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How to Train Your Dog to Use Potty-Pads: 6 Easy Steps

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By Nicole Cosgrove

a puppy on absorbent diaper pad

There are several reasons you may need to train your dog to use a potty pad. Your dog might have an injury that makes going for walks difficult, or it might be too old. Living in the city and large apartment buildings can make walks difficult, and you might not always be home to take your dog out. Potty pads/pee pads can dramatically reduce accidents by providing your pet with a designated area to relieve themselves. Keep reading while providing you with a step-by-step guide to potty pad training, you’re your dog to avoid accidents.

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The 6 Steps to Train Your Dog to Use Potty-Pads

1. Choose a confinement area

Pick a room in your home where you will place the pee pads. Uncarpeted floors work the best, and we recommend using the bathroom since the floor is uncarpeted and there is usually fans built-in that can help reduce odor build-up. However, the area needs to be large enough to provide your pet with enough room to sleep and play for a short time while training. You will need to choose one place because it is difficult to train your dog to use multiple locations, and you risk confusing the dog and lengthening the time required to teach your pet.

Dog pee underpad
Image Credit: Pixel Shot, Shutterstock

2. Choose your puppy pee pads

Once you have your space chosen, you will need to pick a brand of puppy pee pads to use. There are many to choose from, and most will work fine, but we recommend getting the largest puppy pads you can find. There are several sizes, including 23 x 36, 28 x 34, and our favorite 36 x 36, that will be large enough for any mess.

3. Cover the floor with puppy pads

Once you have chosen your confinement area, cover the entire floor with puppy pads. Though the pads will move easily, you should not need to tape them down and only need to straighten them on occasion.

absorbent dog pad on the floor
Image Credit: Yuliya Alekseeva, Shutterstock

4. Limit your dog’s movements

You will only need to confine your dog to the confinement area when you can’t be with it. When you are available, you can leash the dog to keep it with you. Every two to three hours, take your dog for a “walk” to the designated confinement area and instruct it to do its business on the pad. If your pet uses the pad, give it plenty of praise and treats so it knows it behaved correctly.

5. Remove the pads

When your pet uses the pad, replace the one it used, but remove one of the others and continue the training. Walk your dog to the pads every two to three hours and confine them to the room when you can’t be there. Every time the dog uses a pad, replace it and remove one of the others until there is only one left. If your dog makes a mistake and goes on the floor, replace all of the pads and start over. Your dog will catch on before long.

Cute dog near underpad with wet spot on floor
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

6. One pad left

Once your pet begins to catch on, you can give it a little more freedom between bathroom visits but keep the walk and confinement routine until there is only one pad left. Once you are down to one pad without accidents, you can be pretty sure your pet knows what to do and can stop using the leash. It usually takes about two weeks to complete training, but every dog is different, and some may learn fast while others take a long time.

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  • Never show your pet that you are angry or upset when it has an accident.
  • If your pet has an accident, clean it up and use an enzyme cleaner that will destroy the organic material, so your pet doesn’t recognize the area as a place to relieve itself.
  • If your pet has an accident on the floor, soak up some of the urine with a paper towel and place it on the puppy pad to signal your pet to use that area.
  • Once your pet uses the pad on its own, you shouldn’t need to confine it further.

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Potty pad training your pet is surprisingly easy and should only take two to four weeks to complete. Most dogs are intelligent and will catch on quickly. We’ve had dogs choose a pad early on and never used the others as we remove them. Other dogs would know to use the pad and do so even if we moved it to another area. We had a few dogs take a while to catch on, and for those, we found the soiled paper towel on a pad trick extremely successful. We’ve had several dogs and were successful in training all of them, with only one dog continuing to go on the floor.

We hope you have enjoyed reading and picked up new tricks to try. If we have helped keep your home accident-free, please share this guide to potty pad training your dog in six quick steps on Facebook and Twitter.

Check out some of our other training posts:

Featured Image Credit: Tikhonova Yana, Shutterstock

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