A Beginner Guide to Potty Pad Training for Dogs

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Potty pad training is a technique used by many dog owners to ensure that their pets can relieve themselves in a designated indoor spot. This approach is especially handy for those living in high-rise apartments, during harsh weather conditions, or for puppies who are not yet vaccinated and cannot go outside. While most dogs that are sold online were already potty trained, it is still beneficial to owners and breeders to know the basics.

Benefits of Potty Pad Training

Convenience for Apartment Dwellers

Urbanisation has seen more people living in multi-story apartments and condos. For residents of high-rise buildings, the time and energy to descend several flights or wait for elevators multiple times a day for their dog’s needs can be taxing. Potty pads, strategically placed inside the home, can make these routine potty breaks swifter and more efficient, especially during late nights or very early mornings.

Health and Safety Precautions

Young puppies are susceptible to various diseases found in outdoor environments. Diseases like parvovirus are highly contagious and can have severe consequences for puppies. By keeping puppies indoors and using potty pads until they are fully vaccinated, you’re taking an extra precautionary step to safeguard their health.

Ideal for Elderly or Disabled Owners

Mobility challenges, whether due to age or disability, might make frequent outdoor trips strenuous or even impossible. Potty pad training ensures that such dog owners can still cater to their pet’s needs without risking their own well-being or safety.

Emergency Backup

Weather unpredictability, from heavy downpours to snowstorms, can sometimes make it dangerous or uncomfortable for dogs to go outside. Even in cases of personal emergencies or when feeling under the weather, having a dog trained to use the potty pad ensures they don’t have to hold in or become anxious about their natural needs.

Facilitates Travel and Transition

For families on the move or those who travel frequently with their pets, familiarising a dog with a potty pad can simplify transitions. Be it hotel rooms, visiting relatives, or even in transit locations, a potty pad gives a semblance of familiarity and routine, reducing potential stress for the dog.

Assists in Training Young Puppies

The bladder control in puppies isn’t fully developed. They need to relieve themselves more frequently than adult dogs. While outdoor training is vital, potty pads can act as a bridge in the early stages, ensuring fewer accidents and a smoother transition as they age.

When approached methodically and with patience, potty pad training can produce excellent results. This is an expanded guide to help you train your dog effectively to use a toilet pad.

Steps to Potty Pad Train Your Dog

1. Choose the perfect spot:

Stick to the location you choose for your pad. Consistency will help your dog remember and understand where to go. When choosing a location, it is important to consider the traffic, as most dogs won’t want to have to dodge foot traffic to get to their potty pad. Make sure the area is accessible for your dog, without too many obstacles.

2. Choose the Right Potty Pads

Choose pads with multiple layers of absorbent material to avoid leaks and mess. You may want to choose a larger or smaller pad depending on the size and breed of your dog. Some brands have different sizes.

Certain pads contain substances that neutralise smells. This can be useful for indoor use. Many pads are also infused with scents to attract dogs and make the training process easier.

3. Create a routine:

Dogs often have to relieve themselves, just like humans. Common times are after eating, playing, waking up and before bedtime. When your dog begins to circle, sniff around or show signs of restlessness it may be time for him/her to take a break.

4. Commands & Positive Reinforcement:

Use clear, specific phrases such as “go potty”, “do your own business” and so on. To ensure consistency, everyone who helps train the dog should use the same command. If your dog uses the pad to relieve themselves, praise them verbally, pet them, or give a small treat or reward. Positive reinforcement speeds up the learning process.

When your dog does not use the pad, or has an accident elsewhere, do not punish or yell at them. This can cause anxiety and prolong the training process.

5. Maintaining Hygiene

As soon as your dog uses the pad, you should clean it immediately. This will maintain hygiene and help prevent the odour of urine from lingering. Replace the potty pads on a regular basis, even if you don’t see any visible dirt. Long-term use of the pads can decrease their effectiveness, and make them less appealing to dogs.

6. Handling Mistakes:

If your dog is caught in the act of urinating outside the designated area then you should gently interrupt them without frightening them and guide them to the pad. All accidents that occur outside the pad need to be cleaned thoroughly. Enzymatic cleaners ensure that no residual smells are left behind, which may attract your dog to the same area.

7. Monitor for Consistency:

At first, it may be useful to keep track of the times your dog has used the pad. This will help you to anticipate their schedule and needs. At first, confine your dog with the pad to a small area. As they become more consistent, you can expand their territory.


It takes patience, consistency and an understanding of your dog’s behaviour and needs to train them to use a toilet pad. Every dog is different, so what works for one may not work for the next. Over time, if you are patient, flexible and positive, your dog will learn to adapt to the indoor solution.