Potty training a puppy isn’t all that easy. Sure, it’s something that virtually every dog owner goes through as part of housebreaking, but that doesn’t mean that there’s anything pleasant about that particular journey. If you have a new puppy, you’ll expect to spend an untoward amount of time and energy trying to figure out if you can even get your dog to go to the bathroom outside.
While going outside is definitely the best choice for more dogs, it’s not always something that you can expect from a puppy. If you live in an apartment, for example, or your mobility is limited, you simply won’t be able to expect to get your dog out as often as he or she might like. That, fortunately, is where puppy training pads come in.
The good news is that it’s fairly easy to find these pads. The bad news, though, is that it can be difficult to figure out how to use them to potty train a puppy. Fortunately, we’ve put together a brief guide that can help you through this trying process.
Never a Short Process
Let’s go ahead and get one thing out of the way: any attempt you make to potty train a puppy is going to be frustrating. No matter how quick a study your puppy might be, it’s going to feel like the potty training process is going to take forever. Try to remember, though, that this is the fault of your perception rather than a fault of your puppy. In reality, he or she is actually attempting to deal with quite a bit and is likely doing a much better job than you realize.
If you’re still frustrated, let’s try to keep a few things in mind when potty training. First and foremost, let’s remember that puppies really can’t control their bladders for the first year of their lives. In fact, it’s fantastic when a puppy is able to hold his or her bladder for more than a few hours – the formula that most use puts bladder control time at a few hours, usually the number of months old plus one for the average puppy.
You also need to remember that you’re really training a dog here. This isn’t something that comes naturally to him or her. It’s not quite as difficult as learning algebra might be for a human, but it’s something that requires a lot of conditioning. Give your dog some credit – he or she is probably doing fine.
Never Let Your Puppy Train Alone
Potty training with pee pads is serious business and it requires more supervision than you might imagine. Simply put, you’re going to have to have your eyes on the dog if you want him or her to keep using the puppy pee pads. There are a few key things to keep in mind here to make sure that you’re properly observing your dog during the pad training process.
First and foremost, make sure that you take your dog to the pee pad as often as possible. Yes, this means a lot of work for you but it helps to familiarize your pup with the pee pads. If you can’t remember to do this on your own, set a timer – if it’s a very young puppy, you might only go fifteen minutes between trips. If the puppy is older, though, you might only go once an hour.
You also need to be observant when the puppy isn’t near the pad. If the puppy is sniffing around, whining, or going in circles, it’s time for you to get back to the pad. If you can’t keep track of your puppy to observe these behaviors, keep him or her on a leash so that you can keep your dog in sight. If you have to let the dog out of your site, you need to put him or her somewhere where he or she can’t get out.
Crates are a Must
Animals don’t like to use the bathroom where they sleep. This is as true for dogs as it is for any other species, so take advantage of this fact by crate training your dog at the same time as you are potty training your dog.
While you might think putting your dog in a crate is cruel, the truth is that your puppy will love his or her crate if you use it correctly. Your dog’s crate should become his or her hideout and den rather than a spot where he or she goes when punished, so make sure that you treat the crating process with due care.
When you get a crate for your dog, make sure that it’s not too big. While you might think that a big crate means more freedom, what it really means is that your dog is going to be able to designate part of that space as a potty spot. If you do have a big crate, simply use a divider to make sure that the crate is only big enough for the dog to turn around and lie down in rather than big enough for him or her to wander.
The big tip for you as you potty train a puppy is to associate getting out of the crate with using the potty pad. As soon as your dog comes out, he or she should head to the pad to go potty. After a few trips, your dog will come to think of this as part of his or her routine.
Consistency With Pee Pads is Key
Routines are key when trying to get your dog used to potty pad training. The more consistent you can be with your approach, the better. That’s why setting timers can end up being quite important – if you take your dog at the same time every day, your dog will know to wait until that time to go to the bathroom.
So, how do you stay consistent? Start by looking at your dog’s routine. If you know that your dog always has to go when he or she wakes up, make sure that you take your dog to the pad immediately upon waking up every morning. Likewise, keep looking at your dog’s natural routine to find spots where potty breaks simply make sense. If your puppy isn’t asking to go to the pad, take him or her there once every hour or so just to help reinforce the idea of going there when necessary.
Rewards For Using The Potty Pad
Rewards are also an important part of training your puppy to use a potty pad. This is positive reinforcement and it absolutely works wonders with dogs of all ages. If your dog associates using the potty pad with getting something he or she wants, he or she is going to use the pad more often.
Note that dogs don’t have as great a memory as you might expect, so you’re going to want to make sure that all of your rewards are immediate. Keep a bowl of treats near the pad and reward your dog as soon as he or she is finished going to the bathroom. If you don’t want to use a treat, immediately praise your dog – sometimes even that will work some magic with your dog.
Transitioning Away from the Pad
After you do all of this work to get your puppy pad trained, you may eventually want to transition to getting your puppy to use the bathroom outside. The bad news is that this means training your dog all over again, but the good news is that you can keep on using the same techniques you used to get your puppy to the pad in the first place.
One of the best ways to make this process a little faster is to keep using the pad. Spend some time slowly moving the pad from its usual spot to one that’s outside. Once you get it outside, slowly start reducing the size of the pad. In time, your dog will get so used to going outside to use the potty that he or she simply won’t notice that the pad has been removed.
What About Accidents?
Accidents are going to happen.
No matter how much planning you do and no matter how hard you try, your puppy is going to have an accident during the course of pad training. The hardest thing that you’re going to have to do in this process is learning how to deal with those accidents, and the way you have to behave isn’t necessarily what you might have been conditioned to believe.
The best way to deal with an accident is to catch it as it happens. If you see that your puppy is trying to go, try to get him or her to stop – a quick word should be enough, no need to yell. If you yell, you’ll convince the dog to hide from you while going to the bathroom, which may undo quite a bit of your work.
Once you catch your puppy, get him or her to the potty training pad immediately. This will allow your dog to keep on associating going to the bathroom with going to the potty pad, which will help him or she remember next time. This is actually the kind of teachable moment that can reinforce your goals more than you might expect.
What happens if your puppy has a mess and you don’t see it? Honestly, the only thing to do is to clean it with a cleaner that will get rid of the smell so that your puppy doesn’t come back to the same spot. Yelling at your dog or rubbing his or her nose in the mess won’t do anything.
You’re going to have to be patient, kind, and generous as you work through potty training with your dog. If you’re consistent, though, you’ll end up with a pet who is trained to use potty pads.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do you train a puppy to pee on a pee pad?
The answer here is patience and consistency. Start by taking your puppy to the pad frequently, praising him or her every time he or she pees there. From there, set a schedule and continue to bring your puppy there as needed. If you note that he or she has to go, bring the puppy to the pad. In time, going there will be second nature for your dog.
2. Do puppy pads hinder potty training?
Puppy pads should actually be a fantastic potty training tool. They do a great job of teaching your dog to go to a specific place rather than going anywhere that he or she likes. For many dog owners, these pads are a gateway to getting the dog to use the bathroom outside.
3. Are puppy training pads a good idea?
Yes, these pads can be great. Not only are they good tools for those who are working on traditional potty training, but they also work well for those who may not be able to get their dogs outside as often as they like.
4. How long does it take to train a puppy to use a pee pad?
It depends on the puppy. It can take more than a year for your puppy to get full bladder control, but you should expect the process to take weeks if not months before you can really expect your puppy to catch on.