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ultimate guide puppy training pads

The Ultimate Guide to Puppy Training Pads: How to Use Them to House-Train Your Pup

Written by Steph McCulloch


Discover the ultimate guide to puppy training pads for small dog breeds. Learn tips, tricks, and find the best pads for your little pup's needs.
Puppy on training pad


Welcome to the world of puppy training pads. You’re probably here because you’ve just got a puppy and need a hand with toilet training, or you’re contemplating getting a puppy and want to know what it all involves (very sensible). 

Though getting your dog to go outside is the goal, puppy training pads can provide a gentle transition in successful toilet training. Puppy pads can be a great choice for those living in apartments or elderly owners who may find it difficult to keep taking their puppy outside to pee. 

Training pads can also provide benefits to those without a garden and whose puppy’s toilet area is public - ultimately limiting their exposure to the outside until they’re vaccinated.

So, if you’re looking for advice on how to house-train your pup using puppy training pads, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’re going to further discuss:

  • Understanding puppy training pads

  • How to use puppy training pads

  • Tips for successful puppy training pad usage

  • Common mistakes to avoid

  • Alternatives to puppy training pads

  • And a range of FAQs

Understanding puppy training pads

puppy pad on floor

Puppy training pads are moisture-absorbing sheets designed to be a safe space for your dog to go potty inside the home without ruining your hard floors, rugs, or carpets. Whilst they are designed for puppies, they can also help senior dogs and dogs who are left home for long periods of time, for example, during the workday.

Puppy training pads are most often disposable, however, there has been a surge of reusable and biodegradable pads entering the market in recent years providing an excellent option for pet parents who are looking for a more eco-friendly solution.

Puppy pads absorb urine into the spongy layers whilst keeping the liquid enclosed in a leak-proof top layer to avoid smells and spills. 

There are many different types of puppy training pads available from online pet stores to supermarkets, most including home delivery. The more expensive types often include a leak-proof liner to stop excess urine from leaking through to the floor. 

Others are branded as ‘super absorbent’ and turn liquid into a quick-drying gel. This quick-drying gel then helps the patch of urine to stay dry and prevents any tracking from your four-legged friend around the house.

In addition to this, some other puppy training pads have a natural scent (such as lavender) to keep odours under control which is definitely a factor to consider if you leave pads down whilst out of the house. 

Whilst some people avoid puppy pads due to fears it will enable ‘bad habits’, instead they offer a great helping hand to pups and seniors alike who perhaps aren’t experts at asking to go outside. The common misconception is that dogs will get used to using them and avoid going outside, however, this is where a toilet training regime comes in handy and will prevent such things from happening in the future.

How to use puppy training pads

Puppies on training pad inside cage

Using puppy training pads is pretty simple. Firstly, choose the pad that best suits your pup and your schedule. Will you need a more absorbent pad if you’re going to be away from home? Or would you prefer one with a scent?

Once decided and purchased, it’s time to introduce your puppy to their training pad. The best way to do this is to put your puppy on a lead. When you think they’re going to pee, walk them towards the training pad or pick them up and place them on top. 

Once your puppy has successfully peed on the mat, you should praise them and reaffirm that they’re doing a good job. Using phrases that include the words such as ‘wee’ or ‘pee’ can help them to understand more.

When they start to repeat the process in the same place, reward them with a little treat. The best way to get them to do this is to create a schedule. This means walking them to the mat every hour or every half an hour. These reminders will help them to understand that the mat is there to pee on.

Once your puppy starts to use the training pad on their own, continue to reward them with a high-value treat such as cheese or meat (or whatever their favourite is). 

To avoid bad smells and to encourage your puppy to use the mat, change it a few times during the day or every time you see that it looks used. Cleaning up puppy pads is simple and another benefit to using them as assistance in toilet training.

Though it can feel frustrating at times, remaining persistent is key. Your puppy will eventually begin to understand that puppy pads mean toilet time, it just takes a bit of patience!

Tips for successful puppy training pad usage

puppy looking up on pee pad

As mentioned above, setting a regular schedule for your puppy to use the mat can help them to understand toilet training a lot quicker. Using positive reinforcement will also encourage them to go and do their business on the mat because they’ll get rewarded for it. 

Though it can sometimes feel like a tiring process, you should always avoid any punishment or negative reinforcement as this can make your puppy feel unsettled and scared. It also means they’re more likely to pee in an unknown spot around the home in an attempt to hide it.

Once your puppy has got to grips with using a pad, it’s time to slowly decrease them. Most owners do this by moving the main pad their puppy uses closer and closer to the door and removing any others around the home.

To further help your puppy understand the link between peeing and outside, you should take them for outdoor potty trips regularly instead of encouraging them to pee on any training pads. Over time, your puppy should begin to associate peeing with the door and the outside world.

Every time your dog goes to the toilet outside, reward this behaviour with treats and vocal praise. 

We understand that puppy toilet training can be a tad stressful at times, which is why, if you’re a Waggel member, you can get access to free behaviour consultations from Junior at Heal the Dog.

If you’re concerned about your puppy’s health at any time, you can also speak to an online vet at any time of the day simply by downloading the Joii app and connecting to a vet. 

Common mistakes to avoid

Puppy sitting on training pad

Training a puppy to use pads isn’t always easy. However, we’ve listed the most common mistakes to help you avoid making them yourself.

Inconsistent use of puppy training pads

Inconsistent use of puppy training pads can lead to confusion and cause your puppy to pee away from pads and in other areas of your home. Ensure you lay out and replace pads regularly, even when you are reducing them.

Not cleaning up the puppy’s messes properly

Not cleaning up messes properly means that your puppy is likely to pee on the same patch again, even if there’s not a pad there. Dogs have a super sense of smell, so if they catch a whiff of something urine-related, there’s a high chance they’ll pee on top of it. Not good news for your floors.

Using punishment to deter bad behaviour

Negative punishment is associated with an increased risk of aggression and fear. It’s also not proven to result in any changes in your dog’s behaviour. If your dog misses the pad or pees on the floor, encourage them to try again. Remaining calm is the best way to produce positive results.

Waiting too long to decrease the use of puppy training pads

Though there isn’t a set time when you should stop using puppy pads, waiting too long can increase the chance of your puppy not recognising that peeing outdoors is the goal. As a rule of thumb, if your dog can hold their bladder through the night without accidents, they can generally do so until they go outside. When this happens, it might be time to say goodbye to puppy training pads entirely. 

Alternatives to puppy training pads

Using puppy training pads isn’t for everyone, we get it. Therefore, we’ve researched alternative methods such as…

Crate training

The most important thing to remember when crate training is that it is not punishment. Crate training can help with puppy toilet training as it encourages your pup to hold their bladder until they’re outside and away from their bed. Dogs have a natural nesting instinct and like us, don’t want to go to the toilet directly where they sleep.

Outdoor potty training

If you’ve got a garden or private outdoor space, this form of potty training could be best for your pup. It involves taking your puppy outside frequently, at least every hour or two, and also after they wake up, during playtime, after playtime, and after eating food and drinking. 

Grass litter boxes

Grass litter boxes are small boxes of grass used specifically to help your dog go to the bathroom. They’re most often used in apartments and in small spaces and act the same as cat litter trays. The grass on the boxes can be either artificial or living. Essentially, it mimics the outdoor world and encourages your dog to pee and poo.

Scented attractants

Scented attractants are toilet training spray products that help to guide your dog to the correct place to do their business. They can be used on training pads, grass boxes, or anywhere you consistently want your dog to go potty. The attractants give off an irresistible scent and encourage dogs to a certain area.


Can I use puppy training pads for adult dogs?

While puppy training pads were originally designed for puppies, they can also be used for older dogs who have trouble controlling their bladder or bowel movements due to ageing, health issues, or other factors. 

Using puppy training pads can be particularly helpful in situations where it is difficult to take the dog outside frequently or where the climate or environment is unpredictable. When choosing a puppy training pad for an adult dog, it is important to consider factors such as size, absorbency, and drainage to ensure maximum comfort and effectiveness.

How often should I change the puppy training pads?

It is recommended to change puppy training pads every few hours or after each use to maintain cleanliness and hygiene.

How long does it take to train a puppy to use training pads?

The time it takes to train a puppy to use training pads varies depending on the individual puppy, but it can take several weeks to a few months of consistent training. 

Can I train my puppy to use both training pads and go outside?

Yes, you can train your puppy to use both training pads and go outside, but it is important to maintain consistency and avoid confusing your puppy.

Can I use puppy training pads for larger breeds of dogs?

Yes, puppy training pads are available in different sizes to accommodate larger breeds of dogs.

Do I need to use a specific type of cleaner for cleaning up after my puppy on the training pads?

It is recommended to use an enzymatic cleaner with a paper towel specifically designed for pet messes to effectively remove odours and prevent your puppy from revisiting the same spot.

How do I discourage my puppy from chewing on the training pads?

To discourage your puppy from chewing on training pads and other items, provide appropriate chew toys and supervise your puppy during training sessions. If your puppy continues to chew, you may need to try a deterrent spray. 

What if my puppy refuses to use the training pads?

If your puppy refuses to use the training pads, it may be helpful to review your training methods and ensure consistency. Crate training can help here, if your puppy is refusing to use the pad, try putting them in their crate and trying again in 10-15 mins. You may also need to try a different type of pad or seek the advice of a professional dog trainer if nothing else is helping. If you’re a Waggel member, book a free consultation with Junior from Heal the Dog by logging into your account.


Toilet training a puppy can be hard work at times but with patience and perseverance, you’ll get the results you want. Puppy training pads are a great option to help your pup transition to peeing outside and can also strengthen your bond with your new pup as you reward them with positive reinforcement.

Before purchasing puppy training pads it’s important to do your research to find what pads are best for your pup - this means checking that they’re the right size and absorbency to suit the breed of your dog. 

Maintaining a routine will help your pup to pick up on cues and learn that the training pad is the place to go. Slowly decreasing the number of pads used and moving them closer to the door is also a great way to continue toilet training outside and helps them not to become too dependent on the training pad.

And finally, try your best to remain calm. Sure, toilet training can be messy at times but it’s all part of the ownership journey. Practising patience can help you and your puppy to develop a deeper bond and will most likely result in a shortened toilet training experience (win-win).

At Waggel, we understand that whilst getting a puppy is super exciting, you’ve probably already got a hundred questions about their diet, behaviour, and health. Fear not as our blog is here to provide all the answers to your burning questions. Here you’ll find advice on how to stop a puppy from bitinghow long you should walk a puppy, tips on teething toys, and everything you need to know about a grain-free diet

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