Diapers, Potty Pads, and Fake Grass, Oh My!: A Potty Training Rant

29 Oct

People are lazy. We get that. We’re lazy too sometimes. What we don’t get are those people who are too lazy to potty train their damn dog.  It’s kind of a dog training basic.  Millions and millions of people do it every year.  It’s really not that hard.  Just like any other type of training, however,  it does take time and patience.  The dog industry has clearly caught on to this desire for a short-cut for potty training your dog and has created several “training products”, none of which we are particularly fond of.


We get a diaper when your dog is incontinent. We get a diaper when your bitch is in heat. We can even sort of understand a belly band on a dog that is a chronic marker. What we don’t understand is a perfectly healthy dog being allowed to marinate in urine for any length of time. Get off your ass and take the dog outside-a diaper is not a potty training aid if your dog is in it for the all of the dog’s life.


Potty Pads

Dogs learn by association, so potty pads are basically telling them that going to the bathroom within the confines of your home is perfectly acceptable.   Imagine their confusion when you get upset when they soil your grandma’s antique persian rug instead.  While potty pads may make a good short-term training tool (and even then we say “meh”), the issue is that many people never successfully graduate their dog from using the pad to going to the bathroom outside.  Do you really want your adult dog peeing and crapping inside?  We don’t. Not to mention that most dogs have the aim of a college dude on spring break, so if your lazy ass never actually moves the pad outside, look forward to mopping up piss for all of eternity.

Potty Grass

While we can kind of see the appeal if you live in a high-rise building where it’s not as easy as just letting a dog out in the yard, the thought of having a urine-soaked patch of synthetic grass on our patio (or our neighbor’s) is pretty foul.  Also, if an owner can’t train his or her dog to go to the bathroom outside (one of the easiest things to teach a dog), how will they train their dog to pee on fake grass? Also, this product seemingly gives owners another excuse not to walk the dog. It’s bad enough that so many dogs get nothing more than a five-minute walk to relieve themselves, but now with products like this, some will be lucky if they get outside at all.  Seriously, just take your dog on a walk.  Some fresh air, real(!!!) grass, and maybe some interaction with other people and dogs might do both of you some good.

This potty patch really complements my new chaise lounge, don’t you think?


The moral of the story?  Get off your ass and actually do the work it takes to potty train your dog.  Will this require some effort?  Yep.   Going outside? Probably.   Patience?  Darn skippy. There are plenty of good resources online that will walk you through potty-training your dog, so do yourself a favor and skip the above “potty” aids and plan on doing some actual work.

Or just do this.


37 Responses to “Diapers, Potty Pads, and Fake Grass, Oh My!: A Potty Training Rant”

  1. Julie October 29, 2013 at 3:09 am #

    We have a terrier mix we rescued who we think was potty pad trained. She pees on rugs in front of doors. We’ve gotten her to the point where she’s 90% potty trained. It’s so hard to break them of the habit when they’re used to a potty pad! If your dog is smart enough to know it needs to pee on a pad, it’s smart enough to know it needs to pee outside!

  2. Blair October 29, 2013 at 3:12 am #

    Good post, but doesn’t acknowledge using things like the potty patch on outdoor patios as a way of allowing the dog to relieve itself mid day when you are at work. Dog walkers are expensive, most can’t bring their dogs to work, and some folks have to be gone more than 6+ hours a day. I’d rather my dogs not have to hold their bladder that long and if putting a potty patch or pad outside on the patio does it, all the better.

  3. Shearaha October 29, 2013 at 3:16 am #

    Ooh, first comment >.>
    I agree with you all around. That said I have a few wonderful clients who have trained their dogs to litter boxes. All of these clients have toy breeds (chihuahuas, “teacup” yorkies, tiny unidentifiable mutt) that weigh less than my cats. I’m kinda OK with that since it’s no different than scooping out a cat box.

  4. Liz Droege October 29, 2013 at 3:36 am #

    Being in the retail business which includes such products I sigh a lot. Though the woman who threw a potty pad down for her little yorkie to do its business right there in the store was an amazing spectacle. I did however sell a potty patch to someone who did a lot of boating and wanted a solution for their dog who also loved to go boating. I am sure that took some training too but I hoped it worked for them. I have never had trouble housetraining my dogs… now training other family members to pay attention and let the dogs out when needed… that can be difficult!

