Do Pee Pads Actually Encourage Your Dog to Potty Inside?

Introduction

Pee pads, also known as potty pads or puppy pads, are absorbent pads used to housetrain dogs and puppies. The pads provide a designated indoor area for dogs to urinate and defecate. A common question dog owners have is whether the pee pads actually attract dogs to use them. This article will examine the pros and cons of using pee pads for housetraining, how they work, if the attractants in some pee pad brands really attract dogs, proper use of pee pads, transitioning from pee pads to going potty outdoors, alternatives to pee pads, and provide a summary of the key points.

Pros of Pee Pads for Housetraining

One of the biggest advantages of using pee pads for housetraining puppies is the convenience they provide. Pee pads allow puppies to relieve themselves inside the home without damaging floors or carpets (Bondvet). This makes cleanup much easier compared to accidents on bare floors or carpets. Pee pads are especially useful for apartment dwellers and those without easy backyard access.

a puppy peeing on a pee pad indoors

Pee pads also aid the potty training process by attracting dogs to a designated indoor potty spot. Most pee pads contain an attractant that encourages puppies to use the pads (Preventive Vet). Having a consistent potty spot helps dogs learn where they should and shouldn’t go inside.

Additionally, pee pads give puppy owners more flexibility when they can’t constantly watch their puppy. The pads provide an appropriate place for puppies to “go” if they can’t immediately make it outside (Hartz). So pee pads provide essential convenience for housetraining puppies.

Cons of Pee Pads for Housetraining

While pee pads can be convenient, they also come with some downsides when used for housetraining puppies. One major con is that pee pads can delay successful outdoor potty training. Puppies who get accustomed to going potty inside on the pads may have a harder time understanding that they need to only go outside once you begin outdoor training. The pads allow them to keep going potty inside, which can be confusing. According to one source, “Puppies may like to chew and shred them instead of using them properly for their intended purpose.” https://www.rover.com/blog/potty-pad-expose/

Another disadvantage of pee pads is that puppies may start missing the pad as they get bigger and more mobile. The pads provide a designated potty area at first, but rambunctious puppies may begin wandering and no longer limiting their potties to the pad. This can mean more clean up for the owner as puddles end up elsewhere. The pads also require frequent changing, especially with young puppies who go potty often. Rotating and replacing many soiled pads daily can be inconvenient.

How Pee Pads Work

Pee pads are designed with multiple layers to absorb and contain liquid waste from dogs. The top layer is a waterproof film or coating that prevents urine from leaking through the pad onto the floor. Underneath is an absorbent middle layer made of cellulose, gel, or other super-absorbent materials that soak up the urine. This absorptive layer locks in moisture and odor. The bottom layer is an impermeable plastic that prevents urine from passing through to the floor.

Some pee pads also contain attractant sprays or scents that are designed to lure dogs to urinate on the pad. These attractants often contain pheromones or artificial marking scents that mimic the smell of urine, signaling to the dog that this is an appropriate potty area. The goal is to establish the pee pad as a designated bathroom spot indoors.

By providing an absorbent pad in a consistent location, pee pads give dogs a specific place to relieve themselves inside the home. The pads contain the mess and make clean up much easier for pet owners. With positive reinforcement training, puppies and dogs can learn to seek out the pee pad when they need to urinate or defecate. This allows them to “go” in the house without making a mess.

Source: https://pogis.com/blogs/news/what-are-dog-pee-pads-and-how-do-they-work

Do the Attractants Actually Attract Dogs?

Many pee pads contain synthetic pheromones or other attractants that are supposed to encourage dogs to use the pads. However, research on the effectiveness of these attractants is mixed.

One study published in the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association tested four common commercial pheromone-based attractants and found they did not increase the frequency or location of elimination behaviors in puppies compared to unscented pads (source). The study concluded that puppies do not need an elimination attractant to identify a pad as an appropriate substrate for elimination.

Some dog owners report that attractant sprays or powders help focus their dog’s elimination habits (source). However, dogs may be responding more to the strong scent rather than the specific claimed “attractants.” Dogs’ preferences can vary – some may prefer unscented pads.

While attractants in pee pads don’t hurt, they don’t provide a magic solution for housetraining dogs. More important is proper crate training, scheduling, supervision, and rewarding desired elimination habits.

