5 Reasons I Hate Potty Pads, But if You Have to Teach Your Dog to go Indoors, Here’s How

  • Pin It

  • Pin It

5 Reasons I Hate Potty Pads, But if You Have to Teach Your Dog To Go Indoors, Here’s How

potty pads, how to train your puppy to pee on a pad

It’s true, I’ve said it, I’ve written about it, and I HATE potty pads!

Here’s Why:

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…potty pads, how to train your puppy to pee on a pad

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.

Gotta Dog Who Isn’t Potty Trained?

Discover the 12 step potty training process for potty training your dog in the shortest amount of time possible, inside my FREE Potty Training Secrets program.

Click here for your FREE copy of my Potty Training Secrets program

Because…

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

potty pads, how to train your puppy to pee on a padFor 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.

potty pads, how to train your puppy to pee on a pad

 

5) It is a Main Cause of Euthanasiapotty pads, how to train your puppy to pee on a pad

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

potty pads, how to train your puppy to pee on a padLike 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!

potty pads, how to train your puppy to pee on a pad

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

There are 31 Comments

  1. I just started crate training and I never had to do it with my last dog. I really don’t like it when I hear him bark or most of all whine. Am I doing the right thing. I am up to 1 1/2 hours that was okay that was for one day. just need your thoughts on crate training. I am willing to do the work

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Crate training comes with some barking and whining, that is just part of the process. it is all about waiting till they are quiet and then getting them out and then also working on crate training when you are home. I have lots of free articles you can look up if you use the search bar at the top of the page.

    [Reply]

  2. maria says:

    I used entrenend puppt inside l you talk. For me is wort good because i am to old for running fast a outside. Thank you for your help.

    [Reply]

  3. Babs Scotson says:

    my dog is going on a 15 hour international flight but has to be at the airport 5 hours before the flight leaves and will be fasting a total of 24 hours ..except for a drip feed of water only during the flight…..The Quarantine people in the country hes going to report the bedding is usually soiled with urine and faeces and is thrown out on arrival at their facility….I know he will be distressed having to go potty in his confined crate and there is absolutely NO CONTACT between him in cargo/baggage hold and me in the cabin…and a mild calming sedative is absolutely prohibited…I have started fasting him by giving him breakfast at 7am following his walk the day before his weekly obedience training then starving him until after his training the following day at 11am….but giving him a very small treat for going potty each time and obeying verbal and other hand commands…he is 8 years old and had never been trained or socialized and the airlines will not let him travel otherwise…he has been to 4 of his 6 classes and is doing well and I’m thinking of enrolling him in the advanced obedience class a further 6 weeks…and I’m getting him the air travel specified large crate to get him accustomed to it …and I’ll get the water drip feed attached and he can eventually spend a few nights in it preparatory to his long haul flight….I understand there is a natural spray you can spray on his bedding which gives a calming effect cant remember what its called but it might be lavender??? …any tips what else I could do?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    The spray is called Adaptil but the truth is there is no way you can really train for an event like this, the sounds the change in air pressure etc are not things you can mimic. The best thing to do is give him some bedding and just relax and tell yourself there is nothing else that can be done

    [Reply]

  4. Coyote says:

    Really? Get a six pound Chihuahua to get into the bath tub? I don’t use a bathtub. Who wants to soak in dirty water? So I could leave the shower door open and hope all three go in there. But only one dog is allowed in the bedroom.
    We have dog doors from the house to the patio and another that lets them out into the yard. Good luck with that when it rains or snows. So piddle pad is in place 24/7.
    Solution is a washable piddle pad in the pantry. They only use it when the weather is rainy, snowy or too blowy.
    Have been doing rescue for 18 years, 1,000+ placed. Only two left. Skipper a little whitle love bug and Samuel Adams who just finish obedience and agility. Once they find their perfect homes I will quit rescue and start painting again.
    P.S. A carpet cleaner is well woth the investment.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    You misunderstand. As I said 20 years ago there were no indoor grass potty spots, and in order to train service dogs we had to improvise and it is a lot easier to clean the tub or shower than it is to clean carpet. Plus, as mentioned the cruise ships would have showers etc.

    I would much prefer the grass potty spots but we were successful

    [Reply]

  5. Linda Marie Chavez says:

    Confused about potty pads, but understand it must be even more confusing for the dogs. We have 3 “inherited/fostered” dogs, all males…2 chi/terrier mixes and a big lab/shepherd, who never has an accident inside, (Thank God!) The “problem child” came to us semi-trained to potty pads and the outside while still squatting instead of lifting his leg.