  5. Cyn October 29, 2013 at 4:16 am #

    And to think I sent my house training article off to Janeen, Linda, Heather and a few others to be sure my sarcasm didn’t cross the JQP line into total bitch. Ya’ll are a breath of fresh air and I’m attaching this link.

  6. Sarah October 29, 2013 at 4:37 am #

    My dogs are basically housebroken, but they can’t hold it all day when I’m at work. I sure don’t want them to try. So they have pee pads, and yes, this leads them to believe its okay to use the concrete floor in that room (former back porch, now enclosed). Nowhere else. Because they’re trained.

  7. Mellafabulous October 29, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    I have italian greyhounds. If its windy, raining, snowing, misting, foggy, damp, frosty… the peepads are used. used have one dog who will not go if there’s any atmospheric condition not to her liking. I have sat outside for an hour each time, as she cowered, shivering, on three feet. Our lives are much better for the foul weather pee pad (set up in a litter box with a side for the boys to aim at).

    It’s almost a fact of life with an IG.

    • Mellafabulous October 29, 2013 at 10:09 am #

      Not sure why it says “used” twice. Sentence should say, “I have one dog who ..”

  8. bgszap2 October 29, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    I used pee pads with my one and only litter of puppies. They were great! (The pads. Well ok the puppies were too)
    The pups were too small to go out and too big for Mom to clean anymore. The pads provided endless hours of ripping, tearing, tugging, sleeping and, now and then, peeing. I finally took the pads out because I was afraid they’d eat them.
    The second they were old enough the puippies went out with the big dogs and learned to pee and poop outside. They left here about 80% housebroken. I had one complaint and those people crated the puppy and were “too busy” to do consistent training. I offered to take the dog back and then proceeded to give them an earful they never saw coming. They still have the dog, she is 8 and was housebroken within a week of my enraged lecture.
    Too busy to train? Try hamsters.

  9. Pam Lowrey October 29, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    I agree with not using these products if you’re too lazy to really train, but the pee pads were a godsend to me in the last year of my elderly dog’s life. I couldn’t take her to work with me & couldn’t come home every 3-4 hours to take her outside. The pee pads saved my hardwood floors & carpeting a lot of scrubbing.

  10. amanda Bushee October 29, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    PLEASE FORGIVE ME FOR I HAVE SINNED! I agree.. but faced with some owners who are simple, oh dont give a crap.. and homes who legit (perhaps really should not) own dogs.. do any of us who work full time and need to be away from home qualify? there is this idea that dogs must do.. can empty out.. and wait.. is this fair? I dont know about you but when I go to work for the day I don’t know if I feel the need.. so yes I have recommended these things for homes who work a normal job.. “however” not as a replacement to using outside when home, or walking the dog.. has every single home been perfect? no but when faced with a simple issue.. dog to much freedom.. to long holey crap can ypu not need the bathroom in a eight to ten hour day.. why are you mad the dog had a accident.. is one facet not explored.. not the lazy.. but I have a lot of homes legit.. worried about this and want a solution beyond keeping the dog crated.. Is in some cases good thing.. not all, and not the point I get that, but a little shout out to legit owners who care about the dogs needs, and do walk their dogs.. are not lazy.. and want to provide the dogs some options in a less then ideal (but overly loving home) would be nice.. I was so how lazy are you.. once.. but then met some people who really do walk and want their dogs to do it outside, but are also worried about the dogs needs.. do use these things.. and in the end.. I admire them.. I see a boat load of dogs crated 8+ hrs.. and never have a point to be free.. that I sometimes do understand why some find crating so aversive.. and why some people do use outside kennels, tie outs.. too.. Do I personally think some of these things encourage lazy owners? yup but so do crates, outdoor kennels, and tie outs.. 🙂 I know that is the point of the rant!! I get it..thank you.. Its like the idea.. how using a simple tie out has become so bad..that people think a invisible fence is a far more “humane” option.. sorry If I live where I dont have a fence I take a simple cheap tie out over a shock collar..as a safety back up 🙂 If I need to put a dog out when I cannot be there.. for a bit.. not leave the dog out all the time.. a controversial subject.. for sure.. just like potty patches.. or pee pads.. too!