Proper Use of Pee Pads

To use pee pads properly for housetraining dogs, there are some key things to keep in mind:

Placement

Place the pee pads in a designated potty area, away from food and water bowls. Pick an area with a hard floor that is easy to clean if there are any accidents. Place the pad in the same spot consistently so the dog learns where to go. Avoid moving the pad around or the dog may get confused.[1]

Consistent Use

Stick to a schedule and always take the dog to the pee pad spot using a verbal cue like “go potty.” Take the dog to the pad when they wake up, after eating or drinking, after playtime, and every 2 hours. Supervise the dog to prevent accidents elsewhere. Limit access if needed.

Praising

Immediately praise and reward with treats when the dog pees on the pad. This positive reinforcement helps them learn. Never punish accidents – just calmly clean up and make a mental note to be more vigilant about supervision and scheduling.

a dog owner giving a puppy a treat for peeing on the pad

Transitioning from Pee Pads to Outdoor Potty

Transitioning a puppy or dog from pee pads to going potty outdoors requires a gradual process with consistency and positive reinforcement. Here are some tips for making the transition:

Start by moving the pee pads closer to the door leading outside over a period of several weeks. This allows the dog to get used to going potty closer to the exit. According to Found Animals, “Make sure that your dog sees where his pad has been moved. If this is too drastic, you can start by slowly moving the pad progressively closer to the door.”

Once the pee pads are close to the door, start taking the dog outside frequently and rewarding with treats and praise when they go potty outside. As PetHelpful recommends, “To help your puppy, move the training pads gradually closer and closer to the door. Then move them outside right by the door, then closer and closer to the potty spot you want your dog to use.”

Remove the pee pads gradually over time as the dog gets accustomed to going outside. Be patient and consistent, continuing to reward outdoor potties. The key is a very gradual transition rather than an abrupt change. With time and positive reinforcement, the dog will learn that outside is the new place to go.

Alternatives to Pee Pads

While pee pads can be convenient, some dog owners prefer alternative potty training options. Here are a few popular pee pad alternatives:

Dog Litter Boxes: These contain pellets or artificial grass and mimic a cat litter box experience for dogs. They can be placed inside like a pee pad. Popular options are the PetSafe Pet Loo and Ugodog.

Artificial Grass Pads: These mimic a patch of grass and often have a tray underneath to collect urine. They provide a more natural experience for dogs. Some popular brands are Fresh Patch and DoggieLawn.

an artificial grass pad tray for dogs

Outdoor Training: For those with a backyard, training a dog to potty outdoors is ideal. This allows the dog to develop bladder control by waiting longer between potty breaks. Rewarding outdoor potties and ignoring indoor accidents can teach the desired behavior.

Dog owners should weigh the pros and cons of each option based on their lifestyle and dog’s needs. With patience, it’s possible to transition away from pee pads to a preferred potty training method.

Summary

To recap, pee pads can be a useful tool for housetraining puppies and dogs when used properly. The main advantages of pee pads are that they provide an indoor potty option and can help speed up the housetraining process. Some of the main disadvantages are that they can delay a dog learning to potty outdoors, and some dogs may develop a preference for peeing on soft surfaces indoors.

Pee pads contain an attractant that encourages dogs to use them as a bathroom spot. However, the attractants don’t actually “attract” dogs in the sense of pulling them towards the pads. Proper use of pee pads involves positive reinforcement and establishing a routine. It’s important to follow a gradual process to transition off pee pads and have the dog successfully potty outdoors instead.

While pee pads can be helpful for some owners, they do require effort and consistency to use effectively. Alternatives like crate training, doggy litter boxes, and outdoor potty training are also good options. Each dog and owner’s situation is different, so consider the pros and cons to determine if pee pads are the right choice for you.

References

This article was created based on research into housetraining puppies and dogs using pee pads. The following sources were consulted in creating this content:

  • ASPCA articles on housetraining puppies and pee pad training
  • Humane Society guide to housetraining
  • Veterinary advice on pee pads from PetMD
  • Product details and recommendations on pee pads from Chewy
  • Expert interviews with professional dog trainers on effective housetraining methods
  • a dog sniffing around pee pads on the floor

  • Scientific studies on dog behavior related to housetraining and scent preferences
  • Instructional videos by certified dog trainers demonstrating proper use of pee pads
  • Forums and discussions with pet owners sharing experiences with pee pad training

The goal was to synthesize advice from reputable sources to provide readers with a comprehensive look at the pros and cons of pee pads for housetraining.

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