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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.
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 furball to use their 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.
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 your 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
Adopt a strict schedule
As soon as your pup wakes up, head to the box.
Plunk them in
Be sure to keep them there until they start to sniff and eventually pop a squat.
Make it rain treats!
Go over the top with praise so your dog sees it's fun to go in the box.
Set your watch
Bring the pooch back to the box every hour.
Go even sooner if the canine has had some food or water.
A few days of strict routine can be the perfect start to a life of litter boxing.
The Convenient Method
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.
Get him there
Encourage your pup to go there often throughout the day, and praise them for successful trips.
Make it fun
When your dog approaches the box on their own, praise them some more!
Keep it tidy
Clean up the box after each pee or poop to keep things smelling half decent.
Move the box
As your doggo catches on, you can slowly move the box to a more private location.
The Stinky Method
Get things ready
Set up your dog's new litter box.
Plant a smell
Take a towel that was used to clean up a previous pee and place it in the box.
If your dog left a little log on the floor, throw that in there as well. (Use gloves or a bag!)
Allow some smelling
Let the pooch sniff out the box. They'll begin to associate it with relieving himself.
Clean it up
Once he's consistently “going” in the box, begin to clean it regularly. They won't need his own stink anymore to show them where to eliminate.
By Abby Clark
Published: 10/20/2017, edited: 10/07/2022