    We put in a doggy door in the laundry room, but still made a potty pad available under the open door, with paper towel layers taped to the door edge, to accommodate males. ” Problem child” often uses it, but will also pee on my adjacent laundry baskets, even sacks of their food stored there, instead. I use vinegar to clean up. Nothing is sacred and off limits for him. He pees in the kitchen feeding area, and other places. Getting neutered Monday, so hope that helps. Also rivalry with his sire, also intact, til Monday, lots of aggression, territory marking etc. QUESTION: Should I get rid of potty pad station in laundry or keep for now, with surgical changes coming? PS lots of great info in article above. Help!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I would get rid of the potty pads yes, and I would try and pick everything up off the ground until this habit goes away. If you leave him, leave him in a crate where he doesn’t have many options.

    [Reply]

  6. Fiona says:

    Brilliant, as usual. We have used your blog and “Hands Off” dog training since we had a Seeing Eye Dog puppy about 7 years ago (and 6 Guide dog puppies).Your information has been invaluable. It has facilitated routine (read security enforcement) positive, efficient training and this post is no exception. Rescue dogs, pet dogs and service dogs need consistency and direction to know they can trust their leader to provide for their needs…our Guide dog puppies have been no exception.
    Usually the app tool is enough to preempt their need to toilet so we can take them to the right place, but this is a fabulous idea for older dogs needing toileting in an apartment. I will be letting my friend with the new baby, in her apartment know about this!

    [Reply]

  7. Linda Marie Chavez says:

    My husband is also an artist/painter and should get back to creativity when the dogs’ problems get resolved. See details of my problems in my post…also confused about doggy door and potty pads, little dogs vs big dogs, and male dogs, territorial urination and aggression in intact males etc. Hopefully not such a big issue after neutering on Monday.
    Yes, inclement weather is another issue, but I really want to get away from potty pads, entirely. Would love to hear Minette’s advice on how to wean adult dogs off potty pads! Good luck getting back to your painting. Few people realize how much time, effort and commitment it is, to foster or have dogs.
    It is even hard in the average house to designate a room or a spot for a potty pad. Like the idea of using a walk-in shower vs bathtub, if you have one. Like the idea of eliminating potty pads completely even better! Lin

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    The problem with adult dogs is that peeing and or pooping on everything is a habit. And, habits are difficult if not nearly impossible to break in a dog without lots and lots of work. Read this to understand why http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/bad-habits-hard-break/

    [Reply]

  8. Nancy says:

    Hi! Great article! I agree with everything you said. I’m not sure what the 5th reason is for your dislike of Potty Pads. I got the following 4 points: 1) it’s confusing for the dog 2) teaches them to go indoors, 3) hard for them to distinguish between potty pads and your things 4) it’s the main cause of Euthanasia. What am I missing? Thanks!!!

    [Reply]

  9. Amanda says:

    I have two Chaweenie brothers that are 11 months old now. Right when I think I have one on the right track the other seems to mess it up. We adopted the runt of the litter. He is small, cute and scared of everything to include a small breeze. I have tried to train him outside and inside. We even got one of those puppy apartment crates. He seemed to do pretty well with it but both dogs are diggers and chew up any sort of paper products. I would be okay with just using puppy pads if they actually used then and not played with them. And now they seem to think it is okay to pee anywhere they want, usually my bed. I’m at my wits end. I work all day so they spend most of the day by themselves in the dinning room area with our back door open so the can go outside. Can you give me some additional advice?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    That is why I don’t like puppy pads.

    [Reply]

  10. Jan says:

    Hi I have a four Month old Yorkshire terrier I love her to bits but she has started walking round and round. She does it when she’s excited and can spin very fast
    Other than that she’s a lovely little dog play’s all day with her toys in and out of the garden

    [Reply]

  11. Dean says:

    I take my 4 month old mini schnauzer out about every two hours and we have very few accidents. But he absolutely does not show any signs he needs to go out- no wining, barking, acting anxious, getting my attention – nothing. And he will not go out by himself. Waits by the door instead of doing his business until I go with. Any ideas?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    use the search bar at the top of the page for teaching your dog to ring a bell

    [Reply]

  12. Sara Louise Hodgson says:

    My rescue tiny chi is in season and marking all round the place. Little dark puddles. She is now weeing clear large puddles all round the place. Could she have a urine infection? I feed her cooked mince and veg. Could it be too much protein affecting her kidneys?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    could be, both of these are questions for your vet

    [Reply]

  13. Fiona Manser says:

    Stellar information, as usual Minette!
    We used the Puddle and Pile app to remind us humans to take the dog out, as well as help notice his cues. Please look at it and tell me what you think.

    [Reply]

  14. Sharon Setzkorn says:

    I adopted a small blind dog about 8 years old and I am having trouble with her going in the house she doesn’t ask to go out, but, I take her out a lot, like I would a puppy. When she goes outside I praise her and tell her she’s a good dog, when she goes in the house I tell her she is a bad dog. Help I don’t know what to do.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Habits are hard to break. Focus on the praise and the good and getting her out. Let go of the “bad dog”. Make it your responsibility to watch her and get her outside or put her in a crate if you can’t watch her.

    [Reply]

  15. Caroline O. says:

    I had a Morkie that learned to go to the bathroom in the bathtub by just watching me pee in the toilet…she was very smart! I then put puppy pads in there and she adapted quickly. My current dog, a mini poodle mix uses the pads with a small orange play traffic cone from the dollar store (otherwise he lifts leg on nearest furniture) Still not 100% but I’m disabled and have trouble getting him outside at night (we also have problem with coyotes) I agree that the pads are confused with small rugs (don’t leave them out)

    [Reply]

  16. Joy Brewer says:

    This Potty Training issue is a wonderful relief to my hubby and I. We have a 6 month old Male Cockapoo. We started to train him indoors right from the start (January). The weather was super cold and being almost 70 years young,, it seemed to be the best thing to do. After a very short time we had him even ringing a bell to go out on our enclosed outdoor deck to get him used to outside. It worked well. Until we had 2 major snow storms. One good thing is that he loved the snow. But afterward would not use the deck again. As of now, we are back to the master bathroom using the pee pads. He uses them whenever he needs it (which is Not consistent) during the day. He DOES love to take walks. He will go pee outside like the males do but will not go poo. Inside he will go pee mostly like a female. I saw a couple times he went against the tub. Carline O. Has a good idea with the cone. He does aim well with the pads and a few times took one out (clean thank God) to be funny. We clean up after he does his business and don’t mind it at all. We just thought we were doing something unheard of and felt kinda weird. But it works for us and our Prince; and after reading from you and everyone else, I feel comfortable now. Thnx!!

    [Reply]

  17. Ellen says:

    I have a 78lb mix lab who is house trained. I then got a small poodle and it was apparent from the get go that it would be unfair to ask such a young and small bladder to hold it for the same amount of time. My dogs have open crates (more like dens) and I do not like the idea of lock crating. I set about creating a designated area inside for him to go when I’m not home. This generated some concern that it might undo the house training of my big guy. Much to my surprise – the little guy only took a day or two to understand what I was asking. He uses it when he ‘has’ to and never when I’m home and my big guy hasn’t shown any interest in joining in. I really don’t know what I did other than make sure they have enough opportunity to relieve themselves before I leave and when I get home. There have been no accidents anywhere else in the house. I find as time goes by and as he gets a older, he uses it less frequently and some days not at all. This one is all down to them. I really didn’t do anything.

    [Reply]

  18. Ritu says:

    My retriever puppy is 3 months old. I have a hectic work schedule and keep him with my next doors when I am not at home. My work timings are from 9:30 am to 9pm. I cannot take him out often which is why I am trying to train him to go to the bathroom and do his job. But he does not go there. Even if I lock him there , he waits till he is out of the bathroom and pees/potty in my bedroom, in one exact place where he keeps having his accidents. And he pees all over my house whenever he feels like. Even where he sleeps, he pees just next to it if required. I am tired and I really need help. Should I get a crate or puppy pads? How do I train him…HELP!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    wow that is a long time to leave a puppy of that age. He doesn’t pee in the room because he doesn’t want to have to deal with it so he is learning to go all over the house because he can get away from it. You are going to have a very difficult time potty training a puppy with those hours. That is WAY too long to leave a puppy in a crate and he needs supervision to learn. I would find a puppy sitter

    [Reply]

  19. Sandy McClay says:

    My dog uses a green patch that right now is in our laundry room, it gets changed every two days, and she tells us when she has pooped and we pick it up and flush it! So we just deal with the urine. I wash the grass pads in the washing machine with bleach and soap. I have four of them so I can rotate easily. Underneath the green we use potty pads. I would love to teach her to go in the bathtub in our master bedroom as no one uses the thing…but it is tall…maybe a ladder to get in and out like we use on our bed. ( no comments about her sleeping with us please) I don’t know. She is now 4 and yes, we have moved the pad around….

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/teach-dogs-pee-poop-bathtub/

    [Reply]

  20. Lynn says:

    Your article is excellent. When I first got my dog, a toy chihuahua, I knew I needed to train her to go potty inside. I got a kitty litter box and used scooping, clupping kitty litter. We clean the box at least once a day, but most of the time it is 2 or 3 times a day. She goes with me when I visit or house sit for friends or family. My sister’s dog Sassy is a outside dog. Now my dog will bark at the back door to go out. Sometimes I can not let her out, due to the wild life around us. She will look very disappointed, then goes to her potty box. This has worked very well for us. When we travel she is an outside dog and at home an inside dog. I wish I could just open the backdoor and let her out, but the birds carry off the cats all the time and she weighs less than most cats,
    3 1/2 pounds. I think having a potty box for a very small dog works well. We keep it in the family room next to the door. This way it makes us keep it clean plus we are always aware of where she is.

    [Reply]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *