I started to write a blog about potty training in general, and quickly realized that was going to be just way too much for one post, so instead I'm going to focus on one common potty training culprit that lures too many unsuspecting owners astray: pee pads (or potty pads).
They seem like such a good idea, right? A nice, padded absorbent place for your puppy to do their business, which can then be quickly picked up and discarded! What could be better?
Almost anything, it turns out. Here's the problem - puppies develop what is called a "substrate preference" by about 9 weeks of age. In common language, this just means that they prefer to potty on the kind of surface that they've been going on up to that age. See, puppies aren't terribly aware of being inside or outside when it comes to pottying, but they're very aware of what they're standing on when they do.
And that's why pee pads are such a problem. Pee pads, being the soft, slightly cushion pads that they are, feel like a lot of things that we don't want puppies to pee on - rugs, blankets, bed sheets, couch upholstery, the list just goes on!
|Fake Grass Potty-Patch|
My recommendation, if you can't regularly get your dog outside when they need to potty, is to get a fake-grass potty patch to use indoors instead of pee pads. (There are also companies that will bring you a box of actual grass turf and replace it every couple of weeks for you if you prefer.) Grass makes for a wonderful surface to acclimate your puppy to, mainly because it doesn't feel like anything else.
|Real Grass Potty Patch|
As an aside, this is also why, when house-training, it is SUPER important to keep an eagle on your puppy at all times and catch any and all mistakes - because if you're sloppy at the beginning and let your puppy pee in observed on your floor too many times, your floor itself may become their "substrate preference," and now you've got an even more difficult job ahead of you!
None of this means that if you've used pee pads (or let your dog potty on your floor too often) that you're out of luck. It just means that you've got an extra challenge ahead of you in order to successfully house-training your puppy. And given that house-training is one of the most involved, longest processes in raising a puppy, wouldn't you like to take every shortcut you can?