5 Reasons I Hate Potty Pads, But if You Have to Teach Your Dog to go Indoors, Here’s How
5 Reasons I Hate Potty Pads, But if You Have to Teach Your Dog To Go Indoors, Here’s How
It’s true, I’ve said it, I’ve written about it, and I HATE potty pads!
1) You Give Up
Most people go to the store and buy potty pads and think they are some kind of miracle.
Place the potty pads in designated areas and sit back and let your puppy find them and use them.
Walla! He is now potty trained! (Not Really)
It is like potty pads are a license to give up on actual potty training.
The truth is, they are not a miracle, they are detrimental to your potty training at best.
Teaching a dog or a puppy to go potty outside is WORK!
It is your job to make sure your puppy gets outside right after he wakes, 20 minutes after he drinks or pees, after he exercises and about every two hours in the beginning.
It is your job to make sure he can’t wander off and throughout your house without being constantly accompanied or watched by you!
It is your job to catch him in the act of having an accident, and calmly and kindly get him outside so that he can be conditioned to where he should relieve himself.
99% of dogs will have accidents in the house, it is our job as owners and partners to kindly (no beating, no rubbing of noses) catch them and teach them where to go.
It isn’t easy!
If it was, no one would have problems and I wouldn’t get this question several times per week.
After all, dogs aren’t born with our rules and social norms, they have no problem going potty in their space, until they are taught and given other options.
2) They Are Confusing at Best
Let’s look at it from your puppy or dog’s stand point…
You scatter these things all over in the house, they have one or several attractive smells (like ammonia) and encourage your dog to use them to urinate and defecate.
At least in the “old days”, newspaper had a very unique and different smell and feel.
Nothing else in your house smells like or feels like newspaper, not your laundry, not your carpet, not your rugs, which is the big reason that newspaper often worked but potty pads create more of a problem than they are worth.
3) It Teaches Your Dog to Potty Indoors
Either you want your dog to potty indoors, or you don’t!
When you have a puppy, encouraging or allowing both is confusing.
I mean how does your puppy know that your intention is to actually have him going potty outdoors full time?
It is especially confusing if you aren’t teaching him, I mean can you honestly say you are taking him outside or to his indoor spot as often as he needs to go and you aren’t allowing him to wander alone?
In the beginning, I recommend that you either choose to potty train your dog for outdoors or indoors! Once he is older and conditioned to the path that you have chosen (indoor or outdoor) THEN you can teach him another way!
That way you can train your dog for one or the other and condition him. I have found in my years of dog training, that usually what a dog learns first becomes his default in times of stress.
After all, teaching a human toddler potty training is difficult enough, imagine having different rules in different places!
4) It is Hard to Distinguish a Potty Pad from Your Things
For your dog, it is often hard to distinguish a potty pad from your other things.
Think about it; potty pads are soft and plush and smell like ammonia.
Carpet is also soft and plush.
Bathroom rugs are also plush and soft and smell like our human (ammonia scent).
Human sweat and urine often smells like ammonia (even to us in some circumstances) now remember that your dog’s nose is thousands of times more powerful and sensitive than your own nose.
No wonder these dogs pull down towels, and pee on laundry and carpet; because of course by using ammonia scented potty pads we are in fact teaching him to do so!
Interesting thought right?
I mean, most people don’t realize how stinky we are (to our dogs) and how our own odor can increase the likelihood of our dogs using our things as a place to mark or put their own scent and relieve himself.
Heck, he figures you did!
We alleviate this when we teach our dog that outside is the only place to use to relieve himself.
5) It is a Main Cause of Euthanasia
A large majority of dogs end up in shelters because people either can’t or won’t potty train their dogs.
After years of accidents, or new carpet or flooring people decide to get rid of their problem dog.
Most of these discarded dogs never make it out of the shelter.
After all, who wants a dog that they KNOW will soil their house?
And, the hard part is that bad habits or poor conditioning (a behavior that has become a habit) is hard to change!
When all of that can be avoided if the people would just devote the time and effort it takes to potty train their dogs.
Potty training is more about the person getting the dog out (or in to an appropriate spot) and not allowing bad habits to form than it is about the puppy or the dog.
I Used to Teach Dogs to Potty in the Bathtub!
What if You NEED Your Dog to Potty Inside?
So what if you need your dog or your puppy to go potty indoors?
Occasionally there is a person who can’t take their dog out; or perhaps they work such long hours that they simply need their dog to go potty indoors!
It CAN be done!
But, I will tell you it is even more difficult, in most respects, than potty training outdoors can be.
20 years ago, before there were ever indoor grass potty spots, I was teaching dogs to pee and poop in the bathtub!
Yes, it is true!
I trained Service Dogs, and a couple of my clients wanted to take their dogs with them on a cruise ship.
As you can probably imagine, a cruise ship is not set up to have grass for dogs to poop and pee.
Yet the physically disabled partner relies on his/her Service Dog! And, they should be allowed to travel together!
So before there were indoor doggy patches, we were using grass carpeting in the shower/tub (of course it was easier to clean up here).
In the beginning, we used a very large piece of grass carpeting, and slowly as the dog became used to going potty in the shower; we could cut it down to a tiny piece that could simply be tossed into any shower.
Sounds easy right?
The Hard Part
Like potty training a puppy to go outdoors, this took time and effort, even more so than regular potty training.
When I am potty training a puppy to go outside, all I have to do is take him out and release him into a yard.
The puppy can run off a distance away and relieve himself.
With indoor potty training you can’t take the dog outside (after all, it is indoors where you want him to go), you have to take him on leash to that ONE spot and wait for him to go potty there.
Often I had dogs that would hold their bladders for hours and hours not wanting to go potty inside.
And, I had dogs that would refuse to poop for over 24 hours for the same reason.
It took time and consistency taking the dog to the same spot inside and not wavering.
Every 2 hours, sometimes more, I would walk the dog to the shower and ask him to go potty and then wait.
Just like outdoor potty training, I couldn’t then allow the dog to run off leash in the house or he would likely find his own place to relieve himself; which of course was what we were trying to avoid.
Imagine from the dog’s perspective being confused and just wanting a moment to get away so he could relieve himself.
Not one moment of being by himself was allowed.
If he was restless he was taken to the grassy spot in the shower, no exceptions.
We knew, as trainers, how bad it would be if the dog were to poop or pee anywhere he wanted. 20 years ago Guide and Service Dogs were much less accepted and an incident like that could ban dogs on all other cruises. Heck, I remember the story of the “Service Pig” that pooped all over a plane and the desire people had to stop letting service animals on planes.
Therein Lies Some Difference
But, therein lies the difference, we were dog trainers; we knew the importance of consistency!
We knew there were no exceptions.
We could not allow the dog to have accidents in the house, or give way to taking him outside (let’s admit I considered this several times).
This is What Potty Training Comes Down to
Yes, I do think it is important early the in training of your puppy to decide are you an indoor or outdoor potty person and stick with it until you have your first goal (later you can get your dog ready for a cruise).
But it doesn’t matter, indoor or outdoor, what does matter is YOUR consistency and YOUR willingness to not take your eyes off of a learning dog or puppy (use a crate when you can’t) and not accept any exceptions.
After all, your dog’s life might just depend on it one day!