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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I am having a difficult time training my puppy to use pee-pads. We have sectioned off a small portion of the kitchen for him (about 3.5 ft by 2.5') for him to be in while we are away at work. He has food and water, a few toys, a towel for him to lay on and a scented pee-pad to use while we are gone.
He has gotten very good at being walked outside. We walk him every morning as soon as we wake up, in the afternoon as soon as we get home, and again after dinner in the evening. However, it looks like he will only eliminate on the pad if he can no longer hold it. There are days where we will come home and he will not have used it at all. Then, when we walk him, he eliminates easily.
we have a pad set up in every room of the house so he has a place to go if needed, but he will instead go on the tile.
The pads are scented with an attractant and i spray additional attractant on them as well. We reward him when we observe him eliminate on the pad. We have taken a pad and absorbed some of his own pee so it has his scent, but he will not get used to it.
Is it possible that having him get used to eliminating outside on grass 3 times a day is confusing him to use the pads?
Hello Chris, He is actually doing exactly what he should be doing in terms of instinct. Pee pads are made of fabric and many dogs associate them with carpet or rugs, so they try to avoid peeing on them in an effort to be good and not have what they view as an accident inside. For these dogs I usually suggest switching to real grass pads instead. You can continue to use pee pads with the small confined area and he should become more comfortable using them eventually, but because he shows signs of associating them with other fabrics like rugs, and not wanting to go potty on them, once he does learn to pee on them easiest, you may have issues with accidents on rugs and clothing. Since he is doing so well outside, I suggest continuing to encourage pottying outside and use a real grass pad inside when you are gone if he cannot hold it that long. Disposable real grass pad - Each one is advertised to last up to two weeks: https://www.freshpatch.com Amazon.com also carried a couple of brands. Look for ones made with real grass for an easier transition to using them for him. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Getting her to tell me when she needs to go potty
Very cute! Often dogs are quite subtle when they want something. They may stand by the door and not say a word for the longest time, making it hard to get a signal. In that case, teach Sophie to let you know by ringing a bell when she needs to go out: https://wagwalking.com/training/ring-a-bell-to-go-out. It won't happen overnight and will take many repetitions of the steps to get it right. Be patient and persistent. Another option is the doggy door. Dogs are often easily trained to let themselves into a fenced yard when needed. Good luck!
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Hello there! My Shih Tzu, Cookie, has been trained to use a litterbox ever since birth. She has no problem using it 95% of the time, however, because she is so used to a litterbox always being nearby, if it's not in the same room (because we have to move it, while cleaning, etc.), she will just go potty anywhere on the floor instead of waiting/holding it in. Ideally, if she can't find a litterbox, I'd like her to notify me that she has to go potty by training her to ring a bell.
The second problem we're having is...sometimes she eats or plays with her own feces. We remove that problem by using positive reinforcement whenever she leaves it (bag up her feces and give her a treat), however, if we don't know that she's used the litterbox and leave her alone with it for more than 10 minutes, she will try to eat or hide her feces in her bed.
We have 3 litter boxes: one in my home office (where I reside most of the time with her), one in the kitchen (she uses it while we're cooking/eating dinner), and one in the bedroom (where we watch TV / sleep at night). These are the living spaces where she mostly stays with me, as I work from home.
The only times she has had accidents is when she's in an unfamiliar area of the house (when she was younger only, now she has less accidents), and more recently, when I accidentally forgot to bring the litterbox back into my home office (she peed on the floor near the door). The good news is, we took a road trip a few months ago and she was very good with holding in her bladder during 4 hour long stretches and didn't have any accidents in the car.
So, my goal is:
1) I want her to let me know if she needs to go potty by ringing the bell.
2) I want her to ring the bell to let me know that she has gone potty so that I can pick it up right away and reward her (to prevent her from eating her feces).
3) I want to eventually give her only ONE place in the whole house to use her litterbox, inside the laundry room downstairs.
Do you think this is possible, or would it be too confusing for her? Do you recommend a different approach?
Thanks so much for your advice, I really appreciate it!
Hello Amy, 1. Check out the Peanut Butter method from the article linked below. The first step is simply to teach her to ring a bell when you point to it or tell her to. https://wagwalking.com/training/ring-a-bell-to-go-out 2. To teach her to ring the bell when she needs to use the litter box, opposed to when she needs to go outside - like the article mentions, begin to intentionally take her over to the litter box before she goes on her own throughout the day. Once she has learned how to ring the bell when you instruct her to, then instruct her to ring it, give a treat, encourage her to go potty, and if she goes potty - especially poops, instruct her to ring it again and give another treat after she has potties then rings the bell at your instruction (reward for peeing also at first). As soon as she is familiar with ringing the bell before pottying, quickly transition from giving a treat right after ringing the bell - before she potties, to giving a treat after she rings the bell AND potties - so the treat comes after pottying. Also, when she begins to get good at ringing the bell again after pottying, start only rewarding her again for ringing the bell after she poops. Eventually the process should look like - take her over the potty, instruct her to ring the bell, wait for her to go potty, give a treat after she goes; if she poops also, instruct her to ring the bell again, give a treat for ringing it. This will need to be practiced often for pup to get to the point where she begins to do the ringing on her own. Set the bell up where the litter box that she uses most frequently is now, so that when the litter box isn't there, the bell will still be there for her to ring and let you know she has to go. Later, when you remove the other litter boxes, keep bells in their place. 3. Whether pup will do well with just one litter box depends on how open your house stays - no closed doors where she can't get to the litter box and doesn't have a bell in that room to ring, and how many levels it has. For a small, one level house, where doors are normally left open, it is very realistic to expect her to go to the box with some vigilance and training for a while. You shouldn't have to keep litter boxes in every room, but you do want to replace and litter boxes you remove with bells once she has learned to associate that with the litter box, to practice having her ring the bell and walking into a different room to use the litter box, once the initial litter box and bell training is done - this will need to be done for each bell location to help her make the connection between the bell and going to the potty in another place in each location, and you will need to add bells to areas where she currently is having accidents most often when the litter box isn't present - especially if there is a room she is often locked in, like a bedroom without a litter box in it. All of this can be done, but it will probably take months of you being vigilant about leading her to the potty many times and rewarding with treats at the right times, opposed to days of training. It should be a gradual process though - with the training process getting easier as you go, even though she will need help in some locations for the full amount of time. It shouldn't require as much for two months in as it will the first two weeks for example, but you probably won't have complete reliability before 6 months. As long as you feel committed to that process well enough that you can stay consistent enough for it to work, it does sound feasible to me. If your home has multiple levels, an easier compromise, might be to do everything I mentioned above, but leave one liter box per house level, so that, although she has to go into another room to find the box, it's not completely across the house - making the training easier and probably quicker for her. I also suggest asking your vet about the poop eating. Under your vet's direction, you can add plain canned pumpkin to pup's food or a product specifically designed to discourage poop eating to her food. I would still pursue picking up the poop quickly and encouraging her to alert you after she goes - to minimize the amount of time she has the option of eating it - since the pumpkin or product will make it less desirable to eat, but often doesn't stop a dog completely if you leave them long enough and often enough with the poop - and the product won't stop the poop hiding. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I'm trying the exercise pen option but he just sits on the grass (instead of the bed) and whines and shakes. Is this normal? Do I have to tough love past this? Thanks
Hello Shruti, It sounds like pup doesn't know how to cope with being confined and alone - more than the potty training being the cause of the nervousness. Check out the Surprise method from the article linked below, following the tips with pup in the exercise pen instead of the crate. With pup locked in the exercise pen, periodically sprinkle treats on the dog bed that's in the pen, then leave again. Ignore pup while you do this (you want to act calm and confident to help pup relax sooner), simply leaving the treats on the bed for pup to find. If pup gives you breaks in the whining, try to time your treat sprinkles when pup is quiet for a couple of seconds, to reinforce the calmness, instead of the nervousness. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate This will partially also just take time. If pup was never crate trained in the past as a puppy, pup is likely simply having to learn that confinement and alone time are normal as an adult. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Our puppy is 5 weeks old, so we have 3 more weeks of prep before we bring him home. I want to crate train him, and am taking the first week off from work. While my husband and I both work close and many times can coordinate letting him out every 3-4 hours, the initial 2 hours will be tough. I’m thinking we need to do the exercise pen with real grass and an open crate inside it when we’re gone for longer stretches. I’m just confused on how we can crate train whenever one of us is home, and overnight, but also give him the option to use the “grass” if he can’t hold it. I have no idea how to transition away from it when he can stay in his crate longer. Please help me with a plan.
Thank you for the adorable photo! I think what you are looking to accomplish is doable, but it may not be perfect from day one. But keep working at it - and you are wise to be thinking of all of the particulars ahead of time. This is an excellent article that describes in great detail what I agree would be a good option. It combines the pen and a crate, and also gives the opportunity to use the grass litter as a training tool. https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/how-to-set-up-puppy-long-term-confinement-area It's much easier for you to read the plan in the article than for me to explain it here. We have a good guide on crate training here: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside. As well, this guide can help you with the litter box, and it incorporates the pen, too: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy. As for transitioning Jax from the grass litter to the outside, typically it works well because the grass is what they are already used to. I hope this information helps and enjoy your little munchkin!
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