How to Train Your Dog to Use A Litter Box

Medium
1-8 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Ah, the joys of getting a puppy! You and your family select your new little furball and get to enjoy the excitement of preparing for the pooch to come home. Heading to the pet store, you grab a little doggy bed, some cute, wee toys and a litter box. Wait, what?

Yes, you read that right. For the small breeds, a doggy litter box might just become your best friend. And thankfully, teaching a pup to use their box is about the same amount of work as teaching them to “go” outside.

Defining Tasks

Most of us have seen a kitty litter box, but doggy litter boxes are far and few between. They're similar in size and shape, although they usually have one side lowered for easy entry. You can fill them up with a variety of things, although word on the street is puppy pads or newspaper are the best options. Some even put down a little square of sod every few weeks to help their dog transition between indoor and outdoor bathroom breaks.

It's easier to train your little guy to use his box from birth, but mature dogs can learn too! It can take weeks or even months of persistence, but if you succeed, your pooch will have a convenient place to go without wrecking your home.

Getting Started

To help your pup make an easy switch to the litter box, it's good to be prepared. Remember, it can take some time to perfect, and even adult dogs may make the odd accident where they shouldn't. Good things to have for this task include:

  • A Litter Box: This one is obvious, but deciding which one to buy may take a bit more thought. Make sure your dog can get in and out of it with no problems.
  • Treats: Especially at the start, every successful trip to the box deserves a treat and lots of praise!
  • A Liner: As previously mentioned, you're going to want to put something inside the litter box to help contain the mess. Paper, puppy pads or even a patch of grass are great options.
  • Cleaning Supplies: There will be pee! And poop! At the start, be prepared to find messes on your floors. As the pup progresses, you'll have to get used to cleaning out the box.
  • Patience: Scrubbing nastiness out of your carpet isn't fun. But by setting a realistic expectation for the box-training process, you'll be more likely to stick with it.

Keep in mind, small dogs simply can't hold it as long as their larger cousins. Puppies are notoriously bad for this, but even fully grown minis have a hard time with accidents. A litter box can be the perfect solution to this problem, saving both of you from the unpleasantness of puddles and piles on the floor.

Below are some great methods for getting your pupper used to their box. If at first, you don't succeed, try another method! Different dogs respond to different things, so hang in there!

The Regimented Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Adopt a strict schedule
As soon as your pup wakes up, head to the box.
Step
2
Plunk him in
Be sure to keep him there until he starts to sniff and eventually pops a squat.
Step
3
Make it rain treats!
Go over the top with praise so your dog sees it's fun to go in the box.
Step
4
Set your watch
Bring the pooch back to the box every hour.
Step
5
Be aware
Go even sooner if the canine has had some food or water.
Step
6
Be consistent!
A few days of strict routine can be the perfect start to a life of litter boxing.
Recommend training method?

The Convenient Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Choose the right spot
Place the box near your puppy's bed, crate, or play area so that it is easily seen by the dog.
Step
2
Get him there
Encourage him to go there often throughout the day, and praise him for successful trips.
Step
3
Make it fun
When the dog approaches the box on his own, praise him some more!
Step
4
Keep it tidy
Clean up the box after each pee or poop to keep things smelling half decent.
Step
5
Move the box
As your doggo catches on, you can slowly move the box to a more private location.
Recommend training method?

The Stinky Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Get thingsready
Set up your dog's new litter box.
Step
2
Plant a smell
Take a towel that was used to clean up a previous pee and place it in the box.
Step
3
Use poop
If your dog left a little log on the floor, throw that in there as well. (Use gloves or a bag!)
Step
4
Allow some smelling
Let the pooch sniff out the box. He'll begin to associate it with relieving himself.
Step
5
Clean it up
Once he's consistently “going” in the box, begin to clean it regularly. He won't need his own stink anymore to show him where to eliminate.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Julio
Chihuahua
16 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Julio
Chihuahua
16 Months

I adopted my chihuahua about three months ago. I do not know much about his history. When he got to us he appeared to be semi potty trained and i have been working on him pottying outside. so far so good. he alerts me that he needs to go by going and standing in front of the door . He never barks though. I am now working on getting him to use a litter box as he can not make it through the night long enough to not interrupt my sleep. i have been putting the litter box outside, but he will not use it. I put him in the box he jumps out to pee so i put him back in mid stream. He will sniff the box and even lay on it, but not use it. So i took the litter out and used a pee pad thinking that maybe he didn't like the texture of the dog litter. I also have the spray to encourage him. I have put the box in his crate, but he has only used it twice when I overslept. I'm worried that even though he used it it was more of an "accident" than training. I've considered "oversleeping" more so that he will get used to the box, but I'm not sure this is the right thing to do . Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
64 Dog owners recommended

Hello Momo, If Julio is not having accidents and is going in the litter box during the morning when he really needs to go potty, then do the following. Set up an Exercise Pen with a bed for him that he will not pee on in one end and a litter box in the other end. Spray the litter with the encouraging spray. Set up a camera to watch him while you are in the bedroom or some other room out of sight. If he is likely to pee on a bed, then do not give him a bed at first. Place him into the Exercise Pen overnight or for a very long period of time during the day, until he is forced to use the litter box because he cannot hold his bladder any longer. When you see him go in the litter box on the camera from the other room, then quickly go to him, praise him enthusiastically, feed him several treats, one at a time, and then let him out of the Pen for a while. Start this process when you will be home most of the day, like on the weekend, so that you can catch him going potty on the camera at first. Only do this if he uses the litter box instead of the floor when he needs to go. After a couple of weeks of using the litter box in a row and being rewarded for it, he should gradually get used to the feeling of the litter and start going in the box more often to receive a treat when you are around. Once he is going in the box more often, then you can just use it at night for potty trips. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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