Paper Training

Traditionally, the idea of this training is to teach a pup to do its business on old newspaper in a designated bathroom area, making it easier to clean up since the paper holds and absorbs the feces and urine.

Nowadays, litter trays, puppy pads, sandboxes, and even fake grass are used, but the approach remains the same.


  • Old newspapers
  • Food treats
  • Cleaning agents
  • Playpen, x-pen, or baby gates, depending on where you will confine your fur baby when you are not home

Other options:

  • Puppy pads – unscented or scented absorbent pads that encourage a pup to eliminate.
  • Litter boxes  – similar to what a cat uses.

The Method

This approach relies on the facts that pups:

  • Learn to relieve themselves in the same place where they have regularly been before
  • Want to go where they can smell that they have been before
  • Prefer to eliminate soft and covered surfaces rather than cold, hard floors 

You will cover a relatively wide area with paper, slowly reducing the area covered with paper, and slowly moving the paper to the bathroom.

Seven Easy Steps to Paper Training

  • Decide on your pup’s bathroom spot.
  • A smaller area where you can confine your furry buddy with a playpen, x-pen, or baby gate.
  • Opt for tiled, hardwood, or linoleum floor for easy cleaning in case of accidents.
  • Avoid a carpeted area since pups prefer the softness and may do their business on the carpet and not the paper.
  • The laundry room, kitchen, or bathroom is ideal
  • If you are using a playpen or x-pen, you can place a plastic tarpaulin before placing the paper to protect the floor and for easier cleaning.
  • Cover the whole area or room with newspaper

It will teach your pup that it must and can do its business on paper. At one end of the area or room, set up your pup’s bed, its water bowl, and place a few toys.

  • Bring your furry friend into the area.
  • Clean up after your pup as soon as you can.
  • Do not leave the dirty paper too long. You need to teach and get your puppy used to a clean place.
  • Keep a piece of the soiled paper. Use it to encourage your pup to relieve in the spot you want
  • Thoroughly clean the area of odors and stains. It is important so your dog won’t eliminate in this place once you start removing the papers.
  • Place the soiled paper you kept at one end of the area, away from your pup’s water and bed. Cover it with a fresh layer of paper. Since pups like to go where they can smell their spot, this will encourage it to relieve there.

Cut down the covered area into a spot.

You will notice that a few days later, your pup will do its business in that particular area.

  • Start by removing 1/3 of the paper under your pup’s water and bed.
  • Watch your puppy carefully. If it starts to relieve in an uncovered area, immediately intervene and direct your puppy to the paper. Praise your puppy as it does its business.
  • Praise your pup any time it eliminates on paper without you helping out.
  • Reduce the area covered with paper.

Once your dog is regularly relieving on paper, begin to lessen the paper-covered area.

  • Start with your pup’s bed area, removing the paper, leaving the paper only in the farthest area away from it.
  • If you observe your dog doing its business outside the designated area, you may have to increase the covered area once more.
  • Move the papers to the final bathroom spot. 

Once the paper has reduced to a couple of sheets, you can start moving the paper to the designated toilet area. It can be inside or outside.

If your dog makes a mistake off the paper, go back a couple of steps by adding paper and progress slowly. Clean the area thoroughly since it could be that there is odor left in that spot.

  • Inside Bathroom – keep the paper in the chosen toilet spot.
  • Outside – move the paper along a wall, day by day, relocating it towards the exit.

At the same time, place some paper outside and encourage your pup to do its business there. When the paper is right beside the exit, watch your puppy closely. When it begins to potty on the paper inside, take your pup outside to use the paper there.

Once your puppy learns to go outside, completely remove the paper indoor. Your furry friend will eventually want to go outside to do its business.

Watch your buddy carefully for a couple of days to make sure it is doing it outside.


Although paper training is easier compared to other training methods since it takes less effort and supervision, there are drawbacks.

  • This technique teaches your pup that it is alright to do its business inside. It’s fine if you are planning on a permanent toilet indoors. But if you intend on toilet outdoors, this will confuse your pup, and it may take longer for you to housebreak it.

  • You will have more accidents, up until your puppy is old enough.
  • Your puppy may become so good with the paper that it may do its business on paper lying around.
  • You will need to clean dirty papers many times a day since you have to remove traces of odor immediately, compared to other techniques where you take the pup outside or a designated spot to eliminate.
  • Your puppy may think that it can only eliminate on paper, which can be a problem when there is no paper on your walks or yard. To avoid this, always encourage your fur buddy to do its business outside by lavishly praising it when it does. 

Is Paper Training for You?

These methods are best for people who are regularly not at home for many hours, individuals who have a mobility problem, and those who live in high buildings.

If you are using another method of housebreaking, you can use this approach as a backup plan when you are not around.