As a dog trainer for a pet supply chain, I see a lot of people come in for puppy pads. Here's why I tell them to ditch the pee pads.
I am a dog trainer for a pet supplies chain, and I wish I could "Caution Tape" off the aisle with the pee pads in it, stick a wet-floor sign in front of it, throw up a ladder with some dangling electrical equipment, and then maybe place a guy in a biohazard suit with a sign that read "Ebola!" in front of it just to keep people away.
When I'm steering people away from products that I think are crappy (prong collars, rawhides, Science Diet) I have to be really subtle about it. But I wish I could launch a missile attack on the wee-wee pad aisle, I really do.
So why do I hate pee pads so much? Let me count the ways . . .
Are Puppy Pads a Good Potty-Training Aid?
No. Here's a quick rundown of why wee wee pads are a bad idea. While they might seem like a convenient solution, they'll only end up sabotaging your potty-training efforts.
- They teach your dog to pee in your house.
- They don't work for long-term use.
- They're not sanitary.
- Most dogs never get used to them and like to shred them rather than pee on them.
- They're expensive.
Pee Pads Teach Your Dog to Pee in Your House (Yikes!)
Essentially, if you buy pee pads and put them down on your floor, you are saying to your dog that you want them to pee in your house. No matter how well-intentioned you are in your approach to potty training, if you bring pee pads in your house, you are doing the wrong thing.
The one and only exception is for sick and elderly dogs that literally can't get up to go out. They probably won't use them anyway, but I'm mostly talking about puppies.
Commit to Potty-Training Your Puppy the Right Way
Puppies are the cutest little poop machines! For the first weeks of their lives, their mamas clean up after them, just like how your mama cleaned you up. But there comes a time for you to learn to take care of yourself. Potty training humans is difficult, but at least we speak the same language. Potty training a different species is even more difficult, but just as necessary, so think about that before you buy a puppy.
You're going to need to commit serious hours to potty train your puppy, and it is so tempting to buy those pee pads because they seem great. You think, "Aw, it's getting cold out, I don't want to make my puppy walk in the cold; we'll just use these for the winter." Or, "My poor puppy is all alone while I'm at work for 6 hours, I'll just put down these pee pads until I get home." Don't! Springtime will come and your dog will still be sh*tting on your floor. If you work five days a week, and that's not going to change, you won't be able to potty train on your next week-long vacation in six months; that's not how it works.
I want to give you the steps to successfully potty train, because I think it's that important. So many dogs are turned into shelters because they couldn't learn not to poop where they weren't supposed to. Lord knows, my Ollie tried my patience! (Read more about Ollie's story below.)
We were really patient with him, and I'm glad we were, because he's a great dog. I want to help other people realize that they have great dogs and that although potty training is frustrating it is essential. This is how to do it!
How to Potty Train Your Puppy the Right Way
I believe in crate training, although I come from a family who thinks it's heartless. I can't even talk training with my mom or my nana without them thinking I'm evil. But, it's necessary, and not cruel, and it is so, so much better than trying to potty train with puppy pads.
The only extra equipment you need (if you don't already have it) is a crate, enzymatic cleaner, a timer, gates, cardboard boxes in a variety of sizes, and a carabiner.
1. Introduce the Crate
The crate should be comfortable and cozy, because it is her den. I bet you like the comfy, cozy sanctuary that is your bedroom—that's what her crate should be. To achieve this, place a soft crate pad (not a wee wee pad!) on the bottom, and if you have a wire crate, put a blanket over the top to create a "cave."
Note: Remove these items if you've got a dog that is eating the mattress pad and blanket.
How to Size a Crate for Potty Training
At first, your dog should only have enough room to stand and turn around while inside the crate. If your crate doesn't have a partitioner to make it smaller, you can size up a cardboard box to place inside in order to limit movement. The idea is for her to not have enough room to pee in the corner, and then move to escape her own pee.
Most dogs will not eliminate where they sleep, but some might mark a little bit to get their smell inside. But you shouldn't see a full-out bladder spill from them while in their crates if the sizing is just right.
Never Use the Crate for Punishment
Introduce the crate as a happy place, and never use it for punishment. A crate is not a doggy jail. But whenever your eyes are not on her, she should be in the crate. If you take her outside and she doesn't produce, she should go right back into the crate. Again, not as punishment, but you need to make sure she has no choice but to pee outside so you can reward her as soon as she does.
Each time you put her in her crate, use your "Happy Puppy" voice and use a command word in a sentence such as, "Go in your house." Use treats to get her to go inside. Don't ever let her out while she is barking or crying; that will start bad habits.
2. Set a Feeding Schedule
That is the simplest thing you can do. While humans process food in 24–48 hours, dogs do so under 24 hours. Food goes in, and right away, some thing's got to come out. Once your puppy is on a twice-a-day eating schedule, place his food down on the floor, set your timer, and give him 20 minutes to eat. Whatever is not eaten can be saved for the next meal.
Stick to 20-Minute Mealtimes
If you have a dog that likes to graze, be firm about the 20-minute mealtime. Whatever he doesn't eat in that time frame, he will be hungry for at the next mealtime. There are no anorexic dogs—when he is hungry, he will eat. Eventually, your grazing dog will get accustomed to a schedule. So, between 15 and 20 minutes after you've taken up the food, take your dog outside.
