How To Train A Dog To Use A Litter Box

In one of my previous posts, I discussed about how you can stop your dog from peeing inside your home. However, that post is concerned with getting your dog to pee outside. The problem with that is that there are situations where getting your dog to go and pee outside can be difficult or even impossible. One situation is if you are working late and can’t be home in time for one of your dog’s scheduled pee time.

Another one is if you happen to be living in a home where taking your dog outside to pee in a timely manner will be difficult such as an apartment or condo located in a skyscraper. So, you will need to come up with an alternative plan for where your dog can pee. That is where the litter box comes into play. With that in mind, I am going to show you how to train a dog to use a litter box.

(Photo courtesy of stephzerofour via Flickr)

1. Getting Your Litter Box Set Up

First, you will need to purchase a litter box if you don’t have one already. There are at least a couple things I would like to note about getting a litter box. You will want to ensure that the litter box will be big enough for your dog to turn around in. The sides of the litter box will ideally be low enough for your dog to enter by him/herself while at the same time being high enough that your dog won’t pee outside of it.

I definitely recommend that you get the PuppyGoHere Dog Litter Pan. It comes in the small, large, and extra large sizes. So, you should be able to find a size that is best suited to your dog’s particular size.

Now that you have a litter box, the trick is for you to find a spot within your home to put the litter box in. You will want to find a spot where your dog will easily be able to access the litter box while at the same time giving him/her enough privacy that you and/or your guests don’t need to watch him/her use it.

You don’t want to place the litter box near to where your dog’s food and water since he/she won’t rid him/herself of the waste in the same spot where he/she eats. Because you will need to clean up your dog’s wastes often, you may want a scoop that is dedicated to cleaning up the wastes from the litter box.

You also may want to consider placing a secondary trash can near the litter box so that you don’t have to go back and forward between the litter box and the primary trash can.

2. Getting Your Dog Familiar With The Litter Box

Now that you have bought and set up your litter box, it is time for you to get your dog familiarized with it. So, what you will be doing here is to get your dog to actually enter the litter box. Before your dog will use the litter box for eliminating his/her waste, he/she will need to be assured that it is ok for him/her to be inside there in the first place.

To get started, gently place your dog into the litter box to help encourage him/her to get inside it. As you are placing your dog into the litter box, use a command to go along with it. The best command I would suggest you to use with your dog entering the litter box is “use the box.” Once your dog is inside the litter box, praise him/her for simply being inside it. You can say something like “good boy” or “good girl.”

Now, just wait until your dog exits the litter box. Once your dog has left the litter box, continue to practice the same process with your dog until he/she starts to associate your command with getting into the litter box. Make sure that you praise your dog each time he/she enters the litter box when practicