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Disposable housebreaking pads can be a valuable tool for training a new puppy while protecting your floors and carpet. Pads also can be used beyond the housebreaking phase if you want to create an indoor bathroom for your pup — an effective alternative for those with small dogs, limited mobility, or life in a high-rise building.
Choose the best training pad
Selecting the best training pad for your dog considers his size and your lifestyle. Most pads have a gel layer inside that captures urine and prevents moisture from leaking out onto your floor. Amazon's Choice for a good, basic pad is Amazon Basics Dog and Puppy Leak-proof 5-Layer Potty Training Pads with Quick-dry Surface which comes in regular and extra-large sizes. Choose a heavy-duty type of product if your dog urinates excessively or you will be gone for lengths of time that necessitate your dog using the pad repeatedly. These pads are available in packs of 25 to 150.
If you prefer reusable pads, Pet Parents Pawtect Pads Washable Dog Pee Pads are the way to go. They come in a two-pack, allowing you to keep one in your dog's potty area and have the spare ready to change it out once your dog uses it. Better yet, pick up two sets and keep one in your dog's crate or other areas where your dog might soil.
Basic pad housebreaking
Start the housebreaking process right away, taking your puppy to his pad every hour, 10 or 15 minutes after he eats or drinks or when he wakes from sleep. Issue a cue, so he'll come to associate the word with doing his business. Reward him with a special treat after he goes. If he doesn't go right away, keep him leashed or in his crate for 10 minutes or so and try again until he eliminates.
Pads to outside transition
If you eventually want to train your dog to go to the bathroom outside, it's best to start using puppy pads by the door so the pads eventually become a safety net rather than a regular elimination spot. Move the pad closer and closer to the door and eventually move it outside, making the transition complete. Only use the pads as a backup in the future -- for example, if you're going to be away for a lengthy period of time and don't think your pup can hold it or if you're traveling with your pet.
Creating an indoor potty
If you want your pup to eliminate primarily on training pads indefinitely, pick an out-of-the-way location in your home for his bathroom. An area with a hard surface is ideal, and you might consider placing plastic sheeting, heavy newspaper, or a commercial plastic training pad tray on the floor beneath to avoid leakage and damage. Keep in mind that male dogs will eventually lift their leg to urinate, so if you're creating a long-term elimination spot, you'll need a special box or corner space where you can add protective sheeting or wall coverings that will make cleanup and odor control easier.
Specially designed potty boxes such as the PetSafe Pet Loo Portable Indoor/Outdoor Dog Potty are available for sale on Amazon. With an astroturf mat and a receptacle for catching the urine, such systems offer a stable base and more attractive design than a plain puppy pad on your floor.
Puppy pad cleanup
Puppies like to chew on and shred many things, training pads included. Always replace soiled pads with fresh ones and treat the pads as you would any other objects you don't want your puppy destroying. If he starts to shred or chew, distract him with an appropriate plaything and consider using a pad to try to prevent the pad from being chewed in the future. Do not use repellent sprays or harsh commands to stop the shredding -- it may scare your pup away from the pads and lead to accidents. If your puppy eliminates elsewhere in the house, clean it thoroughly with an enzymatic to prevent the urge to remark spots.
Possible puppy pad fallout
Sometimes, using pads can present their own set of problems. For example, teaching a puppy to eliminate on a pad might lead her to mistake other surfaces that could resemble pads, like rugs or bathroom mats, for a place to pee. Fortunately, many of these issues are fairly easy to address, as long as you stay on top of maintenance.
If a pad becomes too soiled, urine may be able to leak through and onto carpeting or rugs underneath or can roll off the sides of the pad if your puppy pees too close to the edge. In this case, you can try placing the pad on top of a mat, like the All-Absorb Silicone Training Pad Holder. You can also try lining the floor under your pad with a garbage bag or other waterproof item.
Poop that's been left on the pad may also serve as a tempting treat to some puppies, who may indulge in eating it if it isn't cleaned up right away (or may simply walk through it, potentially trekking it throughout the house.) As mentioned above, doing your best to clean any messes right away will help keep your home and puppy clean, but if you don't see the spill until later, clean the area well with an enzyme cleaner, which can deter repeated soiling on the same area.
If your puppy is treating every soft, square, or rectangular-shaped piece of fabric in your home for a temporary bathroom, you could try using grass pads. These patches of grass intended for potty training indoors are reusable and easy to clean and teach your puppy that the grassy texture of the outdoors is what she should really be looking for. Pads like the PoochPads Indoor Dog Potty Replacement Grass make for a great transition from inside eliminating to the outdoors and can also be used on patios or balconies, perfect for big city puppies with several floors to descend on their way outside.