Pee pads can have their time and place, for example if you bring a dog out onto a boat, or you are in a situation where you can absolutely not take a dog outside to relieve itself. However, if you are trying to housebreak a puppy over 7 weeks old or an adult dog, the use of pee pads inside the home can do more harm than their short term convenience.
When housebreaking a puppy you want to associate going to the bathroom with the great outdoors. Dirt, grass, sand, the smells of outside. When you put a puppy in a pen with a pee pad you are teaching that puppy that sometimes it is OK to pee inside a building.
A lot of dog owners use pee pads while they are at work all day. The idea behind it is, it is better for the dog to have more space while left alone for long periods of time than putting it inside a small crate. This is a common practice for owners of small dogs, as owners of toy size dogs are more likely to use pee pads than those who own large dogs.
It is true, knowing your puppy has more space to move and play is comforting and can be more comfortable for the dog, however, you will never fully housetrain the puppy if you allow it to be in a pen with a pad to pee on while you are not home. You will be teaching the puppy that sometimes it is OK to relieve itself inside. Some suggest placing the pee pad in a part of the house the puppy never goes in, so the puppy does not associate going to the bathroom with its general living area. But it will still be communicating to the dog that sometimes it can indeed go to the bathroom inside, instead of setting the rule and association to only peeing on grass, dirt, sand, aka the great outdoors. The message you send to your dog should be, outside is for relieving yourself, inside is not. Period. Allowing the dog to sometimes go inside and sometimes not is sending mixed messages. One cannot expect a dog to fully understand the difference between peeing on the pad in the laundry room and peeing inside the vets office where it smells the last dog who pee there. You will find the dog will be the type to relieve itself in random places. Inside the vet's office, pet friendly stores, when you visit someone else's house and possibly even in the car. Why?? Why not. How is it to know? It is allowed to sometimes pee inside houses. The dog will never fully understand the concept that it should only pee outside.
If your long term goal is to fully housetrain your dog, only peeing outdoors, it is wise to use a crate. If you must be gone for long periods of time take the dog for a nice walk in the morning before going to work, asking the dog to heel on the lead, teaching it manners to exercise its brain with both mental and physical exercise. When you ask the dog to walk into its crate before you leave for work the dog will sleep. A pack walk puts a dog in a natural rest mode.
Keep in mind that a puppy is not physically able to control the muscle that allows him to "hold it" until he is about 12 weeks of age. Before this time be sure to make arrangements to get the puppy out to do its business in reasonable intervals. Be fair to your dog. It cannot be expected to stay alone in its crate for endless hours and not relieve itself. Your dog is not a fish and he needs something to occupy its mind. Do not leave your puppy in a crate for hours on end. If you work this may require hiring outside help.
Have the person who comes to let it out during the day also take the dog for a pack walk, asking the dog to heel and practicing respect and good manners, not only exercising the dog's body, but its mind much like a working dog. Put the dog back into its natural rest mode before you ask it to walk back into its crate.
Keeping your untrained puppy or dog in an x-pen while you are gone with or without a pee pad, will hinder your housebreaking efforts. If you allow or even encourage the dog to go to the bathroom inside on a pee pad, accept the fact that the dog may never be fully housebroken. Using pee pads inside the home may be easier in the short term, but in the long term will be much harder when you have a dog who never fully understands the concept of only going to the bathroom outdoors. Taking the extra time to walk the dog before you leave for work, taking extra effort to calm the dogs mind during the walk, hiring outside help if needed, and using the crate while the dog is still being housetrained will pay off in the long term vs. having a dog that can never fully be trusted in the housebreaking department. Sending the dog mixed messages is unfair to the dog.
© Dog Breed Info Center® All Rights Reserved