How to Train Your Dog to Poop in a Litter Box

Medium
3-6 Weeks
General

Introduction

There are many reasons you might want your dog to go potty inside your house rather than taking him for a walk or letting him outside to go. Larger metropolitan areas may not have easily accessible grassy areas to walk your dog. Apartment living, especially high-rise apartment living, may give you reason enough to teach your dog to poop in a litter box rather than having to put your dog on a leash and walk him outside several times a day. In areas where extreme winter weather conditions can be tough for small and tiny breed dogs, walking your dog outside can be all the more difficult. Finding a clean patch of grass for your dog to poop on might be a challenge in the middle of a snowy winter, especially for those small breed dogs. Owners who have a more difficult time getting their dogs out on a regular basis may also want to consider teaching their dog to poop in a litter box.

Defining Tasks

Teaching your dog to use a litter box within your home is not difficult. However, it will require time, dedication, and patience. If you have a cat in your home using a litter box you are going to want a separate litter box for your dog then the one your cat uses. You may also need to consider the type of litter box you provide for your dog. A tiny breed dog may fit just fine in a cat litter box, but a larger dog may need a bin with taller sides or a little bit more room to turn around. This can be a cardboard box lined with plastic or newspaper or it could be a taller plastic box. Consider the gender of your dog and whether he lifts his leg to urinate as you pick the litter box you plan to use for your dog. Teaching your dog to poop in a litter box is not much different than teaching him to poop outside. It's a matter of repetition and dedication.

Getting Started

To train your dog to poop in a litter box you will need the appropriate box for your dog's breed, size, and gender. You will also need time and patience and dedication in showing him where to go each time it's time to eliminate. Be prepared after meals and after waking up to take your dog to the box so that he is successful and learns where he is supposed to go on his own. Also, make sure you have some tasty treats on hand for rewards. Be prepared for some repetitive training sessions but also prepare yourself to do them several times a day to set your dog up for success.

The Go Potty Method

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Step
1
Introduce
Introduce a litter box to your dog. Be sure this is a separate box from the one your cat may be using and keep it in a place where it is visible to your dog, especially while training. If you have a male dog, consider a box with high sides to catch urine if your dog lifts his leg.
Step
2
After meals
Within a few minutes of eating a meal, take your dog to the litter box, help him inside, and say a key phrase such as ‘go potty.’
Step
3
Treat
Even if he doesn’t use the potty the first few times he’s introduced to the box, give him a treat for trying and going inside.
Step
4
After waking
As soon as your dog wakes, especially if he’s a puppy, place him in the litter box to go potty.
Step
5
Key phrase command
Each time you put your dog in the box or take him to the box, use the phrase you choose to tell him what to do. This could be as simple as ‘go potty.’ This phrase will be what you will say to ask your dog to use the box even when you are no longer taking him to it.
Step
6
Reward
Be sure to reward your dog each time he uses the box to go potty. You may consider a more high value treat if he uses the potty on his own or goes to the box after hearing your command rather than you taking him to it.
Step
7
Redirect
If you catch your dog using the house instead of the box, simply redirect him by placing him in the box to finish. You may need to continue taking him to the box until he is ready to go on his own. Do not give him a treat for redirection.
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The Get Familiar Method

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Step
1
Pick a box
Choose a box perfect for your dog’s size and gender. Higher walls might be better for a male dog who lifts his leg. Cat litter boxes could be great for a tiny breed dog. Otherwise, choose a box that will attract your dog.
Step
2
Filler
Cat litter isn’t the best thing for dogs to use, but some love it. Some dogs may eat the litter or play in it. Newspapers, pellets, or dog litter are ideal for a doggie litter box. Some owners use a pee pad on the floor of the box.
Step
3
Introduce
Take your dog to his new litter box. If he’s used to a command to go potty, begin using that. If he has not yet learned a command, pick one and use it each time he goes to use the litter box.
Step
4
Sniffing around
When your dog sniffs around the house or circles in one place, he is probably searching for the perfect place to go potty. Take him to his litter box and use your command to tell him to go potty.
Step
5
Other times
Take your dog to his litter box after every meal and after waking. Use the command he is learning to go potty.
Step
6
Reward
Be sure to reward your dog every time he is successful.
Recommend training method?