3. Designate an Outdoor Pee Place
Take your puppy, on leash, to the same place to pee. Business time first, then play. If you go out and take her to the pee place and she doesn't pee after 5 minutes or so, bring her back inside and try again a little later.
Reward With Gentle Praise and Treats
It's important to bring treats with you so you can treat her immediately after she's done peeing. Timing is everything. It's too late to praise and treat once you've brought her back into the house after she's peed outside. So when you treat, use your "Happy Puppy" tone of voice and smile.
Don't be too loud with the praise; you don't want to frighten her. Use gentle happy noises and smiles. Say, "good pee, good poop" or whatever, but give her a word to associate with eliminating so she can learn it (for the purpose of time management in the future).
4. Go Outside Frequently During the Day
When you start potty training, take your puppy outside as often as your schedule allows; every hour on the hour if you can. Let her see how happy it makes you that she's being a good girl. And always let her play a little bit after she goes.
When she gets the hang of it, add time in between going outside to pee so she can learn how to hold her bladder. Eventually, dogs can hold their bladders for 5 hours or longer.
5. Use Accidents in the House as Learning Opportunities
Keep your head about you. I know you just want to crumble into pieces because your puppy has just relieved himself on your oriental rug, but you have to remember he's not doing it on purpose, even if you think he's a vindictive little b*stard. If you don't catch him in the act, there's nothing you can do but take a deep breath and spray on some enzymatic cleaner.
What to Do If You Catch Your Puppy Peeing in the House
However, if you walk in on him popping a squat, that's actually great.
First, Don't Scream! But do make a loud noise to startle him to stop the flow of urine. Don't use his name and don't say "bad." If you frighten or embarrass him when he has an accident in the house, he'll still pee in the house, but he'll hide when he does it. You need to act as if it's all part of the day as normal.
Don't Dwell on the Accident. Pick him up or leash him and get him outside immediately. If he even puts a drop outside, treat and praise him as if the accident in the house never happened. Puppies only live in the moment, so try not to dwell on the things they did in the past.
Clean Up the Mess Right Away. Go in and clean up the mess right away with an enzymatic cleaner, but don't point at it or do anything else to make him feel guilty. He should always feel confident when eliminating so the act itself doesn't cause him stress.
Block Off the Room or Place. Once the area is clean, you need to block his access to this place in your house. If it's in a room that has a door, shut it or gate it off, and don't allow him back into this room until he is fully potty trained.
When that's not possible, cover the spot with a heavy piece of furniture or a weighted box. Tell your friends you're just doing some quirky redecorating. Puppies will always go back to the place where they were able to pee without interruptions. They are drawn back by not only the smell but by their visual surroundings as well. And they are more likely to pee on rugs and couches than hard surfaces, because the fabric will hide their accidents.
6. Use a Tinkle Bell (Advanced Technique)
If you have a fairly smart and observant puppy and you are particularly ambitious, you can use a Tinkle Bell. To use this, go to a hardware store and get a little bell and a hook to hang it on. Install the bell on the hook onto the wall next to the door you use to take your puppy outside from. Place it low to the ground so she'll have good access to it.
Note: Avoid hanging bells on doorknobs because if you use this door for regular comings and goings, the bell will ring and your puppy might be confused by it, and its purpose might be lost.
To make the best use of the bell, give the bell a gentle kick or tap every single time you take her out to eliminate. Don't ring the bell for playtime. Don't let your children (or childlike adult friends) ring it for fun. With precise consistency, your dog will catch on that the bell chiming means going out to pee, and she'll be able to ring it to tell you when she needs to go.
Make sure the first time she rings it on her own to praise her and take her out immediately. When she goes out and produces, give her even more praise and treats. If she starts ringing the bell just to go out and play, remind her that ringing the bell means business time. Leash her and bring her to the pee place; when she's done she can have some playtime.
Keep a Potty Journal. Usually, accidents occur when the puppy simply couldn't hold it any longer. Keep a potty journal if you need to in order to keep track of how long your dog can go before an accident. If you are leaving your puppy at home while you go to work, make sure that he goes out right before you leave and first thing when you get home.
Try the Umbilical Cord Approach. Make sure comings and goings are as calm as can be or you might get some excitement squirts. If he's running away from you and you find him pooping in the closet, keep him on leash and clipped to you with a carabiner. This is called the Umbilical Cord Approach. He won't have the chance to give you the slip, because he's attached to you. You'll be better able to predict when he's about to go, and it's a great bonding technique.
Assess the Situation. If you are still having trouble after 3 weeks of this strict routine, take a better look at the situation. When are the accidents happening, what proceeds them, what happens after? Answering these questions will greatly increase your chances of success.
Boost Your Dog's Potty Confidence. If you have a submissive pee-er, don't make direct eye contact with her while she's peeing; just bring her outside without adding to her stress, and concentrate instead on boosting her self esteem.
Try to Ease Separation Anxiety. If you have a dog that has an accident the second you leave her, this is probably from separation anxiety. Work with her on her being ok when you leave. Try some calming techniques, always use the crate, and give her some toys to play with to occupy her time. Kongs are great for this purpose. Think mental diversions.
