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Are Puppy Potty Pads A Good Idea?

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 Pads

1. 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.


Sunday 20th of November 2022

I use potty pads because I’m old & my puppy is small. We have bad winters & I also have steps to take her outside so I feel it’s best to use them. This is the first time I’ve used them.

Keith Amdur

Wednesday 20th of June 2018

Pads are good for old dogs and sick dogs. The first year if you can not give your dog lots of your time (training etc),maybe you should hold off on getting a dog. Every person I know that uses pads are lazy.I wont tell them that but they are.I aint saying everybody that uses pads are lazy just the lazy people I know that use pads. My brother-in-law has a 1-1/2 year old dog that still is not potty trained. He takes the dog to peoples homes and brings pads with him. No I am not a big fan of the pads. Padsjust make training take longer by adding an extra step. Puppy pads are great for a bunch of other ways to use them.Painting, working on your car, bottom of the rat cage, ETC.


Thursday 15th of June 2017

My pup had to start life using pee pads. Things are ok now and she has the ok to go outside. I will walk her and sometimes she will go outside. But most of the time she waits and goes on her pad as soon as we come in. Would love for her to go outside. Suggestion will be appreciated.


Wednesday 26th of October 2016

I have a big problem with a puppy I got several weeks ago and who was trained (!) to do his business on these pads. I had dogs my entire life and all (!) of them were house trained after a max of 3 weeks. This one though refuses to go outside and prefers to pee on the carpet or in the dogbed. Whatever reminds him of the cloth pad he knows from the breeder. I really have to say that this a catastrophe! All my other puppies I got in the last 35 years basically refused to do their business inside - this one comes back inside after a walk of 30 minutes and pees right again on the carpet. So I put him into a crate with a towel - and again... After only 2 hours (he is 14 weeks old) the towels are wet. He is healthy, has no bladder infection, he was just trained the wrong way. And it is really starting to go on my nerves. And I do NOT think that all the other dogs I own or owned were "highly intelligent". They just got trained right from the beginning. How can a puppy seperate a pad from a carpet? He thinks my carpet is a "big pad" and this is a problem. Same with the dog bed. Never in my entire life have I had a puppy or an adult dog who was peeing at the place him or her was sleeping. NEVER EVER USE THESE PADS!

Pamela Robinson

Thursday 28th of July 2016

I have a mini Doxie and live alone out in the country. Coyotes are not uncommon. I also live in the Pacific Northwest where rain is the norm. Doxie's avoid the rain like the plaque and in the past I've had them hide to potty indoors rather than face the elements. This time with my third little girl I choose to pad train her rather than force her out, stand outside trying to protect her from wildlife, and keep myself safe. It's worked quite well...