How to Train a Dog or Puppy to Pee and Poop Outside After Using Pee Pad (Early access for our Patreon community)

How to Train a Puppy or Dog to Pee Outside

How to train your dog to pee outside
Weaning puppy off pee pad

As a rule of thumb, I’m not usually pro-teaching dogs to use pee pads in the first place. Because what we’re doing is we’re teaching our dogs or puppies to go potty inside the house and we’re also teaching them to go potty on things. So, both of these behaviors can actually lead to trouble in the future. Of course, there are situations where puppy potty pads or dog litter boxes might be the best option for your dog. But again, just as a general guideline, if it’s not something you have to do, don’t do it, to begin with.

You can read my article on the best way to potty train your puppy here.

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Should You Use Puppy Potty Pads?

If you’re bringing home a puppy who’s already been taught how to use potty pads or a litter box, or if you’re working with a puppy, I would just go ahead and say, all right, no potty pads, let’s just go down to basic puppy potty training.

As with most behaviors, there’s not always a one-size-fits-all. Sometimes, this will work for that dog but that works better for another dog. So, I’m just going to offer some suggestions. Give them a whirl, and see what happens. Even an adult dog who’s been using potty pads successfully for years can transition to going outside. If you treat that adult dog like a puppy and go straight to my puppy potty training video, you’ll unlikely need to take the next steps.

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You can just toss out those potty pads and go straight to puppy management and lots of puppy potty breaks. But sometimes our adult dogs only want to potty on the potty pad or location, kind of like when we see a toilet. We immediately think that’s where I go to the bathroom. We might not want to go outside in the woods; we might need some extra encouragement if that’s the case.

Weaning and Adult Dog or Puppy off Pee Pad

So, if you have an older dog who’s been using potty pads for years, that intuition of that being their toilet might really be instilled in them. If that’s the case, then what I would do is take that potty pad and put it towards the door you want to use to take your dog outside. If your dog is struggling to find the potty pad that’s by the door, instead of putting it all the way to the door, go ahead and put it maybe 20 feet away from its original location in the direction of the door. So, if the potty pad is originally in the laundry room, then maybe just outside the laundry room door. Let him get comfortable going there. Once he’s successful going outside the laundry room, then move it 20 feet or so closer to the target door.

You’re gradually going to start placing that potty pad closer and closer to the door you want to use to take him potty. Then you’re going to get your second potty pad and take it to the spot outside where you’d like your dog to go potty.

Then, when your dog goes to use the potty pad, that’s your cue that your dog has to go outside. So, now, when your dog starts walking to the potty pad by the door, instead of letting him go potty on that pad, take him outside to the other pad. He’s going to think about that potty pad that’s by the door and head that way, and you’re going to attach his leash and take him outside to the new potty pad.

All this is likely going to take some time and very close supervision and management. It’s important to make sure that you’re very, very patient. And when your dog is pottying on the outside pad, tell him how smart he is. Give him a reward and, if he likes to sniff around, go ahead and let him go sniffy sniff afterward, so he’s getting lots of bonuses and rewards.

He goes potty on the potty pad outside, he gets a snack, then he gets to do a little sniffing. If your dog potties on the potty pad in the house, by all means, don’t reprimand him. That’s where he’s been taught to go to the bathroom, and we don’t want to have a dog who’s afraid to go to the bathroom in front of you, because that’s going to be a big key.

If you find that your dog’s nervous about going to the bathroom in front of you, then, use a long leash. That gives you the opportunity to allow your dog to go where he needs to go on that potty pad. But you’re 15, 20, 30 feet away so you’re not in his space. Because we also want to remember that when we’re potty training our dogs or puppies, we don’t want to reprimand them for going to the bathroom inside the house. Because what we can easily do is teach them that it’s scary to go to the bathroom in front of us. Instead, if your dog or puppy goes to the bathroom in a spot you would rather him not, just scoop him up, and take him to the spot you wanted him to go in.

Once your dog is starting to get the hang of it, and you’re starting to get some good potties outside on the potty pad, then you’re going to start shrinking those potty pads. If it’s 3′, and you’re having success, start cutting it down so that it’s 2′, then 1′ until, eventually, poof, it’s gone.

I would also recommend adding a potty cue. Meaning teaching your dog to pee and poo on cue. So, if I take Dexter outside and I tell him, “Dexter, go break.” That gets his little mind thinking, Oh, you know, I should go ahead and pee. And so, you’ll see him looking around, and a sniff or two, and then he’ll lift his leg and pee. If you want to learn how to teach your dog to potty on command, check it out here.

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Some final thoughts are, that you want to remember to be consistent and patient, especially if your dog’s been consistently pottying on potty pads for many years. Again, reacting like us seeing a toilet. That change is going to take time. Don’t get frustrated. Don’t get harsh. Don’t yell at your dog because that stress and anxiety will make things worse.

Your questions or comments are welcome below.

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How to Train a Dog or Puppy to Pee and Poop Outside After Using Pee Pad (Early access for our Patreon community)

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