Consider Neutering Your Dog (If You Haven't Already). If you have a dominant dog who's peeing to test limits, use the Umbilical Chord Approach to re-establish yourself as the alpha. Also, an intact male might be having accidents that aren't accidents at all to him. He might be marking his territory. Catch him in the act and redirect him outside. Also, neutering can cut down or completely wipe out this behavior altogether.
Our Story: Potty Training Ollie
We got Ollie, our little Rat Terrier while I was pregnant with Delaney. When we got him, he was extremely nervous and submissive. He was afraid of us, afraid of the car, and afraid of outside. It was like he wasn't a dog at all. He did lots of submissive peeing, and I was constantly running up and down two flights of stairs to launder peed-on couch cushions and throw rugs.
This went on for months. I would go to take him out, and he'd empty his bladder before I could get his leash on him. If I called his name, he'd pee. If I made eye contact, he'd pee. The good news is, he's mostly overcome this hurdle.
There's no leash anxiety because he wears a light leash around the house all day long now. I pick the end of leash up and say, "Let's go!" and he follows me right outside, no qualms, no accidents. We broke through his submissiveness through potty training, by positive reinforcement and building his self-esteem. We can look at him and touch him without major accidents, he's friendly with people now, and responds to commands.
Avoid Turning Your House Into a Potty
As you can see, in order to succeed at potty training a puppy, you have to put the work in. Writing about our success story with Ollie makes me think of the less-than-successful "attempts" made by some of the people who have attended my class.
Once, a lady with a small-breed puppy signed up for my 6-week class, showed up the first day and never came back. Why, you ask? I started off the class by asking about how potty training is going, because that's usually what people ask about first. The class spoke about their successes and this lady just laughed.
I asked her about her puppy's progress. "I'm not here for potty training, I'm fine with our arrangement," she replied. I asked her what the arrangement was, and she said, "Wee wee pads." I said, "Ok. How is that working out? Does he always pee on the pee pads 100% of the time?"
The answer was no. In fact, this dog had peed or pooped in every room in her house. She said he favored going under the dining room table, so she was looking for a domed-shaped crate to put pee pads in so that he could do his thing in private. When asked what happens when he goes outside, and if he produces anything on walks, she said that she hadn't taken him on walks yet. I'm pretty sure this lady didn't really want a dog, she wanted a cat. Small dogs are still dogs. They have all of the same instincts and drives of larger dogs.
Dogs only need a few things to survive in our world: shelter and sustenance, exercise, affection, and structure. She only wanted to give this guy two of those. The lady was only in my class to get her puppy to stop biting her; but if I was him, I'd bite her too. Not everyone who chooses the pads are like her. Most people are well intentioned, but the use of pee pads for puppy training is a bad idea no matter how you slice it.
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.
© 2010 tallglassofsass
Ms Elizabeth A Percy on September 04, 2020:
Do you actually crate a puppy all day while you work. I personally think that is abuse
Lucy Mitchell on July 04, 2020:
This was really useful, thank you. Much more detailed than other articles.
Our 13 week old border terrier is definitely learning, but sometimes we're unable to see the warning signs - it's like she forgets herself!
She is sometimes a bit anxious about the crate so when we're around we've been keeping her out of it, but that's leading to accidents so I'm going to try a lot harder to keep her in the crate and have specific post-wee play sessions rather than letting her loose.
MT on June 25, 2020:
I owned a small male chihuahua who was reliably indoor litter trained for 12 years. Not only was my dog immaculate, so was my home. Never did I have to rush home to take him out, never did he have destructive behavior resulting from anxiety created by "holding it" all day, never did he once have an accident after he was indoor trained.
I don't understand why so many individual feel the need to trash talk or look down on indoor trained dogs. Those owners spent a lot of time and attention to detail to make this happen and reap tons of rewards from it...so go ahead and hate if you want to!
People work for a living, some of us have large commutes and are not home for 10+ hours a day. You would have to have the added expense of hiring a stranger to come into your home, walk your dog, hopefully not rob you blind or mistreat your animal. Not to mention the added risk of COVID exposure.
Do you have to use pads? No. There are highly sanitary and biodegradable alternatives on today's market.
So do us all a favor...when people ask for advice, try to stop selling them your personal philosophy and just answer the dang question...don't pretend to know their situation, work-life balance or judge their personal preference.
Robert on May 08, 2020:
You say puppy pads are not long term. My puppy only uses puppy pads and she has been using them for 6 years. So i disagree with that.
Laurie O Stoeckert on February 22, 2020:
Great advice! Would you suggest using a crate for an untrained 2 year old German Shepard as well? We have adopted a precious girl who needs to be potty trained. I just bought Peepee pads tonight because she has gone on every rug we own. I thought perhaps she was paper trained because of this. We used the crate of all of our other dogs but she is by far the oldest adopted dog and I wasn't sure if it's too late to use the crate? Thank you, Laurie@Stoeckert.us
KS - Tampa on January 29, 2020:
I think this is TERRIBLE advice, especially coming from someone who works with dogs for a living! What about people who do not have back yards and have to work the traditional EIGHT hour per day shift (add an extra two hours to that for travel time)? Not everyone has close friends or family who are at home during the day to walk their dog. Not everyone can afford to pay a dog walker 5 days a week (nor would I trust one to enter my home while I'm not there). Do you seriously expect the dog to hold his urine for TEN hours? That's not only asinine, but downright CRUEL and HEARTLESS! A dog's bladder will become distended over time from holding urine for that long and it can cause RENAL FAILURE over time.
