My Chihuahua pup had an addiction. It loves shredding paper. Pee pads, toilet paper, even notebooks aren’t safe from the little teeth. She found it very satisfying. That’s clear by the enthusiasm she showed when shredding a pee pad. Of course, I didn’t find it nearly as satisfying. The good news is that I trained her to stop eating pee pads, and you can train your dog to chew on more appropriate items.

Why does my dog eat pee pads?

It’s hard for us to understand. You would never go into the bathroom and start tearing your toilet paper, or begin chewing on the toilet. Why is it such a temptation for your dog?

Stress

Dogs experience stress just like we do. When your dog is stressed or anxious, they will find a way to calm down. They have several comforting behaviors. Some dogs will lick themselves, while others may become destructive. Eating pee pads can be a comfort behavior that dogs use to calm their anxiety. 

Hungry

Dogs, especially puppies, will try different things looking for nutrition. Some dogs will do this when their nutritional needs aren’t met, while other dogs will do it out of instinct even if they are well fed. 

Pica

If your dog is eating pee pads, instead of simply shredding them, they may have pica. A dog with pica craves and eats non-food items. Some dogs will eat only one item, while others eat many types of objects. 

Pica is a risk to your dog’s health, because they are ingesting items that aren’t designed to be eaten. This can cause poisoning, intestinal blockage, or stomach irritation depending on what they are eating. 

Pica can occur for a wide variety of reasons. Medical causes include diabetes, hormonal imbalance, and thyroid disease. It can also be caused by separation anxiety, stress, or simple boredom. 

Why does my dog tear up pee pads?

Your dog doesn’t seem interested in eating pee pads. They simply love to shred them. It’s a messy situation that can leave you feeling very frustrated, but knowing why they are doing it is the first step to stopping it. 

Bored

Dogs are similar to children in many ways. If they don’t have an appropriate way to entertain themselves, they will get into things they shouldn’t. Idle hands, or paws, can cause quite a bit of mischief. 

Dogs require mental and physical stimulation. When they get bored, they usually do things that their owners don’t appreciate, including tearing up pee pads. 

Instinct

Even the most domesticated dog has some of its hunting instincts intact. When you play tug of war with your dog, they will growl and shake their head. This is part of their instinct to tear apart their prey. 

This instinct can also cause them to tear up pee pads. The pee pads are soft and make fun tearing sounds. The experience is similar enough to tearing up prey to trigger the dog’s instincts. 

Fun

The texture of puppy pads and the sound when tearing them make it nearly irresistible to a dog, especially a puppy. It’s very satisfying and fun for them.

Operant conditioning is the method of positive reinforcement most owners use to train their dogs. This can occur anytime a dog engages in a behavior. If the experience is enjoyable, they will want to continue doing it. Just as getting a treat will cause your dog to want to follow your command, your dog will continue to tear pee pads as long as the experience is positive. 

Attention

Dogs are social animals. In the wild, they spend their lives in packs. Domestic dogs also have this social drive. They need attention to be mentally healthy. 

How much attention a dog requires will vary. Some dogs need lots of time, while others are content with an occasional play session. If your dog feels neglected, then it will seek your attention. 

Tearing up a pee pad certainly gets your attention, but it’s negative attention. To your dog, just like a child, no attention is often better than no attention at all. 

Lack of Toys/Chews

Dogs need mental stimulation as well as social interaction. They have a natural instinct to chew and play. If they don’t have items to chew, they will find something you don’t want them chewing. 

Pee pads are a tempting toy when there’s nothing else around to keep them occupied. Dogs can also get bored with their toys and treats. If you notice that they don’t play with their toys anymore, it’s time for new ones. 

Teething

Teething is uncomfortable for dogs just as it is for human babies. Just like their two-legged counterparts, puppies will chew on items to relieve the pain of teething. 

How do I get my dog to stop eating pee pads?

It can be difficult to get your dog to stop eating pee pads, because they find the experience enjoyable. The good news is that you can get your dog to stop chewing or eating pee pads with a little work and persistence. 

Chew Toys

Provide your dog with plenty of toys and chews. If your dog is bored, consider hidden treat toys. These allow you to put a treat into the toy. Your dog will have to work to get the treat, which provides them with fun entertainment. 

