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I've been trying to train my puppy to use potty pads for over a month to no avail. The biggest problem is that as soon as she sees a potty pad she instantly sets in on shredding into fine strips of confetti using her teeth and paws.

I researched this online and spoke to the puppy training expert at my vet about this.

Here are something things I've tried:

1. Use a pad holder, use pads with sticky edges, tape the pad down

RESULT: She can dislodge the pad despite this, but it really doesn't matter because even with secured edges she still manages to tear herself a hole in the middle of the pad (like drilling a pilot hole) then proceeds to totally decimate the pad. I think she times herself to see how long it takes her and she's got her time under 10 seconds.

2. Use verbal commands to stop her

RESULT: This only works in the moment I'm doing it (if at all) and then the second I turn my attention elsewhere she goes back to destruction.

3. Spray the edges with bitter apple

RESULT: She licks it then asks me if she can have some more of the "apple candy". I guess I could find something stronger but she doesn't need the edges to destroy it and it seems like that would just deter her from going onto the pad anyway.

4. Restrict her movements

RESULT: I tried this and it's failed multiple ways. If I make it where she can only be in the crate or on the pad and she's left alone, then the pad gets destroyed long before she would need to use it. I've also tried feeding her a big meal then putting her on the crate and only letting her out directly onto the pad with me there holding her leash. I did this every 15-20 minutes for 2 entire evenings last week. She just "holds" it somehow and has no idea what I'm trying to get her to do.

For the record she is a very smart dog and she has no problem going outside. However she does have to spend significant time alone during working hours, so she needs the pads yet she just thinks they're too appealing as shreddable objects.

Oh, and in case you're wondering:

  • she's got a billion toys, they just aren't as cool as shredding potty pads I guess
  • her nails are trimmed
  • Ah, yes, sour and bitter things to get dogs to stay way. Heard similar tips using lemons. Our dog almost tried to eat the lemon smelling furniture. – Mario Jul 4 '16 at 6:47
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In our case it was usually enough to place a more interesting toy nearby. Although to be honest, while our (Husky) puppy was quite overactive, he never tried to seriously ear or shred the pads. He scratched one once, but that's been it.

We never had some holder for it, I only had to make sure to pin the corners with some (paper) tape.

Another thing you could try, get some artificial "scent" to put on the center of the pad so the dog will instinctively smell that this isn't meant for playing. The quicker (and cheaper) approach for this is to wait for some accident to happen (or till the next round outside), then grab some paper towel, pick some liquid up and rub it over the center of the training pad. You could also use some dropper/pipette, if you've got one. This doesn't have to be a lot, just a few drops should be more than enough.

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You might try putting a pad outside on the ground when you take her out to see if she has any desire to go to it. Maybe if she already has a preferred location outside that she does her business, you could prepare ahead of time and place a pad or two out there and see if she ignores them, or avoids them. It may be strange, but when she goes outside, take a pad and soak up some urine on it, and take it back inside and she if she recognizes that as an appropriate place now that there is obviously urine on this "pad". Maybe she won't rip it up either. We have a new puppy and she did the same thing (ripping up the pad immediately). Luckily for us someone will be home with her for the next 2 months every day, so we have just completely stopped offering pads. Good luck!

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  • It's gross, but it makes sense. – Hack-R Jul 4 '16 at 15:37
  • I wasn't aware of the artificial scent like the other answer mentions. Sounds like a great idea and also avoids using "real urine" to solve a problem. – Brien Foss Jul 4 '16 at 15:41

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