  11. Joyce Gamsby-Kesling October 29, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    Reblogged this on Responsible Dog ~ It's all about dogs.

  12. shan shan October 31, 2013 at 12:00 am #

    my dogs are 100% house broken and i didn’t need any of these products. i take my dogs outside to potty and walk rain or shine, snow or drought. yes, sometimes it sucks, but its just another part of owning a dog.

  13. Gizmo November 1, 2013 at 12:40 am #

    I can’t tell you how much I loved this post…You’ve said everything I’ve thought but bit my tongue…I do see some use for the potty grass for high-rise dwellers as an overnight solution but only as long as the pup gets plenty of daytime walks

  14. somethingwagging November 1, 2013 at 3:02 am #

    Normally I’m on your side 100%. But I’ve been looking into artificial grass potties lately. Why? Because I’m planning to move aboard a boat with my dog and am looking for tools to help her ignore her instincts to not pee in the house/boat.

    No matter how silly things seem, you never know when they might have a legitimate use for someone.

  15. K November 7, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    I agree that there are legitimate uses for these things. I think this article was meant for people like a woman I knew who put DIAPERS on her Papillons because they “just couldn’t be housetrained”. Somehow her Golden could, though? And somehow these dogs were too stupid to be housetrained, but smart enough to bring one of them to agility classes? This woman also has been a special ed teacher for decades, is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and does ABA for Autism, but cannot grasp that the best way to teach your dog to heel is to yank it back to your side on a flat collar and yell “heel” for the entire walk without any regard to timing.

    • Chris June 11, 2015 at 1:45 am #

      Well, a golden is not a papillon. Paps are notorious for being “creative” thinkers generally convinced they can do no wrong. It’s not a matter of being stupid, far from it. Goldens, on the other hand, are much more biddable. I’m guessing you meant “cannot grasp that the best way to teach your dog to heel is *not* to …” yank, etc.. If she used such negative methods to housebreak her paps, it’s no wonder she had no luck. Sounds like they are smarter than she is!

  16. Shelly December 5, 2013 at 5:49 am #

    Couldn’t agree more with this. The only time we ever used the potty pads was for when our pup was still young and refused to go out back when it was raining. Other than that, nope- she had to learn to go outside.

  17. Eveline Kjelstrup December 11, 2013 at 1:12 am #

    I really wished right now that my old dog would use pads. He’s too heavy to carry, has difficulties walking and to go out every three hours, down two flight of stairs, while there’s snow outside is getting to us!

  18. Angela January 16, 2014 at 3:59 am #

    When you have small dogs whom can not take the cold weather, it is not being lazy to use the pads or the potty grass. There are pet owners whom care for there pets, and using some of these products does not make them lazy. Now if you don’t have time for your pet then you should not have one, but you have to think of the little ones who can not take cold weather. I am a proud chihuahua momma and I am not risking taking my little one out in the cold when she can not take it. I will have to agree with the diaper one. That is just crazy, but the pads and grass is ok for puppies and dogs who can not take bad weather.

    • Bev January 22, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

      I agree with you regarding making little dogs go outside in bad weather. I have a 14 month old Moodle. He goes to the toilet outside in the day but I shut the door to the outside at night and leave the veranda door open so he can use the grass toilet. All good, except that he does his business BESIDE his grass potty. Any ideas to get him to use it?

    • Kitty Galore January 9, 2016 at 4:11 pm #

      I agree. I have three hairless Chinese Cresteds and I live in WI. 95% of the time they go out….with me the whole time they are out! When they walk outside and and it is so cold they literally can’t move, it is piddle pad time. They do have sweaters, flannels, parkas, snow pants, and even footies…however, -40 is too damn cold!! My boy also used to wear a belly band for marking before I nuetured him….it saved my house from smelling like piss! If you use the tools properly AND not because you are lazy, then they are very helpful and a godsend. I had hunting dos in the past and they were all outdoor trained. When you deal with little dogs it is a whole different ballgame.

