Can Dogs Use Pee Pads Forever?

can dogs use pee pads forever

Dogs can use pee pads forever, but it’s not usually the best plan. Pee pads when compared with outdoor puppy potty training are less hygienic, smelly and limit your lifestyle. A dog that is never house trained can’t go visit your friends house, or come lay down on the floor in your local dog friendly restaurant. And this becomes even more of a challenge if you have a large breed.

Having your dog use pee pads forever is tempting. When I first potty trained one of my puppies, I genuinely considered using pee pads forever. My then ten week old puppy did so well with her playpen lined with pee pads at night, that moving on to night time potty training without accidents, and still getting a full night’s sleep, seemed an impossible dream.


Some apartment pets do use doggy versions of a litter box, or even spend a lifetime peeing on pads. But adult dogs will accidentally move pee pads around due to their weight. They are also often too big for the pee to be well contained within the padding. Pee left on the floor has a strong aroma if it’s not cleared up straight away, and poop is even stronger.

Can Dogs Use Pee Pads Forever?

Technically, dogs can use pee pads forever. And there are some setups I have seen personally where they are fairly successful.

Elderly dogs and those with incontinence issues post spay can have trouble lasting the night. Lining their sleeping area with pee pads minimises the mess, and helps to keep them cleaner and more comfortable. However this method isn’t suitable for most people long term.

can dogs use pee pads forever

Are Puppy Pee Pads Big Enough for Adult Dogs?

Puppy pee pads come in different sizes, and the extra large ones can be fairly big depending on the brand. Some can provide an adequate size to work for an adult dog, but you will need to use several at a time even with the most expansive pee pads.

I’ve used some that were nearly three feet in width, which is ideal if you are trying to cover a relatively large area or have a bigger breed dog. The difficulty isn’t just to do with the size of the dog though, it’s more about the slippage.

Securing Your Pads and Keeping a Clean Area

Although pee pads are designed to stay in place, when you have a large adult Labrador running across you with the zoomies even the most devoted pee pad is unlikely to hang in place. I’ve found even with smaller puppies that you get some movement overnight, and areas of the hard flooring that have a little bit of escaped pee or poop coverage. I avoid this by placing a heavy water bowl on the corner of the pads where they meet, but it doesn’t entirely eliminate the issue.

Puppy Pee Pad Smells and Hygiene

For me the biggest downside of pee pads is the cleaning up and lingering smells. If you are indoors and able to immediately clean up any mess, you probably don’t actually need pee pads. You are there, so you can be actively involved in potty training, letting the dog out the backdoor to pee or poop at regular intervals.

Most of us that use pee pad longer term do so out of necessity, and this means you are unlikely to clear up straight away. This means a high chance of a stinky odor greeting you when you arrive home, and that always awful risk of your dog stepping or laying in their own mess.

Are Some Dogs Impossible To Potty Train?

Some dogs that have medical issues are unable to hold their pee or even poop. Sometimes this is a minor inconvenience related to female physiology, other times it is a far bigger health issue. These dogs need managing alongside your veterinarian. And tough decisions have to be made regarding lifestyle changes vs quality of life.

However, no healthy puppy is impossible to potty train. Even those with smaller bladders can learn, they just need more regular trips outdoors. And the same can be said for our senior canine citizens. You can teach an old dog new tricks. Even if that trick is peeing outdoors!

My in laws brought home an adult Golden Retriever from the dog shelter about four years ago. At nearly ten years old she’d been kept in kennels her entire life and never had any training. She’d no concept of indoors vs outdoors, and peed happily wherever she happened to be hanging out.

However, even this lovely older girl was clean in the house within a few months of first arriving at their door. (And is still going strong at fourteen years old – bless her). Pee pads forever is a fine backup plan, but don’t discount training in the meantime.

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website