. Do not leave food out all day. When on a feeding schedule, a dog's potty time is more predictable. Set up a potty routine and stick to it if you can. Generally, dogs go potty first thing in the morning, in the afternoon, in the mid evening and then right before bedtime.

Adult dogs should have good control of their bowel and bladder. This means they should have no problems staying without going potty for extended periods of time (at least six hours) and should not have problems keeping it during the night. Do not confuse dog urine marking with urinating due to a physiological need to empty the bladder. A vet visit is always recommended if a dog starts to go potty more than usual. Urinary tract infections and disorders of the bowel may cause an increasing in potty frequency.

How to train your dog to go potty outside
How to train your dog to go potty outside | Source

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2011 Adrienne Farricelli


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    • profile image

      Shamika Southerland 

      13 months ago

      I just got a sog feom a friend and i an trying to house train her she use to going on a pad what do i do HELP

    • profile image

      LaDawn Lemerond 

      17 months ago

      if im going to try and pad train my new puppy when i get her in a couple weeks can i use two pads at diffrent areas of the hous

    • profile image


      20 months ago

      My puppy has acces to a dog flap he wil use it when we’re in but not when we’re out, he’ll pee on the puppy pads. Please help

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Funny, I have the same issue as Glenny as I also live on the 8th floor of a high-rise building. My Frenchie is now 16 weeks old (we got her at 13 weeks) and have successfully trained her to use the pads (for all business). But I've been trying to get her to take care of business outside but she doesn't seem to get it no matter how much time we spent or how often I take her to the same spot. (Granted, we don't have many patches of anything resembling grass.) But the season is changing and it's getting pretty cold. I'm trying not to give up hope, but could use some pointers if they exist!

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      We adopted a dog that was 3 years old and was trained to still use the pee pads. We've been so patient in trying to break this dog of this habit and it has been difficult. I did read some helpful tips in this article to try.

      I liked the idea of keeping the dog on the leash for a minute inside to see if she is sniffing around, etc. She likes to go on our living room rug or to another room when we are not looking. We do try to remember to keep all the doors closed, but every once in a while she will sneak off when a room is open. We walk her regularly and so it is frustrating to see her do this right after she was gone and did business several times outside.

      Thank you for the article.

      I hope, due to her age, becoming housebroken is still possible.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Farricelli 

      3 years ago

      Gleny, I feel for you, it is quite challenging potty training a puppy to potty outside when you live on the 8th floor. You will have to wait until your puppy has obtained better bladder control (and for the time being use pads) or you can try carry him/her downstairs (if small enough) and hopefully that will distract him to hold until you make it downstairs.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Thank you for your article! But how do you move them outside if you live in the 8th floor of a building? You can't not just move the pad outside of the apartment.


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