Do Pee Pads Work for Older Dogs?

Training my older dog to use pee pads

You used pee pads to train your dog when they were a puppy, and you wonder how viable the pads are for your pet in their older years. I’ll explain ahead.

Do pee pads work for older dogs? Pee pads do indeed work for older dogs, especially those pups who are incontinent or slower at their age. Since it’s been a long time since your dog has used pee pads, you will have to train them to use them again.

In today’s article, I’ll discuss why pee pads are so suitable for older canines and go step-by-step on how to train your dog to use pee pads again. 

Why Pee Pads Work for Older Dogs

If all you have are adult dogs in the house, then you might have thought your days of using pee pads were long since over.

Yet as your dog reaches its golden years, there are lots of reasons to begin reincorporating pee pads into their daily routine again.

Your Dog Just Isn’t as Fast As They Used to Be

It used to be that the moment you held up your dog’s leash or even used the word “walk” casually in a sentence, your dog was on their feet, in front of you, barking, and tail wagging as if to say, “let’s go!”

Many, many years have passed since then, and your dog has celebrated quite a lot of birthdays. Thus, they don’t respond with the same exuberance.

It’s not that your dog doesn’t want to go on walks, just that they’re slower in their golden years just as we all get. 

Your dog could struggle to get out of bed, and long walks are also off the table.

Since your pup lacks the speed they once possessed, they’ve begun to have more accidents. 

Pee pads can help your dog get to a place that’s comfortable enough for them to use the bathroom without the rigors of having to get leashed up for a walk. 

Medical Conditions Might Make It Harder to Hold It In

Is your senior dog on a variety of medications to help with everyday pain and some medical conditions they might have been diagnosed with?

Between the medical conditions themselves and the medications, your dog might find it increasingly difficult to wait long to go to the bathroom.

When you add those considerations to the fact that senior dogs naturally have a weaker bladder as their urethra declines, you’re constantly cleaning up pee and poo all around the house.

Using pee pads will help your dog be able to go when the need strikes.  

Your Dog Could Be Pickier About Their Bathroom Environment in Old Age

Back in the day, your dog didn’t mind the sounds of street traffic, loud music blaring from someone’s car stereo, or other assorted outdoor sounds.

Fast-forward to the current day, and it seems like every little sound bothers them. 

This isn’t your imagination. Older dogs usually have a higher degree of noise sensitivity than younger dogs, despite that a senior dog might have hearing loss.

Your senior dog might go outside, get ready to pee or poo, then a large car turns down your street and interrupts them. 

Your dog waits for the noise to pass, tries again, and oh, there’s another sound.

You can see how you can easily spend upwards of an hour outside for what’s supposed be to be a routine pee break, right? You probably do not have that much time to spend outside with your dog on a regular basis.

By training your dog to go to the bathroom indoors on pee pads, this issue eliminates itself. 

Indoors is always quieter than outdoors, and you can control the noise levels better than you can outdoors, so your dog feels comfortable enough to go every time. 

Your Dog May Have Incontinence, Which Means Accidents Are Common 

You’ll recall that a dog’s bladder naturally weakens with age. Some dogs have an even harder time controlling their bladder if they are diagnosed with incontinence.

Urinary incontinence causes bladder control loss. You might be familiar with the medical condition because incontinence can affect people as well as canines.

Your dog doesn’t mean to have so many accidents, but they literally cannot help it. 

Pee pads are the best option for helping your dog use the bathroom on a surface they’re supposed to rather than your hard floors and carpeting. 

How to Train Your Older Dog to Use the Pee Pad

As I touched on in the intro, even if your dog learned to use pee pads long ago when they were just a wee one, it helps to train them at it again.

Let’s go over how to do it now.

Step 1 – Choose a Suitable Place for the Pee Pads

While you might consider laying out pee pads in many rooms of the house where accidents are frequent for the most effective use, you should set up a specific place that you want your dog to go from now on. 

This is just like how when your dog used to pee and poo outside, they had a favorite spot on the lawn for doing the deed.

One option you can try is to create an enclosure or a private area and place the pee pad there. For instance, maybe you use a cage or an appropriately-sized kennel.

