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Why does my dog miss the pee pad?

Without a doubt, pee pads can be a lifesaver, especially if you live in a high rise, have a schedule where you can’t always get home to give your dog a potty break, or your dog is older and has trouble getting outside to go.  However, pee pads don’t always have the effect you want, especially when, despite your best laid plan, your dog finds other, more “desirable” places in your home to her business. Alas, not to worry, all is not lost.

Picking a pee pad

Picking a pee pad that will work for your dog is the first step in figuring out why your dog is missing the pad and soiling your home. Pee pad choices and materials range from yesterday’s newspaper to paper towels to cloth towels to store bought pad options. Newspaper and paper towels are the cheapest choices, but also the messiest. Plus, pee can soak right through and damage the floor surfaces under them. Cloth towels are absorbent but need to be laundered after every use which negates the concept of convenience completely. In addition, your dog may be inclined to treat the towel as his favorite chew toy, which could be a disaster if he’s already soiled it. Although the most expensive choice, store bought pee pads make for easiest for cleanup and disposal.

Introducing your dog to the pee pad

The next step is finding a place in your home where you will always put the pee pad. Once you have done so, it’s time to introduce it to your dog. Start by putting pads in a small room, such as the bathroom, and completely cover the whole floor. As your dog learns and consistently uses the pad, you can gradually reduce it to just one or a few pads.

How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Missing Pee Pads?

When your dog keeps missing the pad, everyone is miserable, including your dog because she senses your displeasure. Here are some ways you can try to fix the problem.

Getting your dog to go on the pad

Training your dog to always go on the pee pad requires time and consistency. First, keep your dog leashed and close to you at all times which will enable you to “read” his potty-signals right away. One key sign is your dog will stop whatever he’s doing and start sniffing around with purpose. He may also whimper or bark. Prime pee times are after sleeping, eating, drinking, or playing. When you do recognize that he needs to go, as well as after any of these other activities, bring him to the pee pad and use a key word or phrase, such as “go potty,” or any short phrase of your choosing. 

Rewarding your dog

When your dog successfully uses the pee pad, be sure to praise him enthusiastically and reward him with a yummy treat immediately after the desired behavior. The more coveted and desirable the treat, the more your dog will come to associate it with doing his business on the pad. Go one step further and only give him this treat then. The more he associates this treat with peeing on the pad, the more eager he will be to keep using it to pee.  

Keeping your dog on a schedule

Keeping your dog on a consistent schedule for eating, playing and sleeping will make it easy for you to know when to bring your pup to the pee pad as well as for your dog to know when it’s time to go. By being consistent in your approach, your dog should eventually come to use the pad by himself.

Solving problems

Things don’t always happen as smoothly as we’d like, so if problems arise in your pee-pad training project, here are some things you can do to prevent accidents. Do keep the leash attached to her collar, even if you are not on the other end of it. The reason? The leash will at least give you a direction to follow when your pup wanders off and out of your sight. Some people even keep the leash attached to them! You can also use a crate to put your dog into for short naps if you are busy and can’t watch her. Crates are beneficial because they become your dog’s special place which she won’t want to soil.

Do Pee Pads Confuse Dogs?

The good points

Training your dog to a pee pad has many benefits. Number one is convenience: you get to pick the potty place in your home. Plus, it’s quicker than going down steps or elevator to get outside in time to prevent an accident.  Next, it’s relatively easy to clean up after your dog has done his business. Finally, the only weather you’ll have to deal with is the weather you see when you look out your window.

Mixed messages?

On the other hand, training a dog to use a pee pad can send mixed messages, especially to puppies and young dogs when you are also training them to go outside. Your dog will not know if he’s supposed to hold it until he goes outside, or to do his business on the pee pad, or where the pee pad has been if you move it. Also, if you train a puppy to the pee pad, she may never grasp the idea of going potty outside.

Can You Train a Dog to Use Pee Pads and Go Outside?

The process of training your pee-pad trained dog to go outside requires patience and diligence. Here are some steps to follow.

Going inside: Keep the pad in only one place all the time

If you usually put out more than one pee pad, reduce the number to just one, and you need to be committed to keeping it in just one spot. You may also want to block off some areas, so your dog doesn’t have full run of your home while the dual-potty place program is underway.  

Going outside: Find that right spot

Here’s where you will get your exercise. Take your dog outside frequently — after eating, sleeping, playing and when she shows sniffing, circling, pawing, or groin licking behaviors. Then, take your dog out in between as well. Your goal is to be sure to catch her doing something good — peeing! It’s important to find that special spot outside so your dog learns that it is her outdoor potty place. Try to find a quiet place, so your dog can focus on the business at hand and not be distracted.


Just like all dog training efforts, praise and reward are the true success producers. Do be sure to always have those extra special treats in your pocket when you are working with your dog.

Making it work

The dual-potty program takes a lot of time and requires consistent effort on your part to make it work. Being patient and positive are keys to success for you and your dog.

Using the bell

One thing you can try is to train your dog to use a bell. We did just that, and it was very successful in training our young pup to let us know she had to go out. Before she could use it to signal that she had to go, we had to teach her to associate the ringing with doing her business outside, which meant we first had to potty-train her to go outside. After she was trained to go outside, we physically placed her nose up to the bell until it rang. We were lucky as it only took several tries for her to get the idea, and then she became the bell-ringing queen. What was astounding was that when dog number two came along, we did not teach her to use the bell; rather, she picked it right up from her “sister” and began ringing it right away.