How To Train Older Dog To Use Pee Pad

Someone recently contacted me and asked me how to train an older dog to use a pee pad.

Well, that was an interesting conversation. Look. Potty pads have their uses. If you live in an apartment complex and you don’t have access to a yard where you can take your dog every time it needs to go potty, then pee pads are essentials.

Here’s the thing, though – I don’t like potty pads. In fact, for most situations, I think they make it harder to potty train dogs and not nearly as effective as our go to potty training strategy.

However, if you have recently moved and found yourself in a situation where your adult dog needs to get adjusted to using pee pads, potty pads, or puppy pads, then we have a guide for you right below. First, though, here’s a quick little warning:

How to Get a Senior Dog to Use Pee Pads
  1. Always Schedule Enough Time to Train Your Dog. …
  2. Introduce your Pup to the Pee Pads for Older Dogs. …
  3. Set a Potty Area. …
  4. Practice the Routine with Pee Pads for Older Dogs. …
  5. Never Punish Your Dog for Any Accidents They Might Cause. …
  6. Use Only the Best Quality Pee Pads.

It’s true – I’ve said it, I’ve written about it, I HATE potty pads!

Most people go to the store and buy potty pads and think they are some kind of miracle. Place the potty pads in designated areas and sit back and let your puppy find them and use them.

Viola! He is now potty trained – but not really.

It is like potty pads are a license to give up on actual potty training.puppy potty training

The truth is, they are not a miracle. In most circumstances, they are detrimental to your potty training at best.

Teaching a dog or a puppy to go potty outside is WORK! It is your job to make sure your puppy gets outside right after he wakes, 20 minutes after he drinks or pees, after he exercises and about every two hours in the beginning.

It is your job to make sure he can’t wander off and throughout your house without being constantly accompanied or watched by you! It is your job to catch him in the act of having an accident, and calmly and kindly get him outside so that he can be conditioned to where he should relieve himself. 99% of dogs will have accidents in the house, it is our job as owners and partners to kindly (no beating, no rubbing of noses) catch them and teach them where to go.

It isn’t easy! If it was, no one would have problems and I wouldn’t get this question several times per week. After all, dogs aren’t born with our rules and social norms, they have no problem going potty in their space, until they are taught and given other options.

puppy trainingLet’s look at it from your puppy or dog’s standpoint…

You scatter these things all over the house, they have one or several attractive smells (like ammonia) and encourage your dog to use them to urinate and defecate.

At least in the “old days,” newspaper had a very unique and different smell and feel.

Nothing else in your house smells like or feels like newspaper, not your laundry, not your carpet, not your rugs, which is the big reason that newspapers often worked but potty pads create more of a problem than they are worth.

Either you want your dog to potty indoors, or you don’t!

When you have a puppy, encouraging or allowing both is confusing.

I mean, how does your puppy know that your intention is to actually have him going potty outdoors full time?dog training

It is especially confusing if you aren’t teaching him. I mean can you honestly say that you are taking him outside or to his indoor spot as often as he needs to go and you aren’t allowing him to wander alone?

In the beginning, I recommend that you either choose to potty train your dog for outdoors or indoors!

Once he is older and conditioned to the path that you have chosen (indoor or outdoor) THEN you can teach him another way!

That way, you can train your dog for one or the other and condition him. I have found in my years of dog training, that usually what a dog learns first becomes his default in times of stress. After all, teaching a human toddler potty training is difficult enough, imagine having different rules in different places!

dog pee padsFor your dog, it is often hard to distinguish a potty pad from your other things.

Think about it; potty pads are soft and plush and smell like ammonia. Carpet is also soft and plush. Bathroom rugs are also plush and soft and smell like our human (ammonia scent).

Human sweat and urine often smells like ammonia (even to us in some circumstances) now remember that your dog’s nose is thousands of times more powerful and sensitive than your own nose.

No wonder these dogs pull down towels, and pee on laundry and carpet; because of course by using ammonia scented potty pads we are, in fact, teaching him to do so!

Interesting thought, right? I mean, most people don’t realize how stinky we are (to our dogs) and how our own odor can increase the likelihood of our dogs using our things as a place to mark or put their own scent and relieve himself. Heck, he figures you did! We alleviate this when we teach our dog that outside is the only place to use to relieve himself.

A large majority of dogs end up in shelters because people either can’t or won’t potty train their dogs. After years of accidents, or new carpet or flooring people decide to get rid of their problem dog. Most of these discarded dogs never make it out of the shelter. After all, who wants a dog that they KNOW will soil their house?

And, the hard part is that bad habits or poor conditioning (a behavior that has become a habit) is hard to change! In reality, all of that can be avoided, if the people would just devote the time and effort it takes to potty train their dogs. Potty training is more about the person getting the dog out (or into an appropriate spot) and not allowing bad habits to form than it is about the puppy or dog.

Step 1: Train Your Dog to Go to the Bathroom on Command

Training dogs to go on command is helpful for puppies, senior dogs and every age in between, says Walker. “If you’re in an area with new noises or commotions (such as an airport), he might forget about going to the bathroom,” she says.

To do this, use a single, strong command before the dog goes, such as, “Go potty.” How will you know when your dog is about to go? For dogs that have already been through house training, use the command before he goes to the bathroom every time you take him for a walk or let him outside. For new puppy training, look for other cues and times of day—especially right after the dog has woken up, after he’s played a lot, or after he’s eaten, says Walker.

After you’ve used the command and he’s gone to the bathroom, heap on the praise!

Therein Lies Some Differences

But, therein lies the difference, we were dog trainers; we knew the importance of consistency!consistency in dog training

We knew there were no exceptions.

We could not allow the dog to have accidents in the house or give way to taking him outside (let’s admit I considered this several times).


Can older dogs be trained to use potty pads?

Training a Senior Dog to Go Inside: For a senior dog, you can use potty pads to teach him to use the bathroom inside instead of outside. This is particularly helpful for incontinent dogs.

Is it too late to potty train an old dog?

It’s Never Too Late to House Train an Adult Dog — Here’s How to Start. The first step in turning an adult dog into a reliable house pet is to embrace a key concept: There’s no such thing as a “partially” house-trained dog. He either is or he isn’t.

Why won’t my dog use the pee pad?

Not introducing your dog to the potty pad

Use your “go potty” phrase and keep them there until they use it. Make sure you take them to the pad immediately after eating, every 10-20 minutes after playing hard, and when they first wake up, and before they go into their crate at night.