How to Use Puppy Potty Training Pads

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.

Puppy Dog
A puppy lying on a potty training pad on a wood floor.
credit: BradyCramm/iStock/Getty Images

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 sleeping. Issue a command, so he’ll come to associate the word with doing his business. Praise him with a special treat when he goes. If he doesn’t go right away, keep him leashed, walk away and come back to the pad every few minutes 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 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.

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 play thing and issue a command like, “no chew.” If necessary, pick him up and remove him from the spot to end the behavior. Don’t 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 to prevent the urge to remark spots.