Dog Box Training: Dogs Can Use Litter Boxes, Too

Can dogs really learn to use a litter box? Sure! probably isn't something you'd find dog owners regularly talking about, and although it may be unusual, it does have some advantages. Plus litter box training can be done at home, by any patient and positive dog owner.

One of the biggest advantages to litter box training your dog is the added freedom: your dog can go any time he needs to, even when you're not at home. It's convenient for the dog, and gives you more freedom to stay out longer (ever rushed home because you had to let the dog out?). Of course, since using the litter box doesn't come as naturally to a dog as it does to a cat, you will need to be prepared for several weeks of training plus an additional couple of months of monitoring / reinforcement.

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There are lots of ways to to use the litter box. In general, though, here are a few things to think about:

  • Obviously you'll need a litter box. Get a dog litter box, jumbo cat box, or make one if you are handy.

    You may need to modify the box to suit your needs. High sides will help to prevent streaks from male dogs lifting their legs. An open top will make it easier to clean.

    Although the dogs that use litter boxes tend to be small breeds, large dogs can use them too! Try using a large plastic storage bin (modified to give your dog easy access to the inside).

  • Get some type of filler. Some people use the clumping cat litter, but many dogs are only too fond of "litter box crunchies"! Consider using other materials such as shredded newspaper (although this can get smelly and messy fast), or one of the many newer types of cat litter made from wheat, corn, or wood pellets. You can also try puppy training pads. These are scent pads used to encourage dogs to eliminate on them.

    Clean-up can be made easier by using litter box liners. Just tie up the liner with the used litter and discard.

  • Get a real big scoop for cleaning out the waste. One with higher sides will hold more.

  • For convenience, you may wish to put a heavy-duty garbage can nearby. Make sure it's solidly built with a secure lid that contains odors. Line it with a tough bag, and whenever you clean out the box you can dump it in the garbage can.

  • Clean, clean, clean. Dogs don't like to use a filthy litter box, so scoop regularly. Every week or two, toss everything in the box out and give it a thorough cleaning.

    Also make sure you have lots of cleaning supplies on hand. Get paper towels, odor and stain removers, bleach, etc. just in case your dog's aim is off. Laugh if you must, but accidents will happen!

  • Be consistent (and patient!). Dogs learn by being rewarded when they do something right. Reinforce the behavior you want (eliminating in the litter box), and monitor it carefully. If your dog relapses, start the box training over again.