Unless you work from home, work part time, or have someone around to walk your dog while you're gone, your dog NEEDS to be able to relieve himself when you're not around! Wee wee pads are are totally fine to use as long as your dog doesn't like to eat them. I was using wee wee pads until I discovered the Potty Park, which is made with plush artificial grass and has a neat draining system that makes disposal very easy and convenient. Another GREAT benefit is that you don't have to keep spending money on packs of wee wee pads. My dog is trained to potty outside during our walks in the morning before I leave for work and in the evening when I come home and INSIDE on the Potty Park when I'm away from home. I would NEVER let my dog suffer in silence while his bladder is bursting!
JGP on June 28, 2019:
This is one of the best articles I have read regarding potty training a dog.
DIANE on January 10, 2019:
When you have a small dog and you only have yourself to take her out and it is 10 below zero and windy with a good 6 inches of snow and your 84 and have to go down hall steps to do it would you want your Mom to do that 6-8 times a day?????
Leah on November 19, 2018:
I agree that pee pads are horrible. My 77 year old Grandmother got a chihuahua and pomeranian mix and has never trained it. Basically the dog has always used pee pads. I know this is easier for my Grandmother, but it has made the rest of the immediate family pretty much hate the dog. Because, as you said it goes on the floor wherever when visiting our house. It’s simply gross and lazy NOT to train your dog! She shouldn’t have one.
John decola on November 07, 2018:
You got to be kidding me, pls my dogs use the pee pad well in the case of bad weather or busy schedule. We do bring our dogs out as well and provide him well balance exercise. He's able to do both as well with ease, thank goodness for Pee pad, making life easy for him and me.
I think you should be open minded to other opinion as well not just asumme it's not a good decision. My word to you as a writer, be open to other options and learn what is suitable for different people their needs.
Also a dog trainer with one sided view is a poor dog trainer, you suppose to explore all different method not just one.
Hope u can get your facts right, no hate but just sharing.
Elizabeth on November 04, 2018:
This is my problem with ur article. Now this is ur own words. Making that assumption that people who use P pads there dogs are up for some reason not played with or not bright outside? Is that the assumption you were making? It’s a very arrogant comment that I would think most dog trainers wouldn’t have such a one viewed approach. You made a lot of assumptions and different comments you have made it. What about for the people who live in the cold weather? And a 5 pound dogs live in this cold weather. Here are your word in this article not mine. I would think that many people looking for a dog trainer would gear away from your technique. What’s right for one dog might not be right for the other. And I would think most pet owner what’s rate for one dog it might not be right for the other. And I would think most pet owner wants they’re trainer to be open and have theres personal views more quiet. And trying to figure out what works for that Family .
“I didn't mean for this article to attack your personal choices, I was merely stating that the pads are a product you don't need. I meant for my comment to attack your personal choices because if you don't plan on actually spending time with your pet, you should have gotten a Plant” these are your words you sure you want to claim it
Heidi on November 04, 2018:
By dog pees on pads and never has accidents. Those of us who do have P pads it does not mean they don’t get to go outside . My dog does not like being out when it is 0°. Secondly the snow usually is deeper than her head . For some people it works out very well. And for others it may not
Nonni on October 27, 2018:
My Mom and I each got a puppy within 3 wks of each other; 2 pee pods per floor of house. In 9 months each pup was potty trained within 2 wks and have never had an accident. Please that is only your opinion but also, our pups are only 5 lbs. Our pups get walks exercise and whatever else they need for good health.
Trish on September 04, 2018:
Wrong,. My dog uses wee wee pads in my basement at night and in bad weather. He does not crap or pee anywhere else. He occasionally overshoots the tray the pads are in but he does not use my house for a toilet.
Rottie Pup on November 15, 2017:
I am so thankful to come across this article. I got my Rottie at 3 months of age. In the beginning I was all for the wee wee pads because of previous family pet history and puppy training. Within 2 months she hasn't peed on the wee pad at all and if she has had an accident it was either near the wee pad or no where near it but rarely directly on it. She is more accustomed to shredding it. She is now 6 months old and goes outside for her walks once in the morning and in the evening. If someone is home early, she goes out for a midday walk too just to prevent any accidents. My motto is "Don't set her up to fail." This is the schedule during the school/work week. On the weekends she goes out 3 times a day. On the weekends sometimes she won't wake up until 9-10am in the morning to go to the bathroom. So, I know she can hold her urine for long periods. With all that being said, recently I feel that she is regressing in her training. She's beginning to pee just about anywhere she pleases and even on her sleeping mats. Not good! I start to research and I come across this article along with another. Thank goodness!! I am in total agreement. I think the wee pad is sending a negative message and opposed to helping with training. Do I want her to go outside or inside? So, this am I picked up the wee pad, left her with a stick to play with and her kong. I called my son, since he would be home midday, and asked how did she do? He said "she did great. No accidents but you forgot to put a wee pad down." Ah ha, "no I didn't. It was done purposely." I am ready for any little accidents she may have because she IS still a puppy. But absolutely no more wee pads!. Thank you for this assurance.