You can even tuck the pee pad against a wall in a rarely-used area of the house.

Your dog needs privacy, so the adjacent walls should surround them enough that other dogs in the house as well as human family members can’t just stare at your dog when they’re using the pee pads.

This can make them feel self-conscious and awkward about going, so they might not use the pads at all.

Step 2 – Introduce Your Dog to the Pee Pad

You want to treat it like your dog has never used a pee pad. They very well might not remember their early years of training on the pads, so an introduction is in order.

Leash up your dog and bring them to the room with the pee pad. If your pup begins sniffing, verbally encourage them to continue.

You’re trying to get your dog to become familiar enough with the pee pad that they feel comfortable using it when the time comes. 

This will require more than one introduction, just so you know. 

Each period of your dog sniffing around the pee pad should last for a few minutes. Any longer than that and your pup may begin losing interest, which is fine.

Keep repeating the introductions several times per day every day. Within a few days, your dog will feel used to being around the pee pad.

Step 3 – Make Going to the Pee Pad a Routine

Now that your dog is familiar with the pee pad, you want to make its presence in your senior pup’s life an everyday part of the routine. 

You know how often your dog usually goes, so when it’s around that time, take them to the pee pad. 

You should also bring them to the pad if it’s been about 20 minutes since they’ve eaten or drank as well as first thing in the morning and right before you go to bed. 

In the beginning, sticking to the same time periods for using the pee pad is important, as this will reinforce habits. 

Step 4 – Use Verbal Commands

Now comes the part where you verbally instruct your dog to use the pee pads. 

After all, even if your senior pup has got to go, they might not know or remember how to use the pee pads at first.

Your command might be something like, “go pee” or “go poop.” 

You want to issue your command firmly but speak in a higher pitch. Don’t sound angry or consternated but upbeat and cheerful.

The goal is to get your senior dog to associate the pee pad positively, and sounding glum or frustrated won’t achieve that.

Don’t expect your dog to begin peeing on command the first time you issue the verbal prompt. It’s going to take repeated instances for them to finally do it.

Step 5 – Reward Your Dog

Your dog did what you wanted, so now it’s time for positive reinforcement.

You should verbally and physically praise your dog with lots of scratches and head pats. 

You can also offer them treats but try to limit the quantity and how often you do this. 

If your dog gets treats once a day, those training treats would count as their daily treats.

Step 6 – Repeat as Needed

You can teach an old dog new tricks, but it can take a while. Each day, keep repeating the same routine, and eventually, your dog will begin using the pee pads to make waste. 

Training Tips for Senior Dogs

To ensure that training your senior dog to use pee pads goes as smoothly as possible, here are a couple of additional tips for you to keep in mind. 

Choose a Pad Size That’s Correct for Your Dog

This first tip is ultra-important.

If your senior dog has a pee pad that’s too small for them, then even if they try to be accurate when they go, they might still make a mess on the floor.

That’s a lose-lose proposition for your dog, which might dissuade them from using the pee pad again.

It’s always better to have a pee pad that’s slightly too big than one that’s slightly too small! 

Be Extra Patient When Training a Senior Dog

Going back to what I said in the last section, you can indeed teach old dogs new tricks, but it isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t fast, either.

Although older dogs can usually concentrate better than puppies, they’re sensitive to loud noises and might have a hard time hearing.

Your work can be cut out for you.

You might have to speak in a louder voice when training your senior dog but remember that you don’t want to come across as aggressive at any point. Don’t yell – just project your voice. 

Never Limit a Dog’s Water Intake to Help Them Pee Less

Okay, so this last tip isn’t related to training, per se, but I have to include it because it’s crucial for you to know.

Some frustrated dog owners will reduce their senior pup’s water availability thinking that the less the dog drinks, the less they’ll have to pee.

Listen, I understand how frustrating it is to clean up accident after accident, but you should never deprive your dog of water.

Your “fixing” of the problem is only creating another.

Senior dogs are likelier to get dehydrated than younger dogs and must have access to a clean water supply at all times. 

Dehydration, if it’s serious enough, can be fatal! 

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