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Why Pee Pads Are a Bad Idea

puppy and pee pads

I get tons of emails and phone calls from people desperate for someone to help teach their dog to get potty trained to go outside. It is such a problem that some owners report their dogs going poop on sofas, tables, and other furniture.

From experience of talking to hundreds of people on the phone, I already know that part of the problem is that the dog has been trained to go potty inside the house on pee pads.

I hear every excuse why they use pee pads and can't take their dog outside to be correctly potty trained to go in the grass. The only legitimate reason I have heard of using pee pads is from a disabled person who got a new puppy and was unable to physically take them outside.

TIP: Put your new puppy on a structured schedule using a crate from the very first day.

Let me explain my current situation to be perfectly fair with my opinion of pee pads. I got a new Mini Australian Shepherd puppy in early May 2020 when she was 10 weeks old and 4 lbs. The place I got her from gave me pee pads, and I immediately threw them in the trash. My new puppy, Dixie, peed in the apartment the first day and never even considered doing it again. She was potty trained in one day.

Initially, I had every reason to use pee pads, but I refused to teach Dixie to go potty inside the apartment. It was not easy, but it was well worth the effort. I live in a 5th-floor apartment, and here are the obstacles I had to overcome to properly potty train Dixie:

  • I had to teach her to walk on a leash

  • I had to take her out 10-12 times a day, often in the middle of the night, until she was about 14 weeks old. Now, at almost 5 months old, she still goes out 8-10 times a day.

  • I had to teach her to like using the elevator and stairs

  • I had to teach her to go potty on grass, not concrete or asphalt

  • I had to watch her every second she was inside the apartment

  • I had to crate her when I was away

  • I had to take her out in the pouring rain many times and clean her up afterward

The list goes on and on. My point is that potty training is not easy, I just went through it with my own puppy, so I am on the front line with you and not just passing on general advice. Now to the main point of this article.


Instead of rambling on further, here is my list of why pee pads are a terrible idea:

  • They teach the dog to go potty inside the house. Once your dog associates potty inside the house, changing that behavior to going outside is challenging.

  • They take away time you should be spending walking your dog, which builds your relationship with your dog and teaches manners and obedience if done correctly.

  • They allow you to leave the dog inside the house alone for extended periods when the dog should be getting out often to see the world, socialize, play, etc.

  • They can quickly confuse soft home surfaces such as rugs and carpets. Dogs will often miss the pads and go somewhere else in the house.

As you can see, there are a lot of cons to using pee pads. Instead of relying on pee pads, hire a dog walker to come over and take your dog out when you are at work. Drop your dog off at doggie daycare (when they are at least 16 weeks and have all shots).

It goes without saying that owning a new puppy is a lot of work, but the time and effort invested are worth the years of frustration you will experience if things are done correctly from the beginning.


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