Q: What is your opinion on using “pee” pads to help potty train my puppy?
A: I have two opinions on pee pads actually. The short answer is, as a general rule, I don’t find them to be all that helpful in elimination training.
Usually, they only serve to teach your puppy that it is OK to go to eliminate inside your house, and unless you want him to do that, don’t start out teaching him that. Scolding for accidents then becomes very confusing to the pup and can turn the simple act of eliminating into a stressful thing for a dog.
So I generally discourage people from teaching their puppy to “go” inside. Potty pads can really backfire if you start out using them but are not diligent about your training. Then, through no fault of his own, really, the dog gets booted to “outside dog” status.
Potty training pads can, however, be helpful for people with small dogs who don’t go outside much, for dogs that live in apartments, dogs that spend a lot of time in the house alone while an owner is at work, and for senior citizens who may have difficulty getting outdoors quickly with a squirmy puppy.
Also, a pee pad (or newspaper) is appropriate to put in a kennel area if the pup is to be confined for more than a few hours. Most puppies can only hold their water for about three hours, so no puppy should be kenneled for longer than that without an exercise and potty break.
If you do decide that potty pads are the choice for you, introduce your puppy to it right away, and take her to it about every two hours, or 15-20 minutes after eating and drinking, until she gets the idea.
Give the “GO POTTY” command in your happy voice and praise desired results with lots of smiles, generous praise and a treat. An affirming, “GOOD PEE!” helps the pup associate the “word” with the “action,” and you are establishing a way to communicate with your new family member.
I frequently point out in my puppy classes that those of us with human children do the very same thing when our toddlers are learning to use the toilet. Positive reinforcement. Always a good thing.