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Hotels, airports, airplanes: Teaching Chloe to use pee pads

When Chloe arrived in our home, we skipped the pee pad part of house-training. We have a (very small) side yard, so when the moment seemed right (and yes, often just after the right moment), we’d whisk her outside. I never regretted that approach until the day we were flying from Seattle to Florida with Chloe and didn’t have a sufficiently long layover to go out to the airport’s pet relief area. Taking my own advice, I blanketed the floor of the big bathroom stall with pee pads, let Chloe out of her carrier, and urged her to proceed. She looked at me like I had three heads, and sat down.

Happily, she managed to hold out for five more hours, but the experience taught me that even the most sweet-natured dog won’t know what to do with a pee pad if she’s never seen one before. There are times, though — like that one — when a pee pad is the answer to all your problems. On a very long flight, too, you can put a couple of pee pads on the floor of your airplane’s bathroom, and give your dog a needed break. And if you’re staying at a hotel in an intensely urban environment, you might well prefer for your dog’s last, late-night bathroom break to happen indoors — no need to change back out of your jammies to take the pup for a walk, no long schlep down to the ground floor, no need to keep your city radar up while you’re waiting for your pup to choose the patch of sidewalk that really speaks to her.

We turned to Ahimsa Dog Training, the same Seattle group that gave Chloe her first obedience lessons and taught us how to teach her to use Poochie Bells. Here’s what they told us: Put a pee pad down in the outside spot she most favors, stand next to it, shorten her leash until she’s restricted to peeing either on the pad or darned near it, and shower her with treats and praise when she does the deed. The goal, of course, is to get her to pee on the pad every time she sees it (extra credit if she poops on the pad). Then you gradually move the pad nearer and nearer the door. Then you move the pad into a bathroom. The hope is that she will form a strong association between the pad and eliminating, such that she will pee or poop indoors only if the pad is present, and only on the pad.

We started the process about a month before leaving for Paris, which I’ll tell you right now is not enough time. By the time we left, Chloe was beginning to pee consistently on or next to the pee pad placed in her preferred outdoor spot, but heaven help us if we moved the pee pad nearer the house at all (and the one time I just, heck, put a pee pad down in one of our bathrooms, she gave me The Look and sat down). Now, between you and me, Chloe’s not one of those quick learners when it comes to house-training. Your dog will likely catch on much faster. But give yourself some time, and be patient with your pup. You really don’t want her to associate the pee pad with shrieking, leash yanking, or other indicia of Crazed Owner Frustration.

I let the process slide a bit after we returned from Paris (and thanks to Chloe’s bladder control and Dulles’ air-side pet relief area, that trip went well), but I’m going to start again. I look forward to the day when I can add pee pads (and a pee pad frame, for hotel room use — the frame keeps the pee pads from bunching up or slipping) to Chloe’s packing list.

Amazon link:
Iris XL Floor Protection Tray for Pet Training Pads