Puppy potty pads – good or bad? When to use them?

I am not a fan of puppy pads or fake grass for dogs. At all.

This post is about some potential problems with puppy pads and some possible alternatives.

I realize tons of dog owners do use puppy pads already. The final part of this post includes examples of why people use them, regardless of what I think. We can’t all be the same, for crying out loud.

Problems with puppy potty pads and why puppy pads are a bad idea

Are puppy potty pads a good idea?

1. Puppy pads create housebreaking problems.
Puppy pads can create a few problems.

The goal of potty training a puppy is to get the puppy to go potty outside. Some people make the mistake of using puppy potty pads temporarily, as part of the “potty training.” Their goal is to transition the puppy from going potty indoors on the pads to going potty outside. This is similar to putting down newspapers for the puppy to pee on. While this can work, it creates an unnecessary step and potential confusion for the puppy. Why not just train the puppy to go potty outside right from the start?

2. Dogs don’t always pee right on the pads.

One of the problems with puppy potty pads is that sometimes the puppies miss the pads. Sometimes they go potty next to the pad. Sometimes some of the pee makes it onto the pad and some doesn’t. Some puppies eventually start lifting their legs, and therefore missing the pad. Some puppies eventually do the “squat and walk” while they pee as a form of marking (mostly females). Some dogs will walk as they poop (right, Ace?). Some dogs will kick their back legs after eliminating. Some dogs will begin to pee on rugs, pillows towels or anything that resembles the pee pad.

If your dog doesn’t do these things, then you’re in luck!

3. You have to train the dog to use the pee pads.

Some dog owners think their dogs will automatically know how to use the potty pads or dog grass pads. This is not true. You have to train the puppy to go potty on the pad, just as you would train the puppy to go potty outside.

4. Potty pads encourage the dog owner to be gone for too long.

I know how tempting it would be to stay out later or to work longer if I knew I didn’t have to come home to let my dog out. Ace stays home for a maximum of about six hours during the day (usually just 1 or 2, he’s spoiled). With the pee pads, I’m sure some owners stay away for 10+ hours when they wouldn’t have to. While I think people who work long hours can still provide good homes for dogs, I think the pee pads make it too easy to stay away. Do you agree?

5. Dog pee pads make it too easy to skip walking the dog.

Are puppy pee pads a bad idea?

While certain products or services are very convenient, they do tend to make us lazy. As an example, sometimes I use a Gentle Leader collar to walk my dog. This makes walking him much easier, which makes me less likely to work on his loose-leash walking skills. I can “check out” a bit, which is nice. Does this make me lazy at times? You bet it does! So, while I can see how these potty pads are convenient, I do know that most people are going to be less likely to get out and walk their dogs if they regularly use these products. Not every dog owner, but quite a few. That’s human nature.

What are some alternatives to puppy potty pads?

  • Using a kennel to potty train your dog
  • Keeping your dog on a regular feeding and walking schedule
  • Coming home during your lunchbreak to let you dog out
  • Hiring a dog walker (a professional or a trusted friend)
  • Taking the dog to daycare
  • Installing a doggy door to the yard
  • Installing an indoor/outdoor kennel to the garage

When to use puppy pee pads or fake grass pee pads

I do not recommend puppy potty pads, but some dog owners insist on using them. Here are some examples of when you might consider puppy potty pads.

Puppy Potty Pee Pads1. When potty training a puppy in a multi-level apartment.

If you have an eight-week-old puppy and you live on the 12th floor of an apartment, I can understand why potty training would be difficult. The puppy pads could help, but the goal should be to wean the puppy off those pads as soon as possible.

2. When you work long hours and can’t afford a dog walker.

Some dog owners work 14-hour shifts, and the puppy pee pads might be the best option. Hiring a dog walker is out of the question for some people due to cost or the dog’s aggression or whatever it might be. Dog daycare is also expensive and sometimes breed selective.

3. When your senior dog or sick dog is having trouble holding it.

I fostered an elderly, 80-pound Lab named Dora who had to be carried down the stairs. This was awkward for me and painful for her. She would try to avoid being lifted and would yelp in pain.

Luckily, I live on a ground floor and there are no stairs to get in or out. But what would I have done if I’d lived on a second floor apartment? I probably would’ve found her a different foster home, but I can’t expect dog owners to give up their elderly dogs for this reason. It’s also not possible for every one of them to move to a different unit because of their dogs. So what is best? Probably some sort of set up with the dog pee pads or indoor grass.

The reverse could also be true. Perhaps the human is the one who is sick or injured and just can’t take the dog out as often as needed. Indoor potty pads might be the best option.

4. When it’s too dangerous to walk your dog after dark.

This is a reality for some people. They just can’t be outside safely after dark. If that is the case, then pee pads or indoor grass for dogs to pee on might be the best option.

Puppy potty pads - good or bad?

Now I want to hear from you. What are your thoughts on puppy potty pads or fake indoor grass for dogs?

Good? Bad? Love’m? Hate’m? They’re here to stay, I think.