Dogs generally prefer to pee on whatever it is they first learn to pee on. Either they adapt to what you teach them or, left to their own devices, they'll choose their own special potty spot in the yard or along your walk route. However, if you're training your pooch to pee and poop indoors, you need to choose an appropriate potty material. Obviously, you need something absorbent and easy to clean.
If your dog relieves himself in the yard, designate an area and train him to use it by leading him directly there by leash during potty training. That way, you'll contain his urine and feces to one spot. He'll be fine going directly on grass or dirt. However, many male dogs -- and occasional females -- like to pee on vertical objects, as with the fire hydrant cliche. They use their urine to mark their territory with their scent; the reason they lift a leg and pee on a standing object is to get the scent closer to nose level for other animals. So, you could erect a small post for him to pee on in his "bathroom," though this is probably pointless if you have a female dog. He'll probably gravitate toward certain objects along your walk route if that's when he goes.
Inside, dogs are happy to pee on newspaper. It's a convenient way to reuse your stacks if you accumulate them, and the material's fairly absorbent and easy to clean up. Some dogs also like to shred newspaper, though, which can complicate things a little. Stay on top of cleanup and laying down new paper, because the paper becomes useless once it's saturated. There's also the risk of your dog sliding around on the newspapers or shifting them out of place and going directly on the floor.
Pee Pads and Turf
Your favorite pet store stocks different types of pee pads designed for use as an indoor potty. Features, efficacy and prices vary, so do some product research first. Dogs generally take to these materials just fine. These are quite absorbent and most are a cinch to clean. Pick up one with a lining underneath to ensure your floor is protected. Keep in mind these can be slippery on hard floors, though. Like newspaper, some of these end up shredded. Lots of dogs like to urinate on squares of artificial turf, too. They're easy for your dog to distinguish from your floor, and they're almost like going in the great outdoors.
If your dog starts tinkling on your floor lamp, bed, walls or other inappropriate items or places, it's not because he likes to pee on them. This is a behavioral or medical concern. Your dog may have been spurred on to start marking his territory or showing submission, perhaps because there's a new critter in the home. He may not be fully housebroken yet, he might be experiencing separation anxiety or other stress or he might just be drinking too much or getting too excited to control his bladder. Kidney or liver problems, urinary tract infections or stones, hormonal imbalances, diabetes, certain cancers, cognitive dysfunction and other health problems also sometimes cause loss of bladder control. Consult your vet if your dog is peeing in inappropriate places.
Eric Mohrman has been a freelance writer since 2007, focusing on travel, food and lifestyle stories. His creative writing is also widely published. He lives in Orlando, Florida.