Sick puppy on September 05, 2017:
Our 8 week old puppy was doing so great. Sleeping in crate alerting me wirh his little whimper to go out. 4 days in and off to a great start. He got a stomach thing that had my husband and I running outside every 30 minutes on the hour so he could squirt. I could not work the next day on that schedule so i put out the pen with the crate and per pads. All my hard work!!!
Can I get back to where I was?
Rose on June 16, 2017:
I have a "friend" who allows her (5) little dogs to relief themselves on puppy pee pads. They aren't puppies and are capable of using the outdoors. Im wondering about the health risks, because, I believe that she allows this due to laziness, and also neglects to change the pads daily. So, do you have any knowledge on the long term affects, and how should I approach her?
tallglassofsass (author) from Salem, MA on March 17, 2015:
It's too expensive to be putting so much corn and by-product into the mix. First ingredient should be meat, followed by a meat meal then either highly digestible grains or non-grain carbs such as sweet potato. Some Science Diet bags resemble that but more do not. Science Diet has very effective prescription foods that are necessary for some dogs, but chances are, if they are getting a high quality diet, they may never need a prescription food.
Jennifer on March 17, 2015:
Just wondering ... what are your issues with Science Diet? You mentioned you try to steer people away from it in your post.
Shannon on August 13, 2014:
My husband and I feel like we are in a unique and albeit awkward situation. We just adopted a 10 week old rescue puppy and because we live in an apartment complex with no backyard or outside patio and she hasn't had her third round of vaccine shots yet, the rescue group said we couldn't take her outside AT ALL for the next two weeks.
She's been "trained" on the pee pads at her foster home and since we've had her (5 days), she goes on the pad most of the time (all but twice). We're frustrated we can't take her outside to pee as that is what we'd prefer. Do you have any advice on how to transition her from pee pads to outside when we can finally take her out? Thanks so much :)
Wayne on January 02, 2014:
I have been using the Pee Wee pads for my two minature dachsunds and find them to work very well. As well as my family and friends.We will go wherever they are.We are very disappointed with retailers who no longer carry them.I sm upset to find people disatisfiied with them.People just want to cause contrversy I guess, but I am a happy customer.
tallglassofsass (author) from Salem, MA on December 09, 2013:
Well... You certainly have some strong personal opinions of me. No worries, I'm going to explain why I stand behind what I wrote this 2 years ago. I agree that you might need the pads for older or injured dogs. What I was trying to get across with this article is that you don't need to buy these for puppies. 1. They are not guaranteed to work. Puppies are not usually drawn to pee on them, you have to train them to pee on them. So if you are training them to pee somewhere, why not train them to pee outside? 2. They are expensive/ potentially dangerous when your puppy shreds them. It's sending puppies the wrong message if your intention is to get them to go out eventually.
As a professional dog trainer, I work a lot with shelter dogs. The second biggest reason an unwanted dog gets turned over to a shelter from a forever home is lack of potty training skills. It's very sad, because it's preventable. Because dogs can learn when they are properly trained. Some very well intentioned pet parents get trapped by the pee pad mistake and then it's hard to shake off. So the point I was making was that if you are making a concerted effort in potty training your brand new puppy, pee pads are not only unnecessary, but can even be detrimental to your efforts.
Also, if you WORK ALL DAY, perhaps now isn't the time to get a new puppy. Puppies require meals, water, exercise, affection, and structure all day. Having a puppy all alone ALL DAY is not ideal for the puppy. However, people do need to work. That is why crate training is important also. When your eyes are not on your puppy who is under 6 months, they should be in the crate. That means when you are working, cooking, showering. Your puppy should be secured in the crate for their own safety. When you are at work, your puppy should be sleeping because they need 16 hours of sleep a day. They don't really pee while they are sleeping, and they don't usually pee in their crate, so again, the need for the pads is eliminated.
I didn't mean for this article to attack your personal choices, I was merely stating that the pads are a product you don't need. I meant for my comment to attack your personal choices because if you don't plan on actually spending time with your pet, you should have gotten a plant.
MJP on December 09, 2013:
Wow, how arrogant. Some people have to WORK ALL DAY and might need the wee wee pads to prevent their puppy or older dog from eliminating in inappropriate places. What an ignorant article.
tallglassofsass (author) from Salem, MA on October 07, 2013:
I've recently heard another client of mine express concern about not taking their puppy out before the last round of shots, but from what I've heard, and I'm not a vet, but the first round is good enough for being outside of the litter. Which means ok for outside so long as your puppy is in a clean place and doesn't try licking or eating anything out there. I'd caution taking your new puppy around other dogs until the second round of shots, but out side in a controlled environment should be ok, but double check with the vet with a phone call. Next make the crate as small as possible, use the partitioner if you have one. Your puppy should only have enough room to walk in, turn around, and lay down. Not enough room to eliminate and escape it. They might do that one or two times before they realize they don't like it and try to hold their bladder for outside the crate. If you MUST use a pee pad, get some of his urine on it so he is attracted to his own scent, thus making it more likely for him to pee there. When you want to move potty training completely outside you can repeat that step of collect some of his urine and placing it outside where you want him to go.
