Although your Chihuahua will still want and need to be taken outside for exercise, you may prefer to not have to take your dog outside to use the bathroom. If you live up several flights of stairs in a big city, having a dog that can use a litter box is very convenient. If you have to be gone for long hours during the day at times and do not have someone to take your dog outside to go to the bathroom, having a dog trained to use a litter box can be essential. Perhaps you are older or have physical limitations that make it hard for you to get outside frequently; litter box training might be a huge help for you.
Many people utilize pee pads to train dogs to eliminate inside the home, but some dogs will confuse the soft fabric of the pee pads with other soft, absorbent materials in your home, such as an expensive living room rug or doormat. Using a litter box instead helps your dog to differentiate between his toilet area and the rest of your home. The rest of your home likely does not contain litter or gravel, after all. Litter can also be cheaper than pee pads, and you can purchase varieties of litter that mask the smell of poop and pee.
I adopted by dog at 14 months of age and have been training him to go outside to the bathroom. as he is small, he has trouble sleeping through the night and it is disrupted my sleep. is it too late to train him to use a litter box or would this confuse him?
Hello Momo, It is definitely not too late to train Julio. Because he has already been trained to go potty outside, you might want to train him to use the litter box outside first by walking him over to it on leash and following the same potty training process that you did to train him to pee outside in the first place. I would also purchase a potty encouraging spray, such as "Go Here", "Puppy Training Spray", or "Hurry Spray" and spray it on the litter box right before you encourage him to go potty to make the area smell like somewhere he should pee. Once he will go potty in the litter box while it is outside when you take him over to it, then begin one of the methods to train him how to use the litter box while he is inside also. Make sure that you choose a particular, obvious location to place the litter box in and keep it in that same location anytime that you want him to use it. You want him to learn to go potty in the box in a particular location and not just anywhere in the house. If he learns that peeing in that one location is alright but does not learn to pee in multiple locations throughout the house, then he is less likely to have any accidents. After he is trained to go potty in the litter box, continue to take him outside to pee the majority of the time so that he will continue telling you when he needs to go outside. The main drawback to litter box training for you will probably be not always having it with you when you travel places with him. You will need to reward him more for going potty outside and encourage him to tell you when he needs to go out, even when he has the litter box. You will need to do this so that he will not have accidents when you travel and he cannot find a litter box. When you travel, if he is used to alerting you when he needs to go, then he should simply ask you to go outside, instead of have an accident when there is not a litter box present. Another option is to bring a litter box with you when you travel. Once he is trained to pee in the litter box well enough to consistently go to it at night, then you might want to only use the litter box at night, take him outside to go potty during the day, and hide the litter box during the day, to keep his outdoor potty training stronger than his litter box training. Placing him in an Exercise Pen at night, with a bed on one end and the litter box on the other end, should help him to go potty there since it will be close to him. Otherwise you will still need to take him to go potty in the litter box during the night until he is trained well enough to find the box in the house during the night on his own. You may have to take him to the box at night at first anyway, but you should be able to switch to the Exercise Pen as soon as he associates the box with peeing, and then you can remove the exercise pen completely and just leave the litter box if he has proven during the day that he will go over to it on his own to pee. Make sure that you actually use one of the methods to litter box train him during the day. Do not expect him to simply go to it and pee in it on his own without being taught. Litter box training is just like outdoor potty training. You have to take the dog there, encourage him to go, reward him when he does, and keep him on a schedule until he learns to alert you or go there himself. Do not use Pee Pads for him at any point or you probably will have issues with accidents when he cannot find a Pad. Pee Pads are made out of fabric and look like rugs, carpet, shirts, and other fabric item to many dogs. A dog that cannot find a Pee Pad will often choose the next closest thing, like your shirt, instead of wait to go outside. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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