Your Guide to Litter Box Training for Dogs

Many owners are choosing litter box training for dogs as the ultimate solution for their busy lifestyles. And why not? There are many advantages in using a litter box for dogs.

In a perfect world, a dog should ideally be trained to eliminate outdoors; however, at times there is no choice and intermediate steps must be taken when appropriate.

Some owners resort to paper training, a very popular house training method. But in my opinion, training your dog to eliminate in a litter box offers numerous advantages.

Learning how to correctly train a dog to use a litter box is important so to maximize the odds for success and help the dog get used to the idea of using an "indoor bathroom."

Who Should Consider Litter Box Training for Dogs?

If you work a full-time job, housetraining a puppy or adult dog is an almost inconceivable project. Young puppies, in particular, have very tiny bladders, requiring countless trips outdoors. In such a case, an indoor litter box brings dogs and owners to a compromise: The owners no longer need to worry about scheduled trips outdoors, while dogs can eliminate as often as needed since the potty area is readily available.

Litter box training for dogs also eliminates the problem of adult dogs holding it all day, while waiting for the owner's return. Holding it for too long may lead to the urine becoming too concentrated, which may cause annoying urinary tract infections.

A dog litter box may, therefore, reduce your dog's exposure to such health risks. Best of all, litter box training for dogs means no more trips outside in bad weather, no more muddy paw prints all over the floor and no more early wake-up calls on Sunday mornings when you may wish to sleep in.

Litter Box Training for Dogs

A Guide to Litter Box Training for Dog

To get started, you will obviously need a litter box made specifically for dogs and a bag of litter. Several companies produce litter boxes purposely crafted for dogs. However, some dog owners have had success using a large cat litter box or any large container with a low entrance for easy access.

You will also need to use an area made of tiles, linoleum or other easy-to-clean surface. Other items needed include baby gates, a crate of the right size lined up with soft bedding and a good dog urine cleaner.

  1. Successful litter box training for dogs starts by creating a manageable area for your puppy or dog. It is important to choose an area where your puppy will not feel too isolated. Generally, many dog owners choose to confine their dog in a bathroom, small section of the kitchen, laundry room or hallway. Once you have chosen an area, install the baby gates.
  2. Within the baby gates, place your litter box pan filled with litter in a corner. At the opposite corner, about 3 to 4 feet away, place your dog's food and water bowl along with the crate. The correct placement of these items is crucial because dogs by nature do not like to eliminate near their food, toys and sleeping areas.
  3. Introduce your puppy or dog to his new area and watch him carefully. You may want to take a few days off or perhaps start during a long weekend. If this is not feasible, enlist the help of a neighbor or a friend for the first few days.
  4. When your puppy eliminates in the litter box, make sure you are there to promptly praise and reward him. If you catch your puppy in the act of going elsewhere, interrupt him by saying "ah ah!" and picking him up. Then, swiftly and gently place your puppy in the litter box to finish up his business. Praise lavishly and reward once he does.
  5. Monitoring your puppy during the times he may be more likely to eliminate is crucial in the initial stages of litter box training for dogs. Puppies tend to eliminate after taking a nap in their crates, eating and drinking and throughout the day at different intervals depending on your puppy's age. If your puppy is very young, you may need to guide him to the litter box every hour or two. The more you supervise, the less chances for mistakes.
  6. Introduce a cue when your puppy is beginning the elimination process. This will help the process of litter box training for dogs go more smoothly. Some dog owners like to use the cues "go potty" or "hurry up." After some time, your dog will learn to associate the verbal cue with the process of eliminating.
  7. Continue monitoring for the rest of the weekend and make sure you always praise and reward your dog for using the litter box correctly. Make sure to continue the process in the morning and evening when you come home from work, up until when your puppy or dog becomes more reliable in using the litter pan.

How to Transition To and From a Dog Litter Box

If your puppy was housetrained using the paper training method and you wish to transition to a dog litter box, there are some strategies that will help make the process of litter box training for dogs easier.

Try spreading some newspapers on top of the litter so it looks familiar. To make it even easier, use some newspapers your dog has already eliminated on. This way, your puppy will sniff it and recognize it as his potty area. Gradually, add more litter and reduce the amount of paper over the course of about 2 weeks.

On the other hand, if you are planning to transition to an outdoor area, consider mimicking the outdoor area your dog will be using in the future. For instance, if you are planning to have him to use a grassy area, place some grass turf inside the box. If you will be using an area with pebbles, place some pebbles instead. This will help your puppy familiarize with the outdoor surface he will be using in the near future.

Take your puppy or dog to the same outdoor area each day and remember to always use your familiar verbal cue used to train your dog to go potty on command. This will further help your dog generalize the act of eliminating from one potty area to another.

Here is a brief video that talks about some of the things we just covered in this article...

Final Thoughts...

While a dog litter box is ideal for young puppies, it is important to note that litter box training for dogs is a process that can be also successfully used with older dogs that are not yet housebroken. Obviously, in this case, older dogs have much better bladder and bowel control and will not need to be monitored closely every hour around the clock as with younger puppies.

Whether you are a busy pet parent working a full-time job or a new puppy owner looking for an alternative to taking your puppy outside every hour in freezing temperatures, litter box training for dogs may be the ultimate solution for you.

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