Will on October 07, 2013:
I've got a 10 week-old puppy that I can't get to eliminate on the pads. I'm now thinking of scratching them all together after reading your article and switching to housebreaking outside. However, he still needs his last round of shots and can't go outside yet. It will be another week until we get the shots. Any thoughts on what to do in the meantime? He doesn't understand the concept of the pad and has eliminated a few times in his crate already as well as around the house. Thanks!!
tallglassofsass (author) from Salem, MA on September 06, 2013:
I tell my dog training clients that I don't want to change what works for them. If your dog hits her target, doesn't shred her pads, and pees outside when it is appropriate, then congratulations, you did it! It's very hard to do correctly. Many dogs get confused and will not pee outside when allowed to pee inside. Other dogs will just pee near the pad or chew the pads with or without pee on it. But I will agree that there are some households that use this arrangement without a hitch because it is the only option, such as city living. The only downside is that it is unsanitary, unsightly, and costly. You can offset all of those things with a potty patch, which is like a little astroturf tray. The reason why I wrote this blog is that I was seeing clients who were at their wits end and ready to turn their dogs over to a shelter because the dogs were older and not potty trained. Their mistakes, mainly, was the use of potty pads which became a crutch. I wanted to let families know that pee pads aren't on the list required puppy gear, contrary to marketing.
Zoé on August 30, 2013:
Thank god for pee pads!!! I own a 3 year old Yorkie and I trained her to pee and poo outside. I also trained her to use pee pads for the following reasons:
1- once or twice a week, I work long hours outside my home
2- it is cruel to ask a small dog to go poo outside when it is minus 20 Celsius in 1 or 2 feet of snow!!! my winters are 4 months long ...with appriximately 2 to 3 weeks of extreme cold weather. So, consider the geographic location for small dogs. Bigger dog do tolerate the extreme cold.
3- older dogs pee more frequently ...especially at night. Big or small, right?!
Over the years, I owned three small dogs, so I learned from experience. Though this is my first yorkie and I had to work harder to train her. They say Yorkies are a difficult bread to potty train, but I was persistent. She has not had an accident in 2 years! The downfall with pee pads is that they are an eye sore. Luckily I can hide the pee pad in the laundry room where it is out of sight. One pee pad a day for my dog works for me!
tallglassofsass (author) from Salem, MA on April 06, 2013:
I'll acknowledge that they are sometimes appropriate. You have a situation that isn't typical, though. You had an older dog who was never housebroken, therefore never really learning how to control their bladder. The fact that you worked with a behaviorist and are mostly successful is a great attribute to yourself. Well done! My article was mostly targeting families with brand new puppies or older dogs that they've had but never really trained. Introducing pee pads is sending a confusing message to dogs where to potty. I bet your use of the pads aren't confusing, but necessary because of a combination of a dog with weaker bladder control muscles due to lack of use and perhaps a bit of separation anxiety. Keep up with what you are doing, and here are a couple more tips: if he's peeing in the house after coming back in from outside, try to keep him outside a little longer, he probably wasn't completely empty. He'll be completely empty when he attempts to pee on something and nothing comes out. Take his to things he would normally like to leave his scent on and keep him there until there's nothing left. Before leaving on short trips, take him out and tire him out. Work on commands and give rewards. Tax him both physically and mentally. When you take him in, don't give him full access to the house. Being alone in a large space is scary. Try gating him in the kitchen. He should be sleeping when you are not there. Dogs need an incredible amount of sleep. If he is alone and not tired, that's when he can grow anxious and that's when he feels panicked about peeing. So he'll pee on your rug to get it out of the way. You can still offer the pads as you try out the new techniques. But see if you can decrease dependence in them.
Malteselover on April 06, 2013:
Your article is not exactly fair. I adopted an 8lb maltese who was a rescue, never housebroken and was aleady 5 yrs old. I had a lot of trouble housebreaking him so I hired a dog behaviorist and finally the dog is going outside to potty. I am feeding him on schedule, taking him out regularly, everything you mentioned in the article. He does great on schedule, but every once in a while he still has an accident. Usually when I go out for a few short hours after letting him out, or it could be only an hour after having eliminated outside. The pee pads are a godsend, he will use them when I'm not home and goes outside when I am home. Believe me I would prefer not to use them, but it's better than scrubbing the rug every time!!
tallglassofsass (author) from Salem, MA on August 28, 2012:
Roamer, new dogs, or new work hours? 10-12 hours is too long to go without a trip outside both for potty reasons and exercise/stimulation reasons. I suggest finding a dog walker in your location. You could put down pee pads, but you're opening up your house to be peed in. You would have to train them to go on the pads the way you trained them to go outside. So that's a process you may or may not want to go through. Plus, one dog is a foster. It's so hard for rescues to find forever homes because they are not used to established routines especially when it comes to pottying, so if you pad train (which isn't the typical approach) you are decreasing the chances this dog has at finding an accepting forever home. As evidenced by the next comment.
