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Ok, it’s true. Dog potty pads: they’re not the most glamorous thing to have lying around. However, when it comes to training a puppy, many pet parents feel it’s a whole lot better than something else lying—er, puddling—around the home.
Welcome to your potty pad exposé. We’ve broken down the pros and cons of potty pads, which dogs (and pet parents) can most benefit from them, and which potty pads are the best on the market.
Potty Pad Pros and Cons
The pros for potty pads are obvious:
- They’re comfortable for dogs
- They make cleanup easy
- They’re convenient for potty training
- They’re good options for dogs who can’t go outside for health reasons
What about the cons? The most-cited problem with using potty pads is that dogs can get used to them. In other words, they might think it’s okay to go in the house, and they’re less likely to fully potty train.
The key to combatting this potty pad dependence is to wean your dog off their use. While potty pads are a helpful tool to jumpstart potty training, especially for pet parents who can’t be home all day, they’re not a long-term solution. Read on for more tips on how to approach potty pad training plus suggestions on essential supplies.
Which Potty Pad Is Best?
If you decide a potty pad is right for your dog, these brands are among the current market favorites. Generally speaking, there’s not a big difference amongst them unless they utilize a unique material, so the most important considerations will be the size (depending on breed), the price, and ultimately, your dog’s preferences.
- Quick drying surface to prevent tracking
- Holds up to 3 cups of liquid, and turns urine into a gel to prevent spills
- Neutralizes odors
- A very affordable option
- Available in a variety of sizes and styles, including grass and odor control
- Super-absorbent core with quick-drying top layer
- Attractant to draw dog
- Eco-friendly, green potty pad made with real grass
- Entirely disposable and doesn’t require cleaning
- Naturally absorbs urine and odors
- You can buy grass separately from tray
What You’ll Need to Get Started
Dogs will not automatically know to use the potty pad, so training is important—we’ve got your step-by-step guide below. In addition to potty pads themselves, you’ll want a few essential tools in your arsenal. Expect accidents, especially at first!
- Natural enzyme cleaner. Works like magic. BacOut and Nature’s Miracle are two of our favorites.
- Steam cleaner. Ideal for homes with carpet. The Rug Doctor is our favorite at the Rover office. Hoover makes this one that’s more affordable and also well-reviewed.
- Training treats
- Paper towels
All stocked up? Great! You’re ready to get your potty pad game on.
The Potty Pad Training Approach (with Video)
1. Keep your puppy on a leash with you during the potty training phase—ideally, in a space that’s his, whether it’s a kennel, a bed, or a pen. When he looks like he’s starting to think about relieving himself, say your word of choice (“potty” is a popular one), then quickly take him to the pad and let him do his business.
2. Success? Praise, praise, praise for a job well done with plenty of positive reinforcement.
3. Not so successful? Lay off the yelling and take him to the pad, instead. The goal here is to stay away from instilling fear in your dog, which might confuse him and make him think it’s OK to relieve himself in the wrong place—just as long as you’re not around.
4. Stick to a schedule. Most dogs eat twice a day: in the morning and in the evening. Set food out, wait 15 minutes, and regardless of how much or little he ate, take it away and let him out (or say the magic “potty?” word). The idea is to get on a potty schedule to make accidents less of an issue.
5. Teach the difference between the floor and the pad. When you’re not there to watch your puppy’s every move, keep your dog in a closed-off room, such as the bathroom or the laundry room, with food, water, toys, and bedding, and place potty pads across the entire floor. Do this for a few days, then take away one of the pads. In a few days, take away another one. The idea? To train Fido to prefer the pad over the floor.
6. Take regular trips to the potty pad every few hours, and simply wait for him to go. After eating, after naps, after playing—just go! Put him on a leash, give him some privacy, and praise him generously when he goes.
7. Practice makes perfect! The more you practice (repeating steps if necessary) and the more you reward positive behavior, the more likely you are to have a fully potty trained dog.
Who Gets a Potty Pad?
Indoor potty training is a lifesaver for small breeds—especially those who live in areas of the country with freezing weather, and those who live in high-rise apartments.
Potty pads are also great for dogs who are older, sick or disabled, for puppies who have yet to be vaccinated, and for owners who work long hours.
The Bottom Line
To recap, you’ll need:
- Potty pads of choice
- Enzyme cleaner
- For carpeted homes, a steam cleaner
- Plenty of treats
- More enzyme cleaner (truly, we love this stuff)
Remember: the potty pad is meant to be a step in the potty training journey, not the destination. it’s important to offer your dog exercise and daily walks. If you work long hours, enlist help from a trusted pet sitter or dog walker. Weaning your dog off the potty pad, and teaching her to go outside, is ultimately preferable.
Top image via Instagram