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Hi everyone. I adopted a 8 year old Pomeranian from a shelter a few months back and have had zero luck in pad training her. She uses the pad maybe 20% of the time. The rest she goes on the carpet, the hardwoods, or really wherever. Its very frustrating but I try to never fuss at her and just pick her up and put her on the pad when I catch her. I try to take her out as often as possible when I am home but work 3-4 12hr shifts every week where I’m gone from home for longer periods of time, hence the pads. Any tips on what I can do to try to get her to use the pads consistently?
 

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Many dogs have a lot of trouble understanding that it's okay to potty inside on one absorbant material, but not anywhere else. This can be especially true for dogs who are used to going wherever they want, and it sounds like this might be the case with her.

Teaching them not to go inside at all is usually the clearest and easiest goal, with a walker to come and take her out on long work days, but I understand that this isn't feasible for everyone.

I'd change her potty area to a substrate unlike anything in the rest of the house. Preferably something similar to something she potties on the most outside, e.g. gravel or even real sod, if you can swing it. I'd also confine her when you're not home or cannot supervise to a long, rectangular pen area with a bed (or crate, if she has one) in one end and the potty as far away from the bed as possible. Most dogs will instinctively potty as far away from their bed as they can, so if you're lucky, she'll teach herself to use the potty area. Any time she uses the potty area when you're around, she gets praise and high value treats. No fuss for accidents is the right approach, but pottying in the correct place means she deserves a big, positive fuss for being so good!

The recommendation I've heard for this setup is to clean up the poo as soon as you see it, leave the pee, and change the substrate once a week. It's typically for housebreaking puppies, but I could see it working well to essentially litter train a small dog, as well. The idea is that she has less opportunity to make mistakes when confined, and she can get more freedom as she builds the habit and preference for going in the 'correct' space.
 
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