Transitioning our puppy from wee wee pads to outside
(New York, NY)
We adopted our puppy about 3 months ago and she is roughly 5 months old. She is now crate trained and wee wee pad trained as well. We are ready to make the transition to outside. We don't know where to begin.
She has not eliminated in the house on a wee wee in the night for about two weeks now, so we know she can wait until morning. She is also very new to a leash. We live in a city apartment and our vet insisted that we paper train her until she had all her shots as the city is full of dogs and she didn't want her to contract disease.
Most of what we have read talks about how paper training isn't good and all it does is teach your dog that it is okay to eliminate in the home. That being said we don't know where to start. We have tried removing all pads from indoors and taking her outside with a pad. She isn't accustomed to us being right next to her when she eliminates so I feel like she doesn't do it partly because the leash prevents her from having any privacy. We don't want to give her too many new things at once (ie no wee wee pads in house, crate overnight, as well as leashing her).
We have taken her out several times a day (right after meals and nap times) we have also taken her out when she has started eliminating in the house with a firm no no to doing it inside and bringing her outdoors and she just looks up at me. (ps it's like 6 below zero outside which doesn't help)
Ugh what do we do where do we start?!?!?
This is exactly why I'm not in favor of using pee-pee pads for puppies because it definitely confuses the whole issue and means you have to train a pup twice, and that can make for lots of problems!
Of course, there are times when it's essential to use the pads, and in your situation it probably was the 'lesser of two evils' as protecting your puppy's health is obviously the most important part. However, that leaves you with some hard work to do, and your little girl is obviously confused by the whole process which is normal.
At this age she should definitely be able to make it through the night without needing to pee/poop, so you've eliminated one problem. Also, the fact that she's so reliable about pottying on the pads means that she understands there are places she CAN go, and places she CAN'T - that's good. Many puppies at 5 months old are still very unreliable, especially with the pee pads.
It's a pity that she's still new to the leash as well as having to learn to potty outside, but she will adjust it's all a matter of time and patience... and repetition. Taking the pee pad outside to her new designated spot is good as it gives her some familiarity, I'd also suggest leaving behind a couple of her stools so that it is 'scent marked' as it were.
Every pup is different so you'll have to just be patient and work with her and try to figure out what part she understands etc. Some puppies figure it out faster if the pads are simply removed from the home and they go outside every single time, others need a more gradual approach. However, in general I'd recommend trying to go 'cold turkey' as it were so that she builds the new associations in her brain quickly. Puppies are creatures of habit though and it takes time for them to forget old habits and learn new ones.
I'd recommend using her crate and close supervision to prevent her from having the opportunity to eliminate indoors and combine that with very regular trips outside to her potty spot. Don't scold her too much if she messes indoors, after all that what she thinks she's supposed to do, but do tell her 'no' and take her outside immediately. Conversely, make sure she gets TONS of praise and a tasty reward or two when she 'performs' outdoors.
You've done a great job with her so far it seems, so it's really just a matter of being very patient and consistent with her and giving her time to re-learn what you expect. It may be frustrating and time-consuming for a while, but will be worth it in the end.
I wish you the best of luck with your pup and hope this has helped some.