  19. Skeeter March 8, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    People are always so judgemental and only considers their situation now. For many reasons, People may use these products. I have to because of mobility issues not laziness. My dog is trained to use the pad in one place only in a corner dedicated potty. She occasionally poops outside of the range within a few inches but that is understandable because dogs like to walk around sometimes to completely eliminate. She knows not to go any other place than the pad in the corner.
    Stop for a moment and think outside of your box. You never know what your tomorrow brings you shouldn’t say that people that use these products are lazy.

  20. Liz Blue March 13, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

    In reference to potty training pads…. its really annoying to live in a major metropolitan area and here people talking like everyone lives in a house with a yard. There are millions of people in my city and no houses! If you have a young puppy, who has not yet had her second set of shots, the puppy cannot walk on the sidewalk. You definitely should not take her to the park, where millions of other dogs walk on the grass and who knows what disease is incubating there. No park action till 3rd set of shots. So…. guess what? You use puppy pads! No choice! When your puppy has had its second set of shots, and can safely walk outside, then you can teach them to go outside. I did that with my puppy, who was my first puppy by the way, and she is perfectly house trained. As are millions of urban dogs. Even when she had terrible upset tummy- once it kept her from eating for 3 days- she did not let it rip until she had gotten through to me (and it didn’t hit me right away) that she needed out (at 3AM, once) and I got her out safely. I bet many puppies trained in their yards or whatever- who never saw a pad in their lives- have had a diarrhea episode inside due to illness and the human would not even count that as an accident.

  21. Tern March 14, 2014 at 12:32 am #

    I mostly agree with you, though I can see that there might be exceptions for people who live on boats or who have elderly or disabled dogs who can’t wait to go out.

    I’ve had four yorkie crosses during my lifetime. We live in Minnesota. Small dogs can go outside, even in cold weather and deep snow. Shovel the snow. Put a sweater on them. Go out with them; it only takes 15 seconds for them to pee, and they’ll run back in quickly if it gets cold. Realize that very small dogs can take longer to housetrain, and they need to go out pretty much constantly when they’re puppies (every 20-30 minutes for the first couple weeks), and you need to watch them all the time until they’re reliably trained. But you can train them to go outside if you keep working at it, and most of them enjoy the outdoors. Mine want to go on short walks–in warm sweaters–when it’s 5 degrees fahrenheit, and when it’s colder than that they still want to run outside for a few minutes. Let them be dogs and enjoy the outside world.

  22. Taylor March 23, 2014 at 3:58 am #

    Honestly, I don’t find it “lazy”. My dog is house trained and will go outside if taken. However, we live in an apartment and taking him out five times a day isn’t possible. The potty pad makes it possible for us to let him do his morning routine while we do ours. It might be silly to you, but then, you call yourself a snob. Aha. Anyway, you never know when the dog just might NEED this. Is the litter box for a cat lazy, too? Or should I toilet train my cat to gain your approval? Hmph.

  23. April May 7, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    I had a friend that always used potty pads for her dogs….it was literally because she was too lazy to train them.
    I got my puppy(GSD) at 8 weeks old the end of December. I live in NH. It was cold, and so much snow…..we had a ‘never-ending’ winter this year. But I did NOT use potty pads!!! I brought my dog outside every hour to go to the bathroom. (Even woke her at night to bring her out) She was house trained in 3 days…..She is 6 months old now and never had an accident in the house. I hung a bell to the front door…she rings it when she has to go out to go potty.
    I did, however, have to re-train her on where she could go to the bathroom once all the snow had melted!! When there was snow, she would pee or poop where the snow was. As the snow melted…her options were getting slim. We had one little patch of snow left that she was using faithfully…..then it melted. Poor girl!! But she did wonderful….I would take her out on her leash to the woods (my husband loves his lawn….so peeing there is not an option… Haha)and tell her to go pee or go poop. She had that down pat after doing it a couple of times. Now when I bring her outside(no leash) I just tell her “Go poop in the woods” and she goes where she’s supposed to. Even when we are playing in the yard, she will run to the woods to pee if she has to go.
    Do your dogs a favor….get rid of the pee pads. It takes time and patience to train them….but it is worth it in the end. You will be happy and so will your dog!

