How to Train Your Puppy to Use a Puppy Pee Pad

Puppy pee pads are a popular option for canine potty training. Some dog parents tout them as a “puppy house training must-have”, other dog families aren’t so keen. You’ll find dog trainers that love them, while others…not so much.

But how do you know if they’re right for you and your dog?

Let’s dive into the what are’s, how to’s and why’s of puppy pee pads to see!

What Is a Puppy Pee Pad? 

Puppy pee pads, also called pee pads or puppy pads, is catch all term for a common way to prevent indoor potty accidents and house train puppies and dogs. Most pee pads are made of a gauze material with light blue plastic underneath. When your puppy goes potty, the urine gets soaked up by the puppy pee pad and solids remain on the surface.

There are disposable and reusable puppy pee pads that you can choose from depending on what you prefer. 

Disposable puppy pee pads have limited use. You’ll need to change them out often to ensure a clean potty spot for your pup. Some brands use a dog attractant that reportedly encourages puppies to potty on them.

In comparison, you can wash reusable puppy pee pads for multiple uses. While often pricier, many prefer the eco-friendliness that comes with reusable pee pads.

You can pick up pee pads from most grocery or pet supply stores, where you'll find different brands and sizes for your puppy’s potty training needs.

How Long Does It Take to Train a Puppy to Pee on a Pad?

With the help of a crate and dedicated time, you can potty train your puppy in as little as 7 days if you use the proper potty training techniques! Crate time and a dog gate help puppies learn healthy boundaries and to wait for potty breaks. 

Confining your puppy when you can't watch them makes them feel safe as well as protects your house from a puppy disaster.

Confine your puppy to a crate or a gated space when you can't watch them.

When you use a command to "go potty" every time your puppy is on the pee pad, they will begin to quickly recognize it as their potty spot. If your puppy displays signs of needing to go, bring them over to the pee pad and use the potty command.

Developing a puppy potty training schedule is the best way to potty train your puppy, so begin that process to figure out your puppy's natural rhythm.

When figuring out your puppy's potty schedule, watch for signs that your puppy needs to go potty. These potty signs include pacing, sniffing the ground, and squatting. Then, take your puppy to the pee pad immediately before an accident occurs. Give them praise and a treat, even if they don't need to go potty. Placing them on the pee pad still teaches them to go on it for potty time. 

Use a Crate or Keep Your Puppy in a Confined Area

You can use a dog crate for potty training or to keep your puppy in a confined area when it's rest time. Don’t place a pee pad in your puppy's crate. However, if you opt for a confined space rather than a crate, you should place puppy pads in a confined area to protect the floor. 

Puppy pee pads can be a useful tool when potty training your puppy.
Puppy pads, or pee pads can save your floors in the event of an accident.

Why not in the crate? The purpose of a puppy crate is to give your puppy a safe, clean place to sleep and relax. They are den animals and their natural instincts guide them to not soil where they sleep. Your puppy won't want to sleep where they pee, so it’s best not to place pee pads in the crate.

A confined space (like a gated laundry or utility room), will be larger than a dog crate. You won’t risk training against their natural instincts by keeping puppy pads on the floor of a confined area with a puppy gate.

By using a crate, you are enlisting the help of your dog's natural den instincts which makes potty training easier.
Make your puppy's crate safe and comfortable.

When using a crate for potty training, keep your puppy in the crate and take them out to potty at two-hour intervals.

5 Steps to Pee Pad Success

Now that you know what puppy pee pads are, how long can potty training take and you’re ready with your crate or confined puppy space, let’s dive into the actual steps to training your puppy to use puppy pee pads.

1. Choose a location. You’ll want to pick a consistent spot in your home for the pee pad that is close to where you’ll spend most of your time with your puppy. If your end goal is for your pup to relieve themself outside, as you achieve success with potty training, you can slowly move that puppy pad spot closer and closer to the door.

2. Introduce your pup to the pee pad. Let your pup sniff the pee pad and walk onto it to get familiar with it. Then, use a command like "go potty" every time your pup steps on the pee pad.

3. Watch for signs your puppy has to go. Puppies need to pee and poop a lot. Depending on their age, size and activity level, how long they can go without pottying varies quite a bit. You can watch for signs that it’s “go time”or just take them to the pee pad 5-10 minutes after eating, drinking, sleeping or playing. Common signs your pup needs to pee or poop are: pacing, sniffing at the ground while ignoring toys and attention, circling or squatting.