The Use Your Box Method

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Step
1
Newspaper
Place newspaper down on top of pellets or material you plan to use for your litter box.
Step
2
Introduction
Take your dog to the litter box and set him down on top of the newspaper.
Step
3
Sniff
Let your dog sniff around the box and become familiar with it.
Step
4
Command
Use the command ‘use your box’ as he walks around. If he plays, take him out and try again later.
Step
5
Regular visits
Take him to the box on a regular basis, after meals, and upon waking. Repeat the ‘use your box' command each time you place him in the box.
Step
6
Accidents
Any time your dog has an accident, take him to the box for a reminder of what the box is for. Keep using the ‘use your box’ command.
Step
7
Treats
Give your dog a treat with every positive reaction to the litter box. Always reward with a special treat once your dog is successful.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Sophie
AnimalBreed object
6 Months
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Question
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Sophie
AnimalBreed object
6 Months

hello, I am litter box training my puppy. She will poop in the box but continues to pee on the pad that I place in the front of the litter box. Recently, I put her in the box and use command "go potty" she will urinate in the box. But the last 2 days when I do that first thing in the morning, she decides she wants to poop on the pad. Almost like she is telling me I don't want to pee and poo in the same place. Could it be the litter she doesnt like? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
674 Dog owners recommended

Hello Rita, First, take away the pee pads - as long as she has two options she is going to rotate between the two things - think about having two bathrooms in your house - you won't always go to the same one if you have two. Second, some pups don't like to soil somewhere that's already messy. Usually that's when something is very messy though - so i would just try taking away the pads and leaving the litter box first though, to see if that alone fixes the problem. If it doesn't, you may need a bigger litter box so she feels like she can soil on the opposite end away from the dirty area, or scoop more often if possible. This is more likely to be an issue with poop than pee though. If could be the litter itself. I would jump to that first, but it it something to maybe try changing. You could also try a litter that's less grainy like this one: https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/product/so-phresh-pellet-dog-litter-with-odor-control-paper-18-lbs-2732758?cm_mmc=PPC-Connexity-_-PTC_P_NTR_PPC-Connexity_FY18-Pet-AllProducts&szredirectid=15658399915504212657810070301008005 Finally, if you find she still isn't doing well in the box, you can try switching to a real grass pad - most puppies naturally like that texture better but it doesn't tend to cause the confusion that pee pads do. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Hi Caitlyn, thank you for responding. I have tried taking the pads away completely but she will pee on the floor in front of the box. I currently am using the paper pellet brand Purina second nature. So maybe I will try a different liter and remove the pee pads. Do you recommend any other type of liter?

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Question
Leia
AnimalBreed object
13 Weeks
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Question
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Leia
AnimalBreed object
13 Weeks

I’m want to start litter box training she’s already doing great with pee pad training although the pads have to be on a pillow. My husbands afraid she’s going to dig in the litter and make a mess. How can we prevent this?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
674 Dog owners recommended

Hello Veronica, First, you can supervise her when she goes potty while she is learning (which is important anyway to encourage the potty training). Whenever she starts to dig tell her "Ahah" firmly but very calmly - you don't want to scare hrr while she is learning, and redirect her to something else. Prevention is the most important thing here since potty habits are HABITS. Second, once she is trained to use an open litter box, you can switch to a litter box with a cover so that any litter scattered is contained within the box. I only recommend switching to one with a lid after she is using one without a lid well though because the lid makes the training a little harder at first. When you pick a litter box with a lid, choose one that is decently tall so that she doesn't feel enclosed too much or one that is see through if you can find it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Moon-cake
AnimalBreed object
3 Months
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Moon-cake
AnimalBreed object
3 Months

Hi , my puppy eats the litter and play and she poops on my kitchen floor and bathroom
How I can I train her and let her stop eating the litter ?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
674 Dog owners recommended

