Dog owners everywhere get the idea pushed at them now that puppy pads are the best way to toilet train their dog – but did you know there are alternatives?
One of the worst things about Puppy pads is that they’re disposable plastic backed pads that are not recyclable and definitely don’t help us be eco-friendly. But… what you might not consider is that wee-wee pads aren’t even the same or similar to the end product that your dog will be peeing on – i.e. grass! So it can create a barrier in training and make you repeat steps unnecessarily (and I’m not the only professional dog trainer saying this).
There must be a better way, right? Something that gives long term advantages to training and doesn’t inflate our carbon footprint.
[ Skip to Best Puppy Pad Alternatives ]
What is a Puppy pad?
Also called Puppy pee pads, wee wee pads, but essentially they are plastic backed, disposable pads that usually have sticky corners for popping into a holder or down onto a easy-clean floor. They’re designed to be highly absorbent materials and soak up all pee, and encourage your puppy to have a place they’re safe to go, and then you can just dispose of the waste! And they are the best option for dogs who are pre-vaccinated (if you’re worried about Parvovirus), or dogs who don’t have open access to outdoors when they may need to go (e.g. senior dogs).
Why Should I Use A Pad (Or Alternative) To Train My Puppy?
There’s plenty of reasons to choose pee pads, or their alternatives.
- Convenient in the middle of the night
- Convenient for apartments
- Convenient for young puppies
- Easy clean up
- Difficult to establish training differences (i.e. I can go inside but on this specific pad, but not on the rug)
- Potty pad processes don’t always facilitate the ultimate goal of going outside.
- Can be very wasteful
- Can be unhygienic
Considerations when choosing puppy pads
I will always say that one of the most important factors that’s massively underrated is the transferability of toilet training. Aka, if my puppy learns to go here, does this mimic something in my home, or is it going to result in more difficult toilet training when I want them to go outside, or, is it going to be a whole new process?
For me, as a professional dog trainer, I don’t use traditional puppy pads, and I don’t like encouraging them, if you can, I’ll always encourage you to go outside, but if you can’t? Then it’s a really fantastic idea to go for a potty pad alternative… just make sure it adds towards your ultimate goal of them going outside on grass… (hint, hint…)
Indoor/Balcony based Toilet options are also great for:
- Facilitating toilet training
- An older dog
- A midday potty break
- Emergency long hours*
*I don’t endorse this, but sometimes emergencies happen, and being prepared is a good thing.
Here’s my top picks, from a litter box to wood substitute mats! Now you just have to pick a great option for you and your set up (but I think I know which one it will be!).
Best Puppy Pad Alternatives
Best Alternative To Pee Pads
Fresh Patch XL (Real Grass)
The biggest issue with potty training onto pads is that you lose progress with training when you try and eliminate the pad and ask your dog to go outside.
With Fresh Patch? That’s not the case.
Because it uses real grass, we’re then teaching out puppies from step one (whether you’re on the 25th floor or the 1st), that the acceptable place to pee, is on grass.
So, when we eventually take that away? Hey presto… puppy knows they pee on grass and not the other places in your home. Think of this as your doggie lawn.
They last 2-4 weeks, and may need a little spritzing with water (but don’t water it!)
(This is also perfect for larger breed dogs!)
BrilliantPad Smart Indoor Dog Potty
This self cleaning puppy pad is probably the smartest piece of kit we’ve ever looked at here at Rebarkable. It’s got a camera, Wifi & an app so that you can monitor your dog, how often they’re ‘visiting’, and use it for your training.
The idea is that your puppy goes on the mat roll, and then the smart little pad detects it, and automatically rolls in the dirty (including solid waste!) and leaves only a clean roll behind it. Meaning that you should keep a cleaner home, and create less waste with the roll system (which are also compostable by the way!)
The big restriction here is that it’s only for dogs under 25lbs, so if you have an extra large dog, you’ll only get a few weeks out of it.
Porch Potty Premium
Likely the most versatile of the pet potties available. This artificial grass solution is self draining. It will water and rinse the pee out of itself, and it will either drain via a hose into a local drain, or into a pan that you can manually empty.
Sure, it doesn’t deal with the poop, but it does give a pretty-looking alternative to your regular puppy pad, and one that’s a lot less wasteful too!
It’s also one of the best options for larger dog breeds as it goes up to 120lbs.
Puppy Bark Potty Disposable Dog Potty – Multi-Use, Odor Neutralizing, Non-Leaking – Replaces Traditional Pee Pads – Indoor/Outdoor
Branded as a dog park in a box (very funny!), the Bark Potty is made of natural fibers and odor neutralizers, comes in a leakproof tray, and comes in two different sizes up to 30×20 inches, each one bragging that it lasts up to a month (Which good potty training should only need about a month!).
Then, where it uses only natural fibers of wood and similar, it does mean that the product will maximise transfer of training!
Like a lot of pads, you’ll have to clean up the number twos, but it does come with a roll of poo bags for ease too! It’s pretty clever really.
Petco Dog Litter Pan Box, Large
Using this with doggy litter can make a good alternative and less wasteful option than a puppy pad, they’re also usually quicker to train given the paper pellets are more ‘fluffy’ than a puppy pad, and can create a spot where your dog will happily go to the bathroom.
PetSafe Pet Loo
Petsafe are a brand I trust, and they’ve been in the industry for a long time, so it’s not a shock to me that this option does really well for large breed dogs.
It’s artificial grass again, so it does take a little more care than the real grass alternatives, but it is a good example of what it is, and a lot more affordable than other options in the same category.
The PetSafe Pet Loo isn’t the prettiest-looking thing though… so maybe if you dressed it up a little?
City Loo – Premium Potty Solution
This is a stunning doggy bathroom, please don’t get me wrong. And it works really well for what it is.
However, it’s small.
Perfect for a pomeranian, but less so for a poodle. It’s just too small and without different sizes available, you’re restricted to a 10×14 inch opening – so small dogs only.
It also relies on artificial grass, and if it’s not cleaned regularly, it can get a little stinky in there too.
Drymate Washable Pee Pads for Dogs (2-Pack), Waterproof, Absorbent, Non-Slip, Reusable Pet Training Potty Puppy Mats, Housebreaking, Incontinence Bed Pads, Crate/Kennel (USA Made) (Large, 29” x 36”)
These washable pads are (shock…) machine washable! |Which means that you buy a few of these and they replace your puppy pads entirely.
However. They’re kinda gross. You have to pull off the #2’s and if they leave a residue? All that’s going into your machine.
You can cut them to size, they’re BPA/Phthalate free which is awesome… but it does mean if you have a puppy who shreds, they’re gonna shred this too.
The biggest risk here, in my opinion, is how we teach the difference between “you can pee here, but not on the antique persian rug”, it also won’t create a transferable skill when you do want them to only go outside!
Goal: Toilet Trained
Whether you have a new puppy, an injured dog on bed rest, or you want to add something to your dogs, the ideal solution (and way better than puppy pads in my opinion!) is Fresh Patch. It’s real grass, and it’s layers of material are the most effective way to toilet train your puppy if you have to do it from indoors! They are the best puppy pads available on the market so far and is the ultimate answer for pet parents.
Make sure you check out Fresh Patch because they’re who I recommend to all my puppy clients.
Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!
Thanks to depositphotos.com for some of the images on this piece!