4. Reward and praise for successes. The best timing for praise is as they begin to pee or poop. Include your chosen potty command, like “Good ‘Go potty’! Good boy!” And follow up with their favorite treat or toy.

5. Be consistent. Establish a regular potty schedule. By keeping meals, play time and potty breaks consistent, you’ll take much of the guesswork out of when your puppy needs to pee.

Make potty training fun. Lavish praise for successes and never punish for accidents in the house.

Never punish or scold your dog for accidents in the house.

How Often Should Pee Pads Be Changed?

Depending on the amount of pee that soaks into the pee pad, one disposable pee pad should last two or three times before needing replacement. Because you'll need to change these pee pads, keep an eye on how much urine they're handling after your puppy uses them. If these disposable pee pads get too soaked, they could leak urine on the floor. 

Keep an eye on your puppy that he or she doesn’t tear up the puppy pee pad. Leaving the torn pee pad will only teach your pup that it's okay to destroy them, even if it's a fresh pee pad. Torn puppy pads also don’t work as well and will leak.

Reusable pee pads should be washed after two days or sooner if your pup pees a lot. Some of these pee pads have odor control, but don’t wait for a pee pad to stink to be your cue to change it out with a new one. 

Reusable pee pads offer a more eco-friendly option to disposable puppy pads.

Reusable pee pads are machine washable.

These reusable pee pads are usually chew-proof and might be a better option if your puppy has a penchant for chewing on anything and everything.

Many reusable pee pads are made of absorbent cotton or microfiber material with a waterproof backing to prevent leaks. Most reusable pee pads can go in the washing machine and dryer, but you’ll need to read the care instructions for your specific puppy pee pad. 

Do Pee Pads Encourage Dogs to Pee Inside?

Puppy pee pads are a good solution to preventing potty accidents indoors while house training, but these pads can backfire when treated as a long-term solution. Solely relying on pee pads for your puppy could make them believe that the entire living space is their potty.

This could lead to your puppy peeing on rugs, the carpet, the couch, throw pillows or blankets. One way to avoid this problem is to stay consistent with your potty schedule even after your puppy seems fully house trained.

Even if your puppy seems to be reliable with house training, it's important to stick to your potty training schedule.

Many dog parents slack off on potty training schedules too soon.

Although pee pads are great for training and if you're in a pinch, don't rely on only them whenever your pup needs to go potty. Puppy crate time, outdoor potty time, and pee pads can work together when given equal time.

Remember, pee pads shouldn’t be a lifetime solution.

What comes after pee pads?

As your puppy grows and develops better bladder and bowel control, you may simply want your dog to go outside to pee or poop. To achieve this, every few days, place the puppy pad closer to the door until eventually, you can stop using pee pads and just take them out.

If there’s an accident, don’t sweat it. Just back up to the last place your puppy was consistently using the pee pad and try again in a few days.

What if I don’t have a yard for my dog to use?

You may be like many other dog families where transitioning your puppy to use a yard isn’t an option. Perhaps you live in an apartment, maybe there are safety or mobility issues, or maybe you simply like keeping your lawn clear of “land mines”.

Another option is transitioning your puppy to a more permanent and long-term “dog litter box” like Porch Potty. Built to last your puppy’s lifetime, Porch Potty can be used both indoors and out.

Porch Potty is a dog potty solution built to last your puppy's lifetime. This "dog litter box" can be used with artificial turf or real sod.
Porch Potty is a versatile dog toilet that can be used indoors or outside.

Porch Potty looks great, is designed to withstand the elements and won't blow around on a windy day. The drainage system makes clean up a snap and keeps odors under control.

Training your puppy to use the Porch Potty with or without the help of puppy pads follows a lot of the same steps mentioned here. Download our FREE Habit Method if you’d like to learn more about how to potty train your puppy like the pros with Porch Potty.

Final thoughts about Puppy Pads

At the end of the day, puppy pads can be powerful, potty training tools, but they are not without their considerations. Regardless of the direction you choose, it’s important to remember consistency, praise, patience along with a healthy sense of humor will go a long way to making potty training a positive and bonding adventure for you and your puppy.

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