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It makes a lot of sense to use puppy pads in the first phase of house training.

When your puppy is very small, her bladder control may be very weak, especially if you have a small or toy breed like a Chihuahua or a Yorkie.

It’s better for your puppy to relieve themselves on an approved pad indoors than to expect her to always make it outside – and cause her to have accidents instead. Using a pad is always better than having an accident.

But puppy pads require lots of clean-up. They cost money. As your puppy grows up, she’ll develop the control to wait until you’re able to take her outside.

Take the puppy pads away too soon, though, and you’ll take a step backwards in your training.

Signs It’s Time To Take Away The Puppy Pads

  • If there’s no pad available, your puppy will wait for you to put one down.
  • You take your puppy outside, but she waits until she’s inside to relieve herself. This means she’s already gotten the idea that inside=bathroom, but she has bladder control, so she’s ready to be retaught.
  • Your puppy goes through a full night (8 hours) without going potty.
  • You come home from work (or errands, or any time you leave your puppy alone) to a dry pad.
  • Your puppy is showing a preference for going outside.
  • You can put your puppy near the pad and say “go potties” and she will potty on command.

Signs It’s NOT Time To Take Away The Puppy Pads

  • Your puppy still relieves herself every 4 hours or less
  • Your puppy gets up at night (or barks to get out of her crate) to potty
  • You always come home to a wet pad
  • Your puppy is having accidents even though a pad is available

How To Transition From Puppy Pads To Outside

There’s no need to quit cold turkey, unless you’re out of pads and simply cannot (or refuse) to buy any more. While quitting “cold turkey” is definitely an option, it may lead to accidents. When your puppy goes potty on the floor, it reinforces a bad habit – when instead, you want to focus on replacing one good habit (using a pad) with another (going outside.)

It’s better to take the pads away for just an hour each day, at first. Watch your pup carefully for the hour. If she rushes to her usual pad area, or show signs of needing to go, take her out.

A pad-trained puppy is accustomed to relieving herself whenever she wants. She’ll need to learn to “hold it.” Using a crate teaches your puppy to hold it because most puppies will not pee or poop in close quarters, where they sleep. A crate is the best option if you’re dependant on using pads when you’re at work or in the nighttime.

For more information on transitioning from puppy pads, check out these tips.

Can You Use Puppy Pads With An Adult Dog?

I think pad-training a puppy is a great idea because most dogs never forget how to use them, even after years of going outside. That means you can use pads for long trips, travel, or if your dog is ever on restricted mobility due to sickness or injury.

You may live in an apartment and need to go down a flight of stairs or an elevator to get their dog outside. Or, you might not have access to a yard.

Puppy pads are handy for bad weather, too.

It’s important for an adult dog to be able to go outside. But there’s nothing wrong with using them for a healthy adult dog.

You can also try a dog litter-box or a Bark Potty for a more permanent solution.

Normally, dogs like going potty outside. They want to leave their scent mark, and there’s probably something more satisfying and natural about going in the grass or dirt.

Even a dog that uses pads should go on walks for the exercise and mental stimulation. If they need pads to be comfortable while you’re at work or asleep, that’s perfectly fine.

There’s no perfect age for quitting pads, every dog is different, and you’ll know what works best for your lifestyle.

Lindsay Pevny
Lindsay Pevny lives to help pet parents make the very best choices for their pets by providing actionable, science-based training and care tips and insightful pet product reviews.

She also uses her pet copywriting business to make sure the best pet products and services get found online through catchy copy and fun, informative blog posts. She also provides product description writing services for ecommerce companies.

As a dog mom to Matilda and Cow, she spends most of her days taking long walks and practicing new tricks, and most nights trying to make the best of a very modest portion of her bed.

You'll also find her baking bread and making homemade pizza, laughing, painting and shopping.