When housetraining a puppy, many owners begin using pee pads for bathroom business but eventually hope that their pooch can transition to taking it outside the house. If you’ve been having difficulty making the switch, then this blog’s for you. We’ll go over some tips to wean your pup off the pad and over to the great outdoors.
Not sure why you should ditch the pee pads? After all, they’re convenient, you don’t need to monitor your dog’s bathroom needs continually, and you can just throw them away after they’ve been soiled. Sure, the pads do provide a few benefits, but we believe they cause more harm than good in the long run of your dog’s life.
Many owners never get started with pee pads. They’re confusing to dogs. Dogs are incredibly intelligent, sure, but don’t mistake them for smaller, furry humans who talk to us through barks.
Dogs don’t understand why one area of your home is ok to use as a restroom, and another is not. Sure they can learn to use the pad but take that pad away, and they’ll go in the same spot without considering the effects on your floor or carpeting.
It’s just easier to train them to never use pads in the first place.
That said, many owners use them when their dogs are puppies or during colder months of the year. Also, if your dogs are elderly, disabled, or live in a tiny city apartment, using pads does have its advantages.
In any case, if you plan for your dog to eventually make the shift to going potty outside, then you’ll need to retrain them from their current habit to a new one.
This also means that your pup will need to up their “internal control” game and learn to hold it until someone’s around to take them on a walk.
When there’s a convenient pee pad available in the home, dogs can go at their leisure, and you take care of the mess later. Unless your home has an enclosed backyard and a doggie door, they need to wait until you’re able to give them the go-ahead.
That said, it’s possible to transition your dog off pads and to the outside world but be prepared to be patient and endure some accidents along the way.
You need to go slow and make it a step by step process. If you simply take away the pee pads, they’re likely to go in the same spot in your house the pee pad used to be. Yuck. Here’s a training process you can adapt for your dog that will slowly change their bathroom patterns and get them ready to relieve themselves outside reliably.
Step 1 - Moving The Pee Pad (Slowly)
We recommend that you slowly move your pee pad closer and closer to whatever door to the outside you plan on using for their walks.
This process could take several weeks, depending on how far away you’ve been keeping your pads.
Some of you may be face-palming right now because your pads are so far away. Please remember what we said about being patient!
Slow and steady wins this race and decreases the chances of accidents along the way.
When you move the pee pad, don’t be mean and do it in secret.
Let your dog know what’s going on. Let them see you pick it up and take it to the new spot. This will cut down on instances of accidents but by no means a guarantee. Dog’s are creatures of habit, and they will revert to their pattern without your guidance.
After each relocation is complete, pay attention to your dog’s behavior. If your puppy successfully uses the pad in the new location, offer them ample praise and treats to reinforce that behavior.
Step 2 - Taking It Outside
Ok, by now, your pad should be just outside your outside door, and you have no problems from ol’ doggo. The next move is the big one. It will take some finesse on your part. When you see your pup making their way over to the pee pad, quickly grab the leash and take them outside with you.
Once you’re outside, encourage them to take care of business. Your dog may be confused at first, but assuming they really did have to go, they’ll likely leave an “offering” or two. If your pup is successful, praise them again and let them know what a good boy or girl they are.
Continue this process as much as possible for several weeks before you finally remove the now obsolete pee pad. If you want to keep a few in the closet in case of guests, bad weather, or any other reason that prevents you from being able to walk your dog, go for it.
Try to get your dog into a potty break routine as quickly as possible and teach them to come to you when you approach with a leash in hand.
A Few Points To Keep In Mind
When you move the pee pad, be sure to disinfect the floor underneath it. Dogs have much more developed senses of smell than we do, and they’ll be able to pick up on the scent of urine long after the pad is gone.
They use urine to mark their territories and to remember a location for later usage. Using a bio-enzymatic formula will permanently remove urine and fecal odors and work to break your dog’s patterns.
Likewise, remove any floor mats or small rugs in the area while you are retraining your pup to potty outside. Rugs and floor mats are just too similar to pee pads, and they are at risk if there are any “bad days” in your training. Once your dog has the new system down, you can lay them back down.
You may want to block off their old pee pad spot completely. You can move some furniture on top or place a box or other item over the space as a deterrent.
