Sarah Wilson

Dog Expert

Quick DIY Fix for Common Paper Training Problems


DIY paper training frame The two most common paper training problems I deal with are: Failure to run back to the papers when a pup needs to go and not being all the way on the papers when they are going.

One thing I know about training of any kind: If you can’t practice something, it won’t improve. So, how could I set things up so it was easier for the dog to succeed and harder to err?

I tried the various pad holders on the market and didn’t like any of them much. They can wobble on hard flooring, slip, make changing papers an extra hassle and there is no adaptability to different size papers possible but, most critical to me, the sides weren’t high enough to discourage the annoying, messy and counterproductive straddling some pups do over the edge of the paper. This sent me to the drawing board. My answer? A taller frame.

Here’s how I make them:

4 PVC 3-way connectors
4 pieces of 1/2 PVC – these are 22″ each

Virtually any saw can cut PVC, or you can buy a PVC cutter

I dry fit the frame together and voila!

If I need slightly higher legs, I can cut some nubs of PVC to do that job.

For little cash, I’ve made a durable, easy-to-transport, effective paper training tool. I use it to teach pups to get all the way on to the papers when they go and later, when that is working well in one location, it helps support the right choice when I start moving papers around.

Paper training a puppyHere’s how I use it:

  • Set it up away from the papers at first.
  • Teach pup to enter that area happily using praise and a small treat the pup can eat without crumbs or chewing (this is a bathroom area, not a dining room).
  • My cue word is “Papers” – feel free to use whatever works for you, just be consistent.
  • Once pup is entering the frame happily I move them away from the frame a foot or so, say “Papers” then go back to the frame. Always starting my praise when they enter the frame all the way. Good puppy!
  • When the puppy is completely comfortable with the frame, then I put it over the papers.
  • We repeat the game.
  • As pup gets more practice, I start her farther away from the papers, always walking back with her. Always praising warmly when the pup steps all the way into the frame.
  • During this same time period, I am working on our cue to urinate “Hurry Up” or defecate “Get Busy” so I can soon send her back to the papers then suggest the appropriate activity there.
  • Right now, Button, who is a week into this training, urinates promptly when asked about 90% of the time and we are walking from her crate to the papers. Good puppy!

Other paper training hints:

  • Use human underpads (less pricey) rather then wee wee pads.
  • Wipe down under the papers with an odor neutralizer when you change them as leaking urine or wet paws can track the scent, confusing matters for your learning puppy.
  • Put a entry mat – waterproof bottom up – under the papers to prevent leaking onto floor.
  • Dab a tiny bit of a wet spot onto the center of a fresh paper.
  • Change paper often as many pups will avoid using a dirtied paper.

If you have questions about paper training, ask me in comments. I’ll get to all I can. If you need custom help, I’m available for phone or skype consults.

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