Lorentz, just consistency on your part will help her. It takes time to unlearn things. If she is producing outside at all, that's a good sign that you don't need to use pee pads indoors. If it didn't occur to her to potty outside then I would have suggested inching the pee pads closer and closer to the door until they were eventually outside the door and then gone forever. But... keep up with the praise. Are you giving her treats as well for potty outside? If you are, be sure to treat her the moment she is finished. Waiting until you're back in the house is too long of a span of time for her to remember why you are treating her. Also, think about the treats you are giving her. Are they high value treats (as opposed to low value, "hey friend, I like you" milk bones), and if so, you might want to up the ante on those and use something she absolutely adores, like cheese, hot dogs, or bacon. That way, if she only gets those treats from pottying outside, over time, she will learn that peeing outside yields her much better rewards than peeing inside.
Lorentz219 on August 25, 2012:
I need a little help as well. My new puppy was trained with pee pads in house by her foster parents. She is good at peeing and pooping outdoors but she pees indoors at least once a day. We take her out every 2 hours, she is crate trained, we have moved the crate around the house as well so she knows all of the house is hers. We also praise her every time she pees outside and we take her to the same spot. Any suggestions on trying to undo her habit of thinking it's okay to pee in the house.
roamer2810 on August 21, 2012:
Any suggestions for dogs that have to be alone for long period. I sometimes work 10 to 12 hrs and my dogs one a rescue foster are not able to hold it that long.
tallglassofsass (author) from Salem, MA on August 15, 2012:
Joni, breeders say the WEIRDEST things sometimes. Breeders who breed dogs, it's usually their bread and butter, and that being said, they don't leave their house every day for an 8 hour shift. They have more than 1 dog so it is unlikely the dogs will get into mischief out of boredom. And being that breeding is a demanding way of life, breeders' lives mostly revolve around their dogs and not deadlines, carpools, fundraisers, tap dancing, or what I'd like to call "the people world." They have a system, it works for them in their microcosm, but it doesn't translate out to a regular family who just wants a regular family dog. I spend a considerable amount of time talking to pet parents about this when their dogs come from breeders. Moving on... There is no magic to pee pads. Companies try to claim that dogs are attracked to their pee pads through a scent, but it's completely synthetic and therefore not very reliable. Your dog is hitting the pee pad 70/30 because my assumption is that it's not exactly the pad he's looking to hit, it's what he sees when he's peeing. To him he thinks, 'when I look at this sconce, [painting, picture, clock] I get to pee undeterred.' So if the pad (which is in the same place all the time) is slightly askew he's not gonna hit his target. The problem now is that you've taught him that it is ok to pee in the house, so correcting that will take some effort on your part. Ok... So does he pee outside ever? If so, great move onto to the next step. If he doesn't, you might need to capture some of his urine after he has had an accident, and turkey baster that outside in a desired location. I know, that's weird, but you've got to get him to associate his scent with outdoors. The next step is to get him to pee outside and when he does lavish him with treats and praise immediately. Take him out frequently. Ignore him when he pees inside. Get him on a feeding schedule so that you can predict his potty times. If you think he is associating the pads with potty, over time, you can try to inch the pads closer to the door, and then outside the door, and into the backyard... and then get rid of them for good!
tallglassofsass (author) from Salem, MA on August 15, 2012:
Kevin, it's hard for me to diagnose the problem when I don't know quite enough about the problem. It could be because there is a scent in the upstairs that gives him the impression that it is ok to eliminate on that floor. So the solution would be to clean top and bottom with an enzymatic cleaner. It could be because he doesn't have as much supervision upstairs. Assuming that the bottom floor is where everyone is or hangs out, he could be breaking away for upstairs to poop in private. The solution here is to bar unsupervised access to the upstairs until he is 100% accident free. Use a baby gate, you can get them cheap at Walmart. The last thing it might be is that, you've got a Bichon and Bichons feel like they can poop wherever the hell they feel like it. And my solution to you, then, would be stop treating him like he's the Queen of England, get him outside and running around, take him out in the cold, or the heat, or the rain. Lay some ground rules and stick to them. Be firm. But fair.
tallglassofsass (author) from Salem, MA on August 15, 2012:
Sharon, I apologize for the late response. If you haven't already fixed the problem, my suggestion to you is to get rid of the pee pads. He's not quite using them for the intended purpose, they're probably making him sick, what a hassle. He's already starting to hold it over night, keep up with that. I agree with the gate. But if he'e shredding the pads, you might as well just leave nothing down. Either way will yield you a mess in the morning, unless he's also eating his own waste, leaving nothing down at least will keep him from getting sick. At your puppy's age, it is important to not force him to hold his bladder too long. Take him out the last thing you do before you go to bed, but offer no playtime aftwerward. Take him out first thing when you get up. Think about when you go to the bathroom and think, he probably has to go now too. Get rid of those pads, though, they are a waste of money.
Joni on August 15, 2012:
My maltese is 3 months old..I've had him for 2 wks and today after picking up the throw rug & the pad (the corner was on the floor)that lays on the nice bed from LL Bean with the nice temperpedic cushion (spoiled)...I said that is it! You are going to learn to go potty OUTSIDE, like the other 2 dogs that live here. I have a doggie door and a fenced in yard but the lady that breeds and shows the maltese dogs, somehow convinced me that these dogs were trained to already use these horrible pads. He is trained to sometimes HIT the pad, but it's 70/30...the pad 30. Well, she also told me how smart they are, and he is, very smart. Apparently smarter than me, I listened to her! I am on a mission...I am like your parents with the crate but crate it's gonna be...I'll let ya know who wins!
Kevin Li on August 08, 2012:
I just got a bichon frise. He is 7 months old and very playful. He rarely has an accident downstairs. Upstairs however, he will pee and poop wherever he wants. We take him out frequently.(ie in the morning, after meals, before bed,) How do we corrrect this?
Sharon on July 16, 2012:
I found this article really interesting! Thank you. I have a 3 month old pup and he's pretty good about going outside. He rarely has an accident in the house. However, at night we leave a wee wee pad for him (we gate him in the kitchen since he's not 100% accident free). He always goes on the wee wee pad (some nights he's able to hold it) but he's starting to rip up the wee wee pad and eat it. His stools have been a little loose and I'm guessing this has to do with it. Do you have suggestions for night time and/or times when you have to leave your puppy alone for a few hours? Thank you!
tallglassofsass (author) from Salem, MA on June 25, 2012:
Eddy, first off... how did you get a 6 week old puppy? Puppies need to stay with their moms and their littermates until they are, at the very least, 7 weeks. 9 weeks is even better. They need that time with their moms to learn where to potty. It's very important for other things too, like bite inhibition and socialization. It's good that you have other dogs around to be role models for the new puppy, but it's not the best. Your breeder or shelter should know better than to let you have a puppy before the right time. Well, what's done is done, you'll just have a little more work to do. You've got a handle on the crate? The crate, right now is the most important thing for her, no excuses. Make sure it is so small that she only has enough room to go in and turn around, but not so much room that she could pee and escape it. Keep her crate clean but comfortable. Put a crate pad in there for her so that she's not on the hard plastic, or you could put a towel in there. If she does have an accident in there, clean it immediately, but don't call any attention to it. You don't want her to be afraid of eliminating. Keep her on a feeding schedule. Take her out, like, once an hour, not longer than 2. She's still so young that when you do take her out, you might want to bring a warm washcloth with you, and gently wipe her lady parts to stimulate that area. Mama dogs will lick their puppies to stimulate them to potty. Treats and calm praise for each time she even puts a drop outside. 100% forgiveness policy for accidents inside. You gotta clean it up right away and never speak of it, or make her feel guilty. When taking her outside, keep her leashed, bring her to the potty spot and if she goes, then she can have playtime outside or some strictly supervised exploring time indoors. But at this time, untethered access to the house is too much for her. If you are not directly playing with her or socializing her with the other dogs in the house, she should be in her crate. She should be in her crate whenever your eyes are not on her, because as a very young puppy, there are many things that she can get into that could harm her... from nasty spills down a staircase, to wires, to chemicals. Next steps: If there is something the puppy has peed on (shirt, throw rug, pillow, towel) put that outside in the yard so she associates that pee smell with outside. This is going to sound weird, but keep a potty journal. In it, write down where she peed, what time she peed, and what preceeded the accident. You'll be able to see a pattern, and it will be easier for you to predict when peeing might occur so you can bring her outside before it becomes an accident. She'll start to get used to this peeing ooutdoors thing, but maintain the routine. When you take her outside, leash her and bring her to the potty spot. Business time first then play. If she does not potty outside, you should put her in her crate, or otherwise leash her to you (DO NOT leash her to furniture), it must be you or other adult in the house. A dog is less likely to just pee right in front of you, so if they are attached to you, you can see the warning signs that they need to pee, such as tail up in the air and sniffing around in circles. You've got a long road ahead, I wish you luck, and there is anything I can help you with, please ask.
tallglassofsass (author) from Salem, MA on June 25, 2012:
Helen, try to see if your neighbor is leashing the dog to take her to the potty place instead of just letting her out. Dogs need to be guided to the specific place to go. Treat and praise immediately for potty in the potty spot. Waiting until you get inside again is too late. When the dog realizes that he gets treats for the potty spot, and no treats for the porch, the dog will adjust his behavior to get the better outcome. Be very consistent. The more consistent the quicker the training.
eddy on June 24, 2012:
My 1.5 month old baby pit/boxer mix WILL not potty out outside but the second we bring her in she pees inside...she poops n pees EVERY WHERE its now starting to make my 2.5yrs dog pee in the house!!! What can I do??!!??
helen williams on June 03, 2012:
My neighbor found a cute dog. We are dog lovers. First we looked for the owner, no chip so it's difficult. He was clean and well cared for he is even house trained, but no one's looking for him. So he's very trained BUT he pees on her outside porch. How can she stop that? Help!!
tallglassofsass (author) from Salem, MA on April 22, 2011:
I am so glad! Potty training is the most important thing for a dog to learn. It shouldn't be stressful if you are diligent. Good for you!
lexi on April 22, 2011:
i found this so useful my puppie was so easy to potty train after reading this we are all very happy and wee free now