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Paper Training

January 12, 2017

PetSafe® Expert

Caryl Wolff

Pros and Cons of Paper Training for Puppies

All puppies have to pee and poop, and each owner/guardian needs to choose where their toilet area is going to be based on their lifestyle and circumstances. There are many toilet options, one of which is paper training along with its very close relative, pee pad training.

Before choosing paper or pad, take into consideration your puppy's adult size. Generally speaking, the smaller the adult dog, the more frequently he has to go and the smaller his pees and poops will be. As a puppy grows into a large adult dog, the larger and less frequent his pees and poops will be.

Paper training or pee pad training is a safety net - giving your puppy a "legal" place to eliminate when you're away from the home or when you can't watch him. Unless the breeder has already trained your puppy, it's up to you to train him that you want him to go on the paper or pad.

Basic potty training is a five-step process:

  • Take your puppy
  • Where you want him to go
  • When he has to go
  • Reward him when he goes in the right place
  • Watch him like a hawk or confine him when you can't watch him.

In this article, we're not going into the mechanics of potty training but just discussing the pros and cons of paper or pee pad training.

There are advantages to paper/pee pad training:

  • It's a good method for people who live in high-rise buildings.
  • It's good for people who have mobility or health issues and can't take their puppy outside.
  • It's good for people who are not at home and cannot watch their puppy.
  • He will still use his toilet area when the weather is not ideal.
  • You don't have to get up in the middle of the night to take him outside.
  • If you plan to travel, then your puppy has an easily accessible toilet area.
  • It's a good option if your puppy has been injured and has difficult walking long distances.

But there are also disadvantages:

  • It's not fool-proof - in fact, there may be more accidents because your puppy is not being taught he has to "hold it" for any length of time since the toilet is readily accessible. And he may never become fully potty trained.
  • It will take longer to train him to eventually go outside.
  • He still needs to be confined when you're training and not able to watch him.
  • Your house smells!
  • You have to remember to put fresh papers/pads down.
  • He will learn it's okay to toilet in the house, and this may become a problem if it's a male dog and he lifts his leg on the furniture.

Newspapers aka Paper Training


  • It's inexpensive.
  • A good way to use old newspapers.
  • You easily can throw them in the trash.
  • It's ecologically friendly.


  • Your puppy can shred them.
  • Papers absorb the moisture; and if your puppy steps on the pee, he will track the pee and newsprint as he walks around your house.
  • Unless you put a nonporous liner such as plastic or linoleum underneath, the pee will soak through to your floors.
  • The pee can drip as you are cleaning up.
  • Unless you surround it with a low-lying barrier, your puppy can have his front feet on the paper and his rear end on your floor and thus miss the paper entirely.

Puppy Pee Pads


  • They are easily available.
  • They are easy to dispose of.
  • Some brands have an infused scent to attract your puppy to go on them.
  • You can change them after each use.
  • They may contain odor eliminator.
  • They have a plastic backing so the pee doesn't leak through to the floor.
  • Using pee pads helps in teaching your puppy to go in a specific location or specific surface.


  • They are an ongoing expense.
  • Your puppy can mistake a throw rug for a pee pad because it looks the same and the surface is similar.
  • Your puppy may miss the pad, saturate the carpet/ floor, and pee can stain your flooring.
  • Using pee pads delays teaching your puppy to hold it if you ultimately want him to go outside.
  • Some puppies like to tear the pads up or lie on top of them.
  • Unless you surround it with a low-lying barrier, your puppy can have his front feet on the paper and his rear end on your floor and thus miss the paper entirely.
  • Your puppy may like to play with the pad and move it around.

So, that's basically it. There are millions of dogs who use papers or pee pads, and millions who do not. As we said before, it's a choice for you to make based on your dog's size, your lifestyle, and your circumstances. Potty training is generally the first training we do with our puppies, so please make the right choice for you and your puppy.

Written by

Caryl Wolff

Caryl Wolff

Puppy Expert

PetSafe® Expert

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