How to Potty Train your Puppy with Puppy Pads

Training your new puppy is a vital step in establishing your dominance and relationship with your new friend.  Realizing that there are no shortcuts when it comes to successful potty training and displaying patience and consistency are key in obtaining your desired results.

Let’s start with some misconceptions:

  • It is a good practice to reward your dog with treats when teaching advanced tricks such as roll over, shake, speak and others, however this method can have adverse effects when trying to teach the basics such as where to use the restroom, sit, laydown, and not to jump on people.  A lot of people try to use the treat method and then become frustrated when they realize that now their puppy is only performing these standard behaviors when bribed with a teat.  This is why you should only encourage standard behaviors with verbal praise, petting, and a pat on the head.
  • A surprising number of people use negative reinforcement when their pup is not performing as wanted – this is another example of a common bad practice.  Yelling at your puppy is not usually going to produce the desired results.  In fact, in many cases yelling will startle them into using the restroom right where they are.  They simply do not understand what you are yelling about.  A pop on the nose or on the rear is also a bad practice. These actions can create an aggressive dog, which you may not realize until it’s too late, as he or she will typically not be aggressive towards you but could potentially act hostile towards visitors.  Remember that while your puppy is young everything you do helps mold and create their personality.

So, what is the “right” way to train your puppy?  Well, first it is important to understand that every animal is unique and you cannot train them all the same way and expect the same results.  However, as long as you continue to practice patience and consistency you will quickly find that the desired results are right around the corner.  Always be ready to adapt your training method until you and your puppy have an understanding, as you’ll see your puppy wants to understand you just as much as you want them to.

So let’s start with crating.  This can be a touchy topic for some.  If you are not comfortable crating your pet that is completely understandable.  This method is not for everyone and not effective for every dog.  If you do choose to use the crating method, however, as long as you are crating your puppy in the proper fashion it is not inhumane and your puppy will even find it to be a safe and comfortable place.  The trick is to get a crate that has just enough room for your puppy to lie down comfortably while also being able to stand up and turn around easily.  If you get a crate that is to large your puppy may end up splitting the crate as a bathroom and a sleep area.  Once they have developed this habit it can be difficult to break.  After obtaining the right sized crate it is important to let them spend plenty of time in it in order to promote your puppy becoming comfortable using it.  After a few hours of being in the crate take them out and immediately to your puppy pad area or outside to your designated area.  Put them right in the desired location and let them stay there until they use the bathroom.  If they start to leave your designated area pick them back up and place them once again in the designated area.  If you have waited and waited to no avail and they still have not used the bathroom, you can then take them back to the crate and let them stay there for around twenty minutes or so.  Afterwards, repeat the same steps from above. This training process is all about maintaining consistency!

Once your puppy does use the bathroom in the correct location it is important to praise them.  Offer plenty of praise, petting, and patting.  Your puppy will of course enjoy this and want to understand how to get more of that reaction from you.   Let your puppy go play for a while before putting them back in the crate – Keep an eye on them and watch for “the signs” though!  A lot of puppies will do a “pee pee dance” before using the bathroom, which can often be them simply circling in one area repeatedly. You’ll quickly learn how to read your puppy’s signals.  When you see something like this, or start to pick up a different sign from your puppy, immediately pick them up and place them into the designated bathroom area.  Try to keep them in that area until they go potty.  If too much time goes by and they have not gone, simply return them to the crate for twenty minutes or so and then try again.

If your puppy has an accident outside of the designated potty training area it is important to try and address the issue as quickly as possible.  If you are not there right when it happens, however, then you have already missed your opportunity to reprimand the situation.  You puppy is not going to remember that they made that mess and not going to understand why you are upset, if they understand that you are upset at all.  If you catch them in the act make a loud buzz sound, firmly say no, or something similar that you are comfortable with.  This will be the same sound you will want to make anytime you are observing an undesired action.  Quickly pick them up and set them in the desired potty area.  Let them stay there even if they have already finished using the restroom.  After cleaning up the mess they made, putting the soiled paper towel into your designated potty area will leave a scent that can help the puppy understand that this is where it belongs.

Remember that puppies do not necessarily see colors or distinguish areas in the same way that we do.  If you are training to keep your puppy as an inside dog and want them to use puppy pads then it is important to try and make the designated area stand out as different than the rest of the house.  Most puppy training pads are made with a white top and blue backsheet.  The blue even comes in about an inch on top, making the pads very visible.  With the brightness of the pad this typically makes for an instantly visible area that sets apart from the rest of the house, especially in homes with wood or any other type of dark floor.  If you have light colored floors and are using pee pads you may need to get a little more inventive to make the area stand out to your puppy.  Try using a cardboard box and laying the pad at the bottom.  Make sure that the puppy has a way in.  You really only need the cardboard to stick up a couple inches around the pad so as to distinguish this spot as being different from the rest of the home.  Once your puppy is used to using that spot you can typically discard the cardboard.

So to recap:

  • Forget about training basic commands with treats
  • Do not yell or pop your puppy.  Instead simply make a buzz, or firmly say no.
  • If using a crate, make it just big enough for them to lay, stand up, and turn around
  • After crating always go straight to the potty area, if they do not go then return to crate and try again
  • If they make a mistake put the soiled paper towels in the potty area
  • Make sure the potty area stands out as different than the rest of the home and keep it in the same place
  • Use verbal positive reinforcement, petting, and patting every time your puppy performs the way you want them too
  • Save treats for advanced trick performance or simply for your puppy’s loyal companionship

We hope you have found this information helpful.  We want to know what you think.  Did we leave something out?  Did anything we recommend work for you?  Did anything we recommend not work?  Want to tell us about your puppy?  Please leave your feedback below or contact us at:

Thank you for your time, Team