Pros and Cons of Potty Pads (and other tips!)

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Just yesterday a client was asking me about a situation with her dog who had been trained by his previous owners to use potty pads. This client lived in a large one-story house and for years had been keeping potty pads in a few rooms to allow the dog (a small breed) to use the restroom as needed. The dog used the potty pads correctly and the mess was minimal, but the client complained of the occasional odor and of having to have urine and feces covered pads in her home when guests were present.

So the questions were asked – why have potty pads? Are they a good method? Can my dog ever transition off of potty pads? Is there a better product?

Potty pads do have uses. Many of our clients live in high-rise apartments which involves not only getting their dog out the door, but also taking an elevator ride and walking through a lobby before arriving outside and to an area where the dog can do his business. For these clients I might recommend some type of indoor potty product, especially for small dogs and puppies whose bladder may not be strong enough to hold it for very long. If your dog is sick or elderly, potty pads inside of their crate can help them stay clean as well.

However, overall, we do not recommend the use of potty pads. If you have a typical single family home your dog should easily be able to learn to go outside and to hold it while inside. Some clients with smaller dogs choose to put in a doggy door which can be a helpful method for those who work long hours. Generally, potty pads encourage using the restroom indoors and while you can untrain/retrain them at a future time, it is very hard to do so (old habits die hard). Odors and unsightly views are not necessary when you have access to a yard.

If your dog is already used to using potty pads and you’d like to transition to only going potty outdoors, consider slowly moving the potty pad closer to the door to the yard and then directly outside and onto the grass. When your dog is reliably going outside to potty, remove the pad.

There are a few other products on the market but one of our favorites is the “Fresh Patch” product which uses real grass – making the transition to going potty outside very easy.

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