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How to Train Your Dog to Use Pee Pads or Fake Grass Pads

It’s no secret I am NOT a fan of indoor pee pads for dogs.

I find they cause more potty training problems than they solve.

That being said, my opinion doesn’t always matter, so the next best thing is to help people train their dogs to use the pee pads properly.

Do you have any tips or advice? Please share. 

You’ll find my tips below.

First things first. Ask yourself, do you want your dog to use pee pads over the longterm or just for initial potty training? If you don’t want your adult dog using pee pads all his life, then it’s best to skip the pee pads all together and begin outdoor potty training from Day 1.

If you plan on using the pee pads longterm, here are my tips.

How to train your dog to use pee pads

Teach your dog to use pee pads

1. Choose one spot for the pee pads.

Don’t move them around. This is confusing for the dog, especially at first. Keeping the pads in the same spot will help your dog learn to pee in one area. I would choose a hard surface or put a tarp or newspaper under the pad. There are also pee pad tray holders you can buy. These will also keep the pads from slipping.

IRIS puppy and dog training pad holder

2. Don’t assume your dog knows what to do.

Even if someone told you your new dog is “pee pad trained” that doesn’t mean he’ll know what to do in your house. Keep him on a leash and bring him to the pee pad every 20 minutes or so if he’s a puppy and every hour or two if he’s an adult.

Puppy Potty Pee Pads

Praise and give him a treat immediately if he goes on the pads. “Yay!” If he doesn’t go potty, keep him on a leash and near you or in his kennel. Try taking him to the pads again in 30 minutes.

It helps to start out with multiple pads down at first to cover a larger area. Then you can decrease the surface area as your dog starts to understand what the pads are for.

3. Supervise.

Until your dog is 100 percent pee pad trained, keep him on a leash and near you at all times or put him in his kennel/crate. This will prevent him from wandering off and having “accidents.”

The more accidents you can prevent, the easier this will be. Use a kennel when you can’t supervise, and keep putting him in his kennel/crate for a good six months or so at night and when you’re not home.

4. Give your dog freedom only after he poops AND pees.

Once your dog has pooped and gone potty, that’s a good time to give him 20 or 30 minutes of freedom. As he gains your trust, you can increase this time, but remember puppies tend to go potty every 20 minutes or so!

If you give your dog freedom only after he’s peed, you can expect him to run around only to poop in a corner somewhere, so wait until he’s done “both his jobs.”

That’s really all there is to it!

Order puppy potty pads on Amazon here

It just takes a LOT of patience, time and consistency to get it right. You can’t just throw down some pee pads and expect your puppy or dog to know what to do. After six months or so, he should be pretty close to getting it right if not 100 percent trained.

Common mistakes when training a dog to use pee pads

1. Assuming the dog “gets” it.

Just because the dog pees on the pads once doesn’t mean he knows what to do or that he’s not supposed to pee on the floor. This takes a lot of time and consistency. If your dog pees somewhere other than the pad even once, then you know she is not ready for more freedom yet. Keep up with the basics for now (see above).

Dog pee pads

2. Moving the pee pads around too often.

This confuses the dog about where he’s supposed to go. Just keep the pads in the same area each time for now.

3. Not changing the pads often enough.

Yuck, who wants to step in their own pee?

4. Giving the dog too much freedom too quickly.

This is a patience game. I know it’s natural for people to feel bad about crating a dog or not giving her free reign, but think of it this way: Once she’s 100 percent potty trained she will have all kinds of freedom! This is only temporary to make life easier for HER and YOU. If she’s having accidents, she just doesn’t fully understand what to do yet. Restrict her freedom for now. It’s only for a few months.

Other tips for training a dog to use pee pads

  • Block off certain rooms – bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. Dogs tend to “wander” into these quieter rooms to relieve themselves. Don’t give them the opportunity.
  • Pick up all rugs, mats, clothes, towels, etc. for now. Don’t want to confuse your dog.

Let me know what other tips or questions you have

Just leave them in the comments below!

Related posts:

My dog pees next to the pee pad instead of on the pad

How to stop my dog from peeing in her kennel

My dog won’t pee in the yard

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Saturday 30th of December 2017

I adopted a 1.5 year old Yorkie mix pup and she was only puppy pad “trained” and refuses to go outside, except at the beach, her favorite spot! She was very neglected and didn’t even know how to walk on a leash. I have had her almost 5 months and she was great at going on the same spot at my old apt, but I moved and I knew there would be an adjustment period, but she continues to have accidents, even on my couch twice, which she had never done previously. I’m not sure what about the new apt is making her so confused. I bought a baby gate to block off an area but I’m worried about fully crating her b/c the only time she’s ever been crated was at the shelter she was given to by two different families. She has a good deal of separation anxiety as well. I’m working on getting her to go outside, but does anyone have any suggestions on how to retrain her? Or is it possible to crate a dog that has never been created without her thinking she’s being punished? Help please!

Dog Grass Pads - 10 Reasons Not to Buy -

Monday 3rd of April 2017

[…] See my post: How to train my dog to use pee pads. […]

Daniel ball

Sunday 15th of May 2016

We've got our dog and I'm having the issue where she poops on the pad when I'm home around 80% of the time and pees on it say 50% of the time but when my Mrs has her she pees and pops wherever she pleases, we've got a spray bottle which will stop her....if you get her in time. I take her outside and she pees everytime but then sometimes comes straight in and pees on the floor. Also pees a small amount when exited. We've been going at this for 3 weeks now. We got her from a bad home at 14 this a factor???? She also runs off from my Mrs but never from me????


Saturday 6th of February 2016

Hi. I am really in need of some help here with my dog. We walk Oscar twice every day, in the mornings and during the evenings. We still use pads for Oscar because he would relieve himself in the midnight before we wake up and take him out.

However, here lies the problem. Oscar used to urine properly and right on the pads but that was then. Now, he would pee at the edges or worse, sides of the pad holder. And every time after he does that, he would bark in the midnight to wake us up. Oscar is one year old now and I am at wit's end to ensure he pees at the right place. Every morning we have to clean up the mess which is quite troublesome.

We actually tried to potty train him before but he just wouldn't relieve himself on the pads and now that he goes outside to pee every day(and he only uses the pee pad in midnight), I think to potty train him during the day would not work out??

May I ask, are there any solutions or suggestions to this problem?? Thanks in advance for any suggestions! :)

Lindsay Stordahl

Saturday 6th of February 2016

I'd crate/kennel him at night and when you're not home. Take him out at midnight if he truly needs it.

Would that be an option for you?

Lindsay, Matilda Little Dog Tips

Friday 15th of January 2016

We still use pads for Matilda when it's cold or rainy outside, and I leave one down when she's left alone. Since she's so small, and we don't have a safe area for her to be loose outside, it makes sense for us.

It only took a few days for her to learn to use them as a pup. Puppies will go where they smell their own scent, so soaking up accidents with the pad and cleaning the rug with an enzyme pet cleaner really helped.

Dogs typically would prefer to go outside anyway, so it's not so hard to transition. I have a pretty good system: when she rings her potty bell to go outside, I sometimes put the pad down instead. I don't normally leave one on the floor, so she still has to communicate her need to get a pad.

For bigger dogs, it doesn't make as much sense because you get a huge mess as they grow up, so I'd prefer not to use pads with them at all.

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 15th of January 2016

That makes sense and it seems like it works well for her.