  24. Jen Lee July 14, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

    My dog does everything outside. But it would be nice during a major storm to not have to put him or myself in danger while still letting him relive himself.

  25. Allie January 15, 2015 at 9:08 pm #

    I recently broke my ankle and live on the third story of an apartment with my 2 year old dog who is completely house broken. I chose to use a fake grass patch on my balcony so I don’t have to hobble up and down the stairs with my dog 4-5 times a day. Otherwise, I always take my dog to go potty outside rain or shine. I guess I’m trying to say that there are definitely exceptions, and some of these potty methods are extremely convenient to humans and pups.

  26. Dianna B January 16, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

    When dogs get older, they often can’t hold their urine all night, even when the owner DOES “get off her ass” and walk the dog. Our dog is humiliated when she pees in the house so we have a potty patch. It works well and if you “get off your ass” and keep it clean, it doesn’t smell either. Have a little compassion please!

  27. Judy February 3, 2015 at 9:39 pm #

    We have three chihuahuas, all between 3 -7 pounds and we unashamedly use puppy pads for our dogs. We both work all day so there is no one home to take the dogs outside. The puppy pads are our, and our floors, lifesaver. We live in an apartment, but when we are home we take them outside every hour or so. How cruel would it be of us to expect our babies to hold it for 8-10 hours at a time? Most of us can’t do that and we are a lot bigger than they are.

    • Chris June 11, 2015 at 1:48 am #

      Well said. I have 5 toy dogs and agree completely. They use the yard, they use the piddle pads, it’s all good. And my senior dogs don’t have any issues with “leaking” like most dogs do.

  28. ladychaunceybarkington March 2, 2015 at 4:48 am #

    “Dogs learn by association, so potty pads are basically telling them that going to the bathroom within the confines of your home is perfectly acceptable.”

    Dogs don’t have a tendency to generalize behaviors like this. That’s a primate learning trait.

    Also, service dogs (and dogs who travel a lot or are becoming/are incontinent, or with owners who have health problems) are frequently potty pad trained.

  29. DWales March 30, 2015 at 5:17 pm #

    Add the scenario my Mini Dachshund, who was successfully and quickly potty trained & crate trained at 6/8 weeks (as was his sister) and had rare accidents (as puppies tend to do) is allergic to much outside. Our lawn is kept beautifully, clipped often, and yet every spring/summer in South Florida, post mowing, he is a hiving mess. This is a common problem with Dachshunds, and many other breeds. Aside from continuing immunity destroying shots, we are now teaching him to use the artificial turf while boosting his immunity which is better for his overall health. Also, on a boat, that we take them out on, there is no grass. I guess my guys could just whip it over the edge of the boat or hold it for hours/days? Yeah, no 😉

    Am I lazy? After 20+ years of raising and training Service and Therapy Dogs, am I a horrible owner? No. Owners have many reasons and situations for using alternative potty training methods. Educating owners to train in an effective and consistent manner should be the goal, not berating them for their personal choices, some of which may be a necessary choice for the dogs best interest.

  30. Nope September 1, 2016 at 5:55 am #

    Some people diaper their dogs. Get over it. Snob is certainly accurate.

  31. Donna Gabriele September 11, 2016 at 11:02 pm #

    I suffer from Lupus SLE among other autoimmune illnesses. My fur baby PJ, a pekingese 14ls, crossed over Thursday 2 weeks ago. We loved each other unconditionally and our bond was 1 of the strongest the vet has ever seen. He had a liter pan in the mast bathroom with complete access at his whim. In the upstairs guest bath he used that for #2.
    I’m disabled and this sweet baby gave me love, life’joys, and saved me from depression from chronic disease. In return he was showered with the love of my heart to the point where I think I hugged, kissed and spoiled him too much. When I was able we went on walks and even a fenced play area where he could wander. He just liked the idea of walking together, he sensed the pain I was in and was happy being the child I never had. PLEASE DON’T LUMP PEOPLE WHO ARE ILL,DISABLED AS CRUEL OR LAZY. My vet said he’d never seen a sweeter, more loving and compliant patient. He said PJ was lucky to have me I WAS THINKING I WAS THE LUCKY ONE.


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