If you do happen to catch an accident-in-progress, let your dog know they’ve done something wrong with a hand clap and a distinct “No” in a stern voice and take them outside to finish the job if possible.
There is no need to punish your dog harshly or overreact. Puppies will make mistakes, and you don’t want them to fear relieving themselves in front of you. It will just lead to them hiding their next accident. If your adult dog has had an accident, more than likely this is because they thought they were doing the right thing by looking for the peepad that we taught them was acceptable, or we just hadn’t taken them out soon enough.
If you’re late to the crime scene, then just clean it up and try to stop it from happening again. Again, don’t yell or seek to punish your dog. They won’t be able to tie your current anger with their past actions; that’s not how dog’s brains work.
What will happen is that it will teach them that whatever behavior they’re currently engaging in when you confront them can get them in trouble. It can seriously damage your relationship with your dog and cause them to become fearful or anxious around you.
It would be a colossal overreaction to what’s actually a small problem. Maybe all that was needed was a slight adjustment in your walk schedule to accommodate an additional bathroom break.
Please don’t get angry at your dog, don’t try to rub their nose in the mess. Remember, your dog won’t be able to connect your punishment with their earlier behavior.
Please do your best to supervise your dog and pick up on signs that they need to go out. Remember to praise them with affection and treats when they are successful.
If you and your pooch are struggling with too many accidents, then it’s not a bad idea to begin a close tracking of their bathroom habits.
There’s always a rhythm to what’s going on inside them. Write down your dog’s food and water intake and walk times, whether or not they have a bowel movement, and any accidents if they happen. Hopefully, after a week or two of data, you will be able to spot the trouble areas and make some adjustments in your walk schedule or dog’s diet.
In general, for every month of age, you can add an hour allowed between bathroom breaks up to twelve months. So a six-month-old puppy should be able to hold their bladder for six hours, all the way up to a year old puppy being able to wait a maximum of eight to ten hours, at the most. But these numbers are just guidelines, so please keep a close idea of your dog and learn what their limits are.
Consistency goes a long way when training puppies. Don’t underestimate it as a factor in preventing accidents. Keep your dog on a feeding schedule, don’t free feed and leave food out all day. Free feeding can lead to overeating and an increased need to use the potty, not to mention the behavior consequences this can add due to free feeding too
Your walks should be scheduled at times when your puppy has to go, right? Usually in the morning when you wake up, after mealtimes, and in the evening before bed.
Even if you don’t think they have to go to the bathroom, still take them through the walk routine at every scheduled interval. They may surprise you and save you from an accident later.
Remember to utilize your crate when you can’t actively supervise your dog. If you are actively working to form a positive relationship between your dog and their crate, this will cut down on accidents.
Dog’s genetically don’t like to do their business where they eat and sleep, so the crate will be your best friend during this period.
However, if the crate you’ve purchased is too big, your dog may turn a corner into a bathroom spot and then sleep on the other side. Crates should be large enough that they can turn around and comfortably lay down and stand up, but not large enough to romp around.
Please read our blog on the benefits of crate training and learn to choose the right crate for your puppy.
When you’re out on your potty walk, teach your dog a cue to help them get things moving. Repeat this phrase while you’re out and reward them after they finish. You can really choose anything you want for your potty cue, but “ go potty” or “do your business” are popular ones.
Stay outside with them until they go both number 1 and 2. While in the transitional process, some dogs will see the walk as exercise time and then go back to the pad when back inside due to old habits. Also, many pee pads contain products such as pheromones that encourage dogs to mark their territory on them.
Some owners threw dirt and grass on top of their pee pads when they first move them outside. It works to acclimate your dog to the smells commonly found outside and allows them to get used to it while still having the pee pad as a visual cue.
Stick to this process and take one step at a time. Have patience with your puppy, and don’t allow yourself to get frustrated. It’s normal for puppies to have accidents, and how you handle them can affect your relationship if not properly put into perspective. Your dog never acts to upset you purposely. They love and respect you and want to earn your praise and affection. Remember, 90% of potty training issues are due to our poor communication and training.
If you have any snags in your potty training process, please message us via the bubble below. You can also get in touch to schedule a training evaluation with our team.