How to Use Puppy Pads & Outdoor Potty Training Together

Instill good habits from the first day you bring your dog home.
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When you bring a new canine home, one of the first orders of business is house training, or teaching your puppy appropriate places to use the bathroom. If you work long hours, have health issues that prevent you from walking your dog, or live in a high-rise apartment, going outside regularly isn't always an option. It may be beneficial to simultaneously train your dog to eliminate outside and train him to use pee pads inside.

Set the Rules

Start establishing firm habits from Day 1. Choose specific places to be your outdoor puppy bathroom and your indoor puppy bathroom. Stay away from high-traffic areas or locations unsuitable for a potty area, like a frequently used bathroom, kitchen, children's room or living area. Pick a place you can live with long-term, as relocating your dog’s inside bathroom later can cause problems. Use commercial puppy pads or, alternatively, newspapers or even a cat litter box filled with sod. Alternate where you take your dog so he gets used to both spots.

Train Your Dog

After your dog wakes up from sleeping, and after he eats, drinks or chews for a long time, put him on his leash and take him to one of his designated bathroom spots, alternating between indoor and outdoor spaces. If he doesn't go within a few minutes, remove him from the space but keep him tethered to you, or supervise him closely to make sure he doesn't try to eliminate elsewhere. Repeat the process every few minutes until you have success, and lavish your pup with praise. Get into a habit of going through these steps every time you think your dog needs to go.

Positive Reinforcement

Use treats like doggie snacks as a reward when your dog uses one of his designated bathroom spots. This positive reinforcement will demonstrate that good things happen when he goes to the bathroom where he’s supposed to. It will also make potty time fast. Dogs, especially young puppies, often get distracted and want to play when they're supposed to be using the bathroom. Knowing they get a treat immediately after elimination will make them more likely to get down to business right away.

Be Mindful of Age

Very young puppies and older dogs have a difficult time controlling their bladders and bowels. The Humane Society of the United States says, on average, a puppy can hold its bladder for approximately one hour for every month old he is. During your initial training stages, create a schedule for feeding your dog and taking him to his designated bathroom areas. To help prevent accidents, place a piece of linoleum or plastic sheeting under the inside pee pad until your puppy gets used to going in one of his two designated spots and doesn't have accidents.

Things to Consider

While there are practical reasons for teaching your dog to eliminate both inside and outside, it can be more challenging than an outside-only housebreaking regimen. Be prepared for initial accidents and don't lose your patience. Rather, give positive rewards and stick to your plan, long-term. To maintain a nice-smelling household, change out pee pads on a regular basis so you don't have lingering odors. If your puppy has an accident elsewhere in the house, immediately clean it up and treat it with an enzyme-dissolving agent to ensure he doesn't consider the accident area his new bathroom.

Transitional Training

If your ultimate goal is to wean your pup from pee pads to full outdoor elimination, make a gradual transition. If your indoor bathroom area is located far away from a door, slowly move the pee pads closer to the door week by week. Do this until your pup reaches an age when he can be expected to hold his bladder and bowels for several hours, or when an adult dog is in a regular habit of using his designated spots. Eventually you'll move the pee pad right next to the door, and then outside the door to his outdoor elimination spot. You can then be done with the pee pads.