You can also rotate your dog’s toys. When they begin getting bored, swap a few toys. Put the old toys away and bring out new ones. Then repeat the process with the old toys when your dog begins to lose interest in the new ones. 

Physical Activity

Dogs need physical activity. If they don’t get enough exercise, they may become destructive in an attempt to release their pent-up energy. Walks and play sessions are a great way to keep your dog active and calm. 

Attention/Affection

Evaluate how much attention and affection your dog receives. Do they seem lonely? Do they get anxious or destructive when you are gone? They may need more attention. Try spending more time with them each day.

If you are gone for long stretches during the day, see if someone can walk them and play with them while you are out. You can also use a pet camera, which allows you to monitor and even talk to your dog when you are away. 

Leave it Command

The leave it command is useful for so many situations. Of course, this means you’ll have to keep an eye on them and catch them when they are about to tear into a pee pad. 

When you see them starting to tear up a pad, say “leave it” in a firm voice. When they drop the pad, praise them and give them a treat. Keep the process up until they stop tearing the pee pad. 

Redirection

Redirection is another effective training technique, particularly with puppies. When you see them starting to tear the pad, you direct them to another activity. This can be used alone or with the leave it command. 

Pee Pad Tray

You can purchase a pee pad tray. These trays are designed to prevent your dog from eating the pee pad. However, they aren’t always effective. The tray is only a temporary obstacle for a determined dog, and it may simply be another thing for your dog to chew on. 

Some owners have success with the trays. Whether it’s a good option for you depends on the temperament of your dog. Are they easily deterred, or does a challenge only make them more enthusiastic?

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t cover the blue sides of the pee pad. Dogs are color blind to the colors red and green. Red, green, orange, pink, and purple will all appear gray.  The blue area on the pee pad makes it easier for your dog to see, which can help them when using the pad. 

Tape/Adhesive

You can also use tape or adhesive instead of a tray. The simplest method is to use duct tape to attach the pee pad to the floor. Some pee pads have an adhesive backing, so they stick to the floor on their own. 

Just like the tray, these won’t stop a determined dog, but they may discourage some dogs from eating pee pads. Remember to keep the blue area visible. 

Vet Appointment

If you suspect that your dog has pica, you’ll need to visit the vet. They can check for physical causes of pica, and discuss training and behavioral options with you. 

Pinpoint Cause of Stress

If you suspect stress has your dog munching on pee pads, it’s helpful to pinpoint the cause. If you can determine what’s causing their stress, you can eliminate it, or at least minimize its effect. 

Common causes of stress for dogs include a new addition to the household, a change in schedule or routine, and a change in environment. Some dogs can also be stressed by loud noises, and require quiet time each day to unwind. 

Anti-Chew Spray

Anti-chew spray is great for ensuring your dog doesn’t eat your furniture or shoes. However, it may not be a great option for pee pads. Dogs will usually avoid items sprayed with chew spray. They are designed to taste bitter, which deters your dog from chewing on the item. However, they may also smell unpleasant to your dog’s highly sensitive nose. 

Obviously, you don’t want your dog to avoid the pee pad completely, just to stop chewing or eating them. Some owners use hot sauce, but again, the smell may repel your dog. 

Can dogs get sick from eating pee pads?

Yes, your dog can get sick from eating pee pads. The problem is that they contain absorbent material. The material absorbs water, expanding as it soaks up pee or other liquid. This is essentially how diapers work as well. 

This absorbent material will expand inside the dog’s stomach and intestine when ingested. This can cause an intestinal blockage which may have to be surgically removed if your dog eats a significant amount of the material. Diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, and lethargy are signs of gastrointestinal distress that should be evaluated by your vet. 

Pee pads also contain chemicals. Grass scent, pheromones, and ammonia are often applied to pee pads. These chemicals attract your dog to the pad, let them know they should potty there, and help prepare them for pottying outside. However, they can also be dangerous for your dog to ingest. 

Signs of poisoning include bleeding, lack of balance and coordination, stomach problems, and rapid breathing. If your dog begins showing these signs, get them to the vet as soon as possible. 

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.