Are Puppy Pads Bad for Training?

One of the most significant responsibilities of a puppy parent is to train their puppy well. Learning, for example, how to walk with a leash, go potty outside, use caution when biting, and many more are essential habits and behaviors every puppy must know (and every puppy parent must teach).

The good news is that various training tools and methods have been developed to help new puppy parents train their puppy. Treat-training, crate training, and other forms of training make the process easier, faster, and much less stressful for both the puppy and their parent.

I was thinking about this the other day while answering a question from one of my readers. She was stressed about the best way to train her new pup to go potty outside (especially since she failed miserably). She also asked me a question that I often hear about a puppy-training tool that’s become very popular in the last six decades, namely, puppy pads.  The question is; are puppy pads bad for training?

The answer is that some dog experts believe puppy pads are, indeed, bad when it comes to potty training a puppy, while some believe that they are pretty helpful. Indeed, there’s a raging debate about whether puppy pads are beneficial for potty training or if they’re a training tool that you should kick to the proverbial curve.

There are, to be sure, a variety of pros and cons on the subject of puppy pads, meaning that, yes, they do have some value. Whether the cons of puppy pads outweigh, that value is, frankly, up to the individual puppy parent. Some may find them very helpful, while others agree with their detractors.

In short, the consensus on whether puppy pads are bad for training is not 100% for or against them. If you’d like to see the pros and cons of puppy pee pads, how to use them, and, even better, how to use them in concert with outdoor potty training, read on. I’ve got the answers, info, and data you desire on puppy pads, below! 

Pros and Cons to Puppy Pee Pads 

As I mentioned earlier, there are pros and cons to using puppy pads for training your puppy. Frankly, some will argue that there are no pros to puppy pads, but as they’ve been available and popular since the 1970s, I’d have to disagree. Whatever your feelings about the subject, below are the notable pros and cons of using puppy pee pads for potty training:


  • While training your puppy, you’ll have fewer accidents and spend less time cleaning them up.
  • Puppy pee pads are absorbent to prevent urine from spreading on the floor.
  • You can clean up a puppy pee pad very quickly and, in most cases, with very little fuss or mess.
  • A large package of puppy pads can be purchased for a reasonable price, significantly lowering the cost per pad.
  • Most puppy pee pads have an odor-reducing agent that keeps the smell of puppy urine and feces odor low.
  • Puppy pads are easier and faster to clean than a litter box.
  • If you live in, for example, a small apartment in the city where going for a walk is challenging, puppy pee pads can be very convenient. 
  • You can purchase different sizes of puppy pads for different sizes of puppies.


  • Some puppies might not know the difference between their puppy pad and any other square, flat surface in your house like a rug, mat, etc. Because of that, they might end up going all over the house.
  • You take the risk that your dog may not ever become fully housebroken. (For many, this is the biggest con when it comes to puppy pee pads.)
  • The pee pad might end up becoming a ‘crutch’ that your puppy can’t do without. For example, you may need to bring a pee pad when you go for a walk or to the dog park. Without it, your puppy might not be able to do its business.
  • Some puppies like to play with their pee pads both before and after they use them, which can lead to a huge, gross mess.
  • Pee pads can make you a lazy puppy parent as they reduce the need to go for walks.
  • They slow the housebreaking process considerably, causing confusion, stress, and anxiety. 

Should You Use Puppy Pads at Night?

If you’re going to use puppy pads to housebreak your puppy, then yes, you should be using them at night. This is especially true if you’re not using a crate but instead have your puppy in a pen because puppies typically won’t go in their crate.

The thing is, to work well, a puppy needs to be able to use its pee pad at a moment’s notice. If they can’t because it’s not there, they will relieve themselves anywhere, and you’re back to square one. That’s also why your pup’s pee pad should be close to where they sleep, so they don’t have to make a trek to use it.

When should I stop using puppy pads at night?

It’s difficult to say exactly when you should take your puppy’s pee pad away at night. To help, below are a few signs that it’s probably a good time, including:

  • Your puppy can hold their bladder through the night.
  • When you wake in the morning, the pee pad is still dry.
  • Your puppy will go on command if you place them on their pee pad.
  • You come home to a dry pee pad all the time.

Should I put a puppy pad in the crate at night?

Dog experts highly recommend against putting a pee pad in your puppy’s crate at night. They point to pee pads being a chewing and choking hazard. Even worse, is that it teaches your puppy some terrible habits as, typically, dogs don’t poop and pee where they sleep.

In other words, you can use both pee pads and crates when potty training and housebreaking your puppy, but never at the same time. Indeed, placing a pee pad in their crate at any time is frowned upon by most dog experts.

How long should you leave puppy pads down?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. First, the size of your puppy. If, for example, you have a chihuahua puppy, you can likely leave down their puppy pee pad all day as Chihuahuas make only a few ounces of pee every day. (Their poop is also smaller and can be easily picked up rather than cleaning up the pee pad entirely.)

For larger puppies, it depends on how much urine and feces they make. They might make enough that you need to clean the pad after every use. On the other hand, you may be able to leave it down for an entire day. Again, it depends on the size of the puppy and the amount of pee and poop they make.

Final Thoughts 

Are puppy pads bad for training? I would argue that too, no, if used correctly and conscientiously, they aren’t bad for training at all. However, some might argue that they slowed the housebreaking process or prevent it from happening at all. Whatever side of the fence you happen to be on, the fact remains that puppy pee pads have been around since the seventies and have been used successfully by millions of people and their puppies.

Did you enjoy today’s blog about puppy pads IT training? I hope you did and that it answered the questions you had when you arrived. If you have more or would like to learn more about being the perfect puppy parent, please see my other blogs on the subject. They are filled with actionable, real-world information that can help you raise your precious puppy into a well-behaved, happy and healthy dog.