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Depending on your living situation, you may find that you can’t take your puppy, or even your full-grown dog, outdoors every time they need to pee. If this is the case, then you will need to train your puppy to use pee pads.
Maybe you have a small dog and no backyard, so it is not yet realistic to take them out every time they need to pee. Alternatively, perhaps you have a dog with health conditions, which means it is not realistic that they pee outside.
But this does not mean that you have to resign yourself to a house smelling of pee on occasion. Pee pads are designed to provide a limited, fixed area in the home where your dog can do their business.
They often use an attractant to make sure your dog knows that this is the place, and then they absorb pee and neutralize odors so you can clean up with as little fuss as possible.
But how exactly do you train your puppy to pee on a pee pad? Read on to find out. We’ll also share some of the reasons why dogs might need a pee pad as part of their toilet training and our top recommendations for the best pee pads you can buy today.
Why Use Pee Pads?
In an ideal world, your puppy or dog will do their business in the great outdoors, but this isn’t always realistic. Why?
Well, new puppies aren’t always ready to go outside and pee whenever they need to. What if, for example, you live in a fourth-floor apartment, and you have a little puppy with little legs and a little bladder?
Rushing them down the stairs and out onto the sidewalk every time you think they need to pee isn’t realistic, and it probably won’t be a very successful potty training technique, either.
Some smaller breeds, especially toy breeds, will always have small legs and small bladders, so they need to go to the bathroom frequently. Depending on your living situation, it may also not be realistic for them to go outside every time the urge strikes them.
Dogs of all sizes can also develop incontinence as they get older, meaning they can’t hold it for as long as they used to. So, while they used to have no problem holding it until you let them out in the morning, that’s no longer really possible.
It’s not only old age that can cause incontinence; a variety of health conditions can have the same impact on your dog, either temporarily or permanently.
It may be you rather than your dog that can’t face taking them out every time you need to go. If your own health concerns mean you both need to stay in the house, a pee pad can help make things easier on your and your dog.
Similarly, pee pads are also helpful if you have to leave your dog alone in the house for several hours at a time, during which they are very likely to need to pee.
Maybe there just aren’t good places for your dog to go near where you live, or maybe it gets so cold in winter that your dog can’t face the chill to do their business.
Whatever your reasons are, a pee pad can help keep your home clean and smelling fresh. It can also be important to your health, as it can help prevent the spread of bacteria that can be harmful to your health.
According to medical experts, roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms are common gastrointestinal parasites that shed eggs in dog feces. They can easily transmit between animals and humans and cause infections that result in vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, and lethargy.
Pee pads can also be beneficial to your dog’s behavior. If they are constantly being rebuked for peeing inside when there is really nothing that they can do about it, they can become confused, frustrated, and paranoid, and this can manifest in other negative behaviors.
Best Dog Pee Pads
The point of a pee pad is to clearly demarcate for your dog an appropriate place for them to do their business. You can use anything that is absorbent, such as towels, newspaper, and cloths, but there are also potty pads designed specifically for the task.
The key to choosing the right pee pad is one that is big enough for your dog and big enough to absorb what they are doing on it. Below are some of the best choices from Chewy.
Frisco is known for making basic and affordable dog items that work, and their pee pads are no exception. The pads are highly absorbent and made in a variety of sizes to suit different dog breeds.
They also have an effective in-built attractant that will help your dog to learn that this is where they should be doing their business.
The pads use fine layers of durable protection and a leak-proof plastic lining, plus a fast-drying quilted layer to protect against tracking when they are done.
This is another affordable range of pee pads that uses carbon-activated technology to neutralize odors and leave your home smelling fresh. It uses five layers of absorption and a leak-proof protected layer to ensure that your puppy’s pee always stays on the pad. A quilted layer on top also prevents tracking.
These pads have been shown to absorb up to three cups of water without any leakage, which is more than enough for most puppies as well as some adult dogs, too.
This is another set of pee pads that combine an attractant to help teach your dog where to pee and odor control so your house’s clean scent isn’t overwhelmed by pee when they do successfully do their business.
Again, there are five layers that provide leak-proof protection. It starts with a non-woven cloth, with the pee then flowing through to a tissue cloth layer that is infused with both the attractant and the odor neutralizer.
Then there is a super-absorbent core that turns to gel when it comes into contact with liquid. Finally, there is another layer of tissue paper and a waterproof bottom layer to prevent leakage.
If you prefer a more environmentally friendly washable option, then these pads are your top choice. The pads are made from a unique fabric blend that is designed to absorb and lock in liquids, and they are machine washable to reduce the carbon footprint of your and your pup.
The top layer is designed to prevent tracking and also to blend in like any other mat in your home – though you should probably warn visitors not to wipe their feet on the pads!
This is another reusable mat. It is good for your dog and good for the environment. It comes in a wide range of sizes to meet every dog’s needs.
These pads use an absorbent, leak-proof design to lock in both moisture and odors as needed. After your pup pees on the pads, you can wash them in your washing machine and easily reuse them.
If you are training your pup to go outdoors or they already like to do their business on the grass, this faux-grass pee pad from Frisco could be a great option.
Frisco’s Indoor Grass Potty pads layer top-quality faux grass over a tray system that will catch and trap the pee, and the grassy appearance will encourage your dog to use it. You can wash the whole thing with soap and warm water and use it again and again, which is better for the planet.
Dog Pee Pad Buyer’s Guide
When choosing the right pee pad for your dog, the main things to consider are the following:
Your dog’s pee pads should be big enough for your dog to feel like it is a comfortable place to pee and ensure there is no chance of them missing their target. If the pad is too small, you’ll end up with leaks, and if it’s too big, you’ll end up creating more work for yourself in terms of cleaning up.
While you could just lay down some newspaper for your dog to do their business, you’ll almost certainly find that some seeps through onto your floors, resulting in mess and odor that you don’t want. Your dog’s pee pads should have a leak-proof layer to ensure no pee touches the floors in your home.
Like cats, many dogs have a tendency to want to cover their business when they are done, so it is not uncommon for them to rub their feet over where they have just peed.
If they do that and then walk on the clean floor, they can track pee around the house. Good pee pads have an upper surface that traps the pee in and prevents unnecessary messes.
Often the first sign that your dog has peed in the house is the smell, which is rather unpleasant. If the pee is several hours old by the time you get to it, the smell can have permeated the air and hang around even when you have disposed of the absorbent pad.
Good pee pads use odor-killing technology that prevents odor from releasing into the air.
The whole point of pee pads is easy cleanup. Most pee pads are designed for you to either remove and dispose of the pads or wash and reuse them. You don’t really want to be sifting through waste as you would with cat litter.
The majority of pee pads that you see are disposable because they are meant for temporary use for learning puppies or sick dogs. However, if you need to use pee pads in the long term, you will find yourself creating a lot of waste.
In this case, it is important to look for environmentally friendly options. Many reusable pads are designed to be washed and reused over and over so they have less of a negative environmental impact.
Training Your Dog To Use An Indoor Potty
Training your dog to use an indoor potty is much like any other kind of training. It requires patience and a system that allows you to reward and reinforce positive behavior.
There are a few simple steps to introduce your dog to their potty.
First, keep them within a restricted space in your home and monitor their activity. When they seem like they are ready to use the potty, say “potty,” or whatever other training word you have selected, and place them in the potty pad.
Then keep them there until they have done their business. After this has been done with success, reward them with a treat. You can find our review of the best training treats here.
If you have a pretty good idea of their bathroom schedule, you should take your dog to their potty at around this time and wait for them to go. You can help get them on a more regular bathroom schedule by making sure you feed them regularly as well.
Additionally, don’t leave their food out; remove it after 15 minutes so they are eating on a consistent schedule. Don’t worry, they will quickly learn to eat their food while it is available.
Training your dog to use the potty should take about two weeks. However, accidents happen, and some dogs take longer than others. Make sure you never punish your pup for going in the wrong place; use positive reinforcement when they go in the right place, on the pee pads, instead.
Dogs struggle to associate punishment with what they have done wrong. Rather than learning that they shouldn’t go here, they may learn that they shouldn’t go when you are around, and you will find yourself encountering pee hidden in strange places around your home.
You can read our complete guide to house training dogs here.
Should You Train Your Puppy With A Pee Pad First?
Many people will tell you not to train your puppy with a pee pad first because it will make training them to go outside harder. There is some truth to this.
If your dog learns there is a designated place for them to go in the house, you may be creating extra hurdles for yourself when teaching them that they should only go outdoors.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean you will never fully house train them, but it can mean that it is a slower process in the long term.
Pee pads also present a chewing risk, which can undermine the waterproof, odor-catching nature of the pad. Your dog might also decide that the soft-designed pee pad looks like a nice place to rest.
The last thing you want is them lying down in their own pee and having it soak into their coat.
Whether or not you choose to use pee pads needs to be a strategic decision for your and your dog. But it is worth considering what you want your dog’s bathroom habit to be in the long term when making a decision.
FAQs About Pee Pad Training
Can dogs go to the bathroom indoors?
Dogs can be trained to go to the bathroom indoors, and there are a variety of indoor potty systems available that trap odors and facilitate easy clean-up.
How do you potty train a dog indoors?
Training your dog to use an indoor potty is just like any other type of training. It involves introducing your dog to the potty, showing them the desired behavior, and rewarding successful use to reinforce the behavior.
Never use punishment, as this will just confuse your dog and potentially encourage them to simply do their business when you are not watching them.
How often should you change pee pads?
Pads should be changed at least every 12 hours to prevent odors, leaks, and other contaminants.
Will a dog potty work for my large-breed dog?
Yes, large breed dogs can also be trained to go in the house using a potty. They will need a larger potty to accommodate their larger size, and you will also want to choose something highly absorbent, as they tend to have more to do than smaller dogs.
The Verdict On Pee Pads For Puppies
While it would be great if our puppy or dog could always wait to go out for a walk to do their business, this is not always possible. Teaching your dog to use a pee pad is an effective way to toilet train them inside the home.
Above all, keep these things in mind when training your dog to use pee pads:
- Use the most absorbent, durable, leak-proof, and odor-minimizing pads possible
- Make sure the pads are large enough for your dog’s size
- Consider reusable pads for a more environmentally-friendly (and inexpensive in the long run) option
Pee pads can be a stepping stone for puppies that aren’t yet ready to go outdoors, a short-term solution for sick pups, or even a long-term solution if your dog is unable to go outdoors for some reason.
While it is easy to train your dog to use pee pads, remember that once they know about them, they are unlikely to forget. As a result, it might take you a bit longer to fully house train your dog if you start them on pee pads, and they may always expect to have a place to go inside.
Do you have experience using pee pads with pups?
Share your thoughts with the community in the comments section below.
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