Hello Syaj, You can either use the crate training method from the article linked below and clap a little whenever she starts to try to eat the litter. The crate training method will ensure that she is never free when her bladder is full or she hasn't pooped yet that day, and most puppies will naturally hold it while in the confined space of the crate. You will take her to the litter box regularly and if she doesn't go potty, return her to the crate again and try again later. After she goes potty, you can give her an hour of freedom outside the crate before crating her again until time for the next potty trip - so that she is not loose while her bladder is full. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy If she is eating the poop in the litter vs. the litter itself, you can also deal with that by scooping it right after she goes potty but this requires close supervision. Sometimes adding plain canned pumpkin to your puppy's food can make the poop less appealing. There are also products you can add to your puppy's food to make the poop less appealing, look up coprophagia deterrent products - coprophagia is the official name for poop eating. If she is eating the litter itself, if you cannot supervise her each time she goes to the litter box and interrupt the behavior - using the crate training method, then you can train her to use a disposable real grass pad instead of litter right now. Place a grass pad inside a litter box type container without the lid on it and use the Exercise Pen method of Crate Training method from the article I linked above. When she is older and has learned to use the box, you can place a lid on the box and continue to reward her for going into it to go potty - if your goal is to use a lid at all. If you want to use litter once she is older and past the chewing and mouthing stages and is less likely to eat it, you can slowly transition to litter in the box by sprinkle it on top of the grass pad. Start with just sprinkling a bit of litter, and gradually sprinkle a thicker and thicker laying of it until she is going potty just on the litter and you can remove the grass pad from underneath the litter. Real grass pad: https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Patch-Disposable-Potty-Grass/dp/B005G7S6UI/ref=asc_df_B005G7S6UI/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=309763115430&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=1837541043519634476&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9010820&hvtargid=aud-643565131866:pla-568582223506&psc=1 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Tessa
AnimalBreed object
8 Years
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Tessa
AnimalBreed object
8 Years

Tessa was so easy too train.She uses the bathroom inside in a pad lined plastic box wit per pads and newspaper.She also uses it outside. Recently she uses the bathroom in the hall instead of her pan.She has been doing it for a week or so.What can I do to correct this problem.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Hello, the first thing I would do is call the vet. When there is a change in behavior like this, it is essential to rule out a medical problem. Things like a urinary tract infection may cause the problem - if there is pain associated with the litter, then it may cause Tessa to pee in places other than the box. Rule that out first. When you are cleaning the urine from the floor, use an enzymatic cleaner to make sure that you are removing all of the odor. We may not smell it and think the scent is gone, but a dog's sensitive nose will still smell it. Make sure that Tessa's box is not saturated; she may be avoiding it if the pads are too wet. Take a look here for pointers to reinforce the litter training: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy. You could also consider transitioning her to toileting outside only. Take her out very often to start and she may prefer going outside all of the time. Good luck!

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Finley
AnimalBreed object
4 Years
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Finley
AnimalBreed object
4 Years

Hi there!

Finley is my new rescue pup who is perfectly house trained. He will sleep on my bed all night for 9 hrs without needing to go potty. That being said, I live in an apartment and would like to get him used to a litter box with pee pad for late night pee breaks because I don't live in the safest of places. How do I get a perfectly trained pup to relearn his potty training? Will that ruin his prior training of not peeing everywhere in the house? I got some Nature's Miracle Go Potty spray but does not seem to be working either.

Thanks!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
674 Dog owners recommended

Hello Olivia, For a pup who is used to pottying exclusively outside, I suggest setting up an exercise pen in a room where he doesn't normally go, that doesn't have carpet or rugs - such as a guest bathroom, bathroom, walk-in closet, laundry room with appliances off, or balcony. Instead of using a pee pad - which will seem like carpet or clothing potentially to him, try using doggie litter or a disposable real grass pad. The disposable grass pad will most likely be the easiest, most natural transition for him, and still something that can be bought and used long term like pee pads. The main difference is that you use each one for up to two weeks - bagging poop, before throwing the entire pad away, to save money on pads since the initial cost is more expensive. With pup only going on it once a day, you might use each one longer - simply depending on how dirty it gets, some like porchpotty.com have trays and sprayers even to clean them. Place the grass pad or litter box in the exercise pen or small room where you wish for him to learn to go - just not in the main areas of the home he is used to keeping clean, and follow the Crate Training or Exercise Pen methods from the article linked below. Expect pup to hold it all day before finally going on the grass pad for the first couple of days - the key is to keep an eye on pup and be ready to reward them when they do finally go, so that they learn it's acceptable to go in the new spot. Setting it up in an area pup doesn't associate with the rest of the main living spaces, like the bathroom or balcony should also make this easier and cause less confusion with potty training in general. Finally, not using fabric pee pads period, should help pup tell the difference between their indoor potty and the rest of the house. Teaching a dog to go potty somewhere indoors isn't just about them learning to go on that pad, it's also them learning to go in a specific location, so once you choose a potty spot, keep that area consistent and don't simply lay down pads around the apartment. You want pup to learn that that one area is acceptable to go, but the rest of the home should be kept clean. If you move homes at some point, you can simply go back to the crate training or exercise pen method in the new home for 1-2 weeks to teach pup a new location there. Exercise Pen or Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Disposable real grass pad brands - also on Amazon - be sure to choose real grass not AstroTurf: www.doggielawn.com www.freshpatch.com www.porchpotty.com Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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