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How to Train an Old Dog to Pee on a Pad

If you want to know how to train an old dog to pee on a pad, you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we’ll walk you through every step of the training and provide valuable tips to help you get them on the pad in no time! 

how to train an old dog to pee on a pad

As your dogs advance in age, they might develop some health conditions and mobility issues that make it harder for them to pee outside like they used to, such as urinary tract infections. 

In that case, switching to a pee pad can make your cleanups much easier and relatively mess-free. 

You could have similar challenges if you’ve recently adopted an older dog or are moving to an apartment where an indoor pee pad is your only option after years of taking outdoor bathroom breaks. 

Therefore, if your dog is facing challenges getting outside in time, it’s a great idea to learn how to train an older dog to use potty pads indoors.

A Step-by-Step Tutorial on How to Train an Old Dog To Pee on a Pad 

Learning how to train an older dog to use potty pads can save you a lot of trouble and messy cleanups, especially if your senior dog has developed bladder control issues with time.

Ensure you use quality pee pads while training them and maintain a consistent schedule for successful training. Remember to use plenty of praise and rewards while training your dog! 

Man stroking his old dog

Learning how to train an older dog to use potty pads is possible, but it will require time and patience. After all, senior dogs are smarter than puppies and much better at understanding what you want. 

You’ll also have the experience to know how to deal with your dog when they’re being stubborn. Here’s the guide on how to potty pad train an older dog and encourage them to use an indoor potty pad.

1. Get the Right Pee Pad for Your Dog 

First, you’ll need a quality pee pad to initiate the training on how to train senior dog to pee on pad. There are plenty of options on the market, including disposable pee pads and washable (reusable) ones. 

The choice between those two depends on your personal preferences. But in both cases, you have to make sure that the pee pad has the following features: 

  • Fast Absorption: This is the most important feature to consider. Go for multilayered pee pads made from highly absorbent polymers. 
  • Durability: The pee pad should also be sturdy enough to withstand your dog’s weight without breaking or leaking. 
  • Odor Control: Premium pee pads come with a layer of odor-fixing materials like activated charcoal, which remarkably reduces the odor of urine.
  • Suitable Size: Pee pads come in a wide range of sizes, so you have to pick the one that suits your dog for comfortable use. For smaller breeds, you can go for a puppy pad. 
  • Anti-Slip Bottom: Pee pads, especially reusable ones, will have a rubber bottom that fortifies the pad and keeps it stable on the floor to reduce mess. 

2. Choose a Suitable Location to Place the Pad 

 The next step on how to train an older dog to use potty pads is choosing a suitable spot for the pee pad. At first, you’ll have to select a consistent location for the pad to establish the habit quicker.

Ideally, you’ll need a spot that isn’t a hassle to reach to provide easy access. The location should be reasonably private but still allow for monitoring and supervision.

The potty pad should also be in a place you can easily clean to prevent mess and bad odors.

In most cases, those requirements will apply to a room corner near the bathroom. Avoid using spots that are in the way and well used, such as hallways and corridors. 

3. Familiarize Your Dog with the Pee Pad 

Before using it, you’ll need to introduce your dog to the pee pad as part of how to train an old dog to pee on a pad. Simply allow your dog to check it out and give it a sniff, and you’re good to go. 

Make sure you put your dog on a leash while doing this step so they don’t wander around. 

If your dog already has a consistent potty break schedule, it’s usually best to take it there during that time, as this can make the training much smoother moving forward. 

4. Set Up a Consistent Schedule for Feeding 

One of the tricks on how to potty train an older dog is to make the process easier by setting up a consistent feeding schedule. This establishes a daily routine that you can use to predict your dog’s next potty break. 

Removing the bowl between feeding sessions is a good way to reinforce the routine.

Of course, this will depend on your dog’s general health and medication requirements, so you might need to consult the vet to make sure it’s safe to do it. 

5. Associate a Verbal Cue with Using the Pee Pad 

Choosing a suitable command word to prompt your dog to go to the bathroom on cue is also an essential step when learning how to train an older dog to use potty pads. Use phrases like ‘go potty,’ ‘potty time,’ ‘go pee,’ etc.

The word should be clear, and you must use a consistent phrase every time to avoid confusing your dog. 

Anticipating your dog’s pre-bathroom behaviors is essential to make this one work. Luckily, many dog parents can tell when their dogs are ready for potty breaks as they know their dogs’ various signs of readiness. 

These pre-potty behaviors include: 

  • Walking in circles 
  • Sniffing around 
  • Restlessness

If your dog’s bladder problems make it hard to predict their bathroom schedule, you’ll need to visit the pee pad once every hour.

Remember always to use the cue word clearly while going there to establish the link in your dog’s head. 

6. Reward Your Dog After Using the Pee Pad 

Rewarding your dog after using the pee pad is a crucial step in how to train senior dog to peed on pad. 

Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective methods in how to train an older dog to use potty pads, no matter how stubborn they can be.

Make sure you use a Positive reinforcement while commanding your dogs to keep them relaxed and excited while on the pee pad. 

Additionally, always have a bag of your dog’s favorite treats on you while taking them there to reward them after every successful session. 

Besides treats, you’ll also need to give your dogs a lot of verbal praise and keep your facial expressions happy when they do a good job to encourage them to maintain good behavior. 

7. Create a Daily Routine of Using the Pee Pad 

Establishing potty habits in the process of learning how to potty pad train an older dog may take some time, but it’s only a matter of consistency and repetition before your dog gets used to the new bathroom schedule. 

At first, you might need to visit the pee pad at least once an hour to avoid any accidents. Make sure you give your dog 2 to 3 minutes on the pad, as they might need some time to go. 

With time, you’ll become better at anticipating when your dog is ready to go, especially if you follow a consistent feeding schedule.

As such, your bathroom breaks will become less frequent but much more accurate. You should keep up this practice until your dog is in the habit of going once every 2 to 3 hours. 

Additionally, you should take your dog to the pad after any major activity, such as food, sleep, playtime, etc.

Essential Tips to Keep in Mind While Teaching How to Potty Pad Train an Older Dog 

Dog training process at home

Now that you know more about how to potty pad train an older dog, here are some important tips to consider during training:

Consistency and Patience Are Critical 

Consistency is one of the crucial keys to the success of any potty training, and this doesn’t only include timing and schedule but also verbal cues, high praises, treats, etc. This principle holds true when learning how to train an old dog to pee on a pad.

However, for senior dogs, you should also be extra patient. Be aware that older dogs already have an established routine, so they can have a hard time abandoning it. 

That said, no matter how stubborn a dog can be, they always want to make you happy, so they’ll eventually do what you want.

An important tip when learning how to potty pad train an older dog is to stay consistent and keep going if your dog takes longer to learn than they used to.

Avoid Negative Reinforcement While Training 

Always remember that older dogs have a much weaker bladder, so if they can’t hold it until the next bathroom break, it’s not because they’re misbehaving. 

When learning how to train an old dog to pee on a pad, you need to avoid punishing or scolding your dog if they pee elsewhere, as negative reinforcement will generate fear, making bladder control even harder. Therefore, you should always stick to positive reinforcement and encourage your dog using rewards and praises. 

Invest in a Decent Pee Pad 

Avoid going for low-quality options when buying a pee pad because they can be flimsy and unreliable. You may then need to switch to a better option, breaking the consistency of the training. Good pee pads also have pheromones that make your dog calmer, allowing them to go quickly. 

If your dog is used to going to the bathroom on grass, a good choice here would be a pee pad that looks like a fake grass patch.

Choosing something more familiar can dramatically speed up the training, as your dog will already be inclined to go potty on that pad, saving you a lot of time. 

When All Else Fails, Hire a Professional Trainer 

The process of learning how to potty pad train an older dog should typically take you anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.

Ideally, you should notice signs of successful training within the first week. However, the rate of success can vary from one dog to another. 

If you’ve been trying for the past few weeks and your dog can’t get it right, it might be time to call a professional dog trainer so that they can help you out. 

If all else fails, you could also use comfy dog diapers to limit the impact of accidents.

Careful What You Use for Cleaning 

Even the most trainable dog will have accidents every now and then. An essential tip in learning how to train an older dog to use potty pads is to ensure you use the right cleaning products while cleaning and disinfecting after your dog.

A good example here would be ammonia-based cleaners and disinfectants. While they’re effective, they also smell like pee, so they can trick your dog into going potty at the same spot again, making them a good option if you’re cleaning a reusable pee pad, but you must avoid these products while cleaning around the pad. 

Keep the Pee Pad’s Task Clear 

Your dog must understand that the pee pad has only one task. By reinforcing this, you eliminate confusion and make it much easier for them to use it properly within a short period of time. 

For instance, when learning how to train senior dog to pee on pad, it’s good to use treats for encouragement, but avoid bringing food there.

Some might suggest using a toy to entertain your dog while waiting on the pad. But unless it’s a comfort toy associated with peeing, you should keep toys and food away to avoid confusion. 

Pee Pads Shouldn’t Replace Outdoor Exercise 

Many people take their dogs outside for potty time and exercise. If you moved to a place where you now have to use the pee pad, you may not need to take your dog outside very often. 

Please remember, while learning how to train an old dog to pee on a pad, you still need to take them on a daily walk and give them proper exercise to maintain their health and wellbeing. 

Wrapping Up 

As you can see, even old dogs can learn new tricks if you’re consistent and patient enough. 

Just like with puppies, learning how to potty pad train an older dog will take a few weeks. Patience and consistency are key!

Once you’ve learned how to potty pad train an older dog, remember to always use positive reinforcement during training, and go for a decent-quality pee pad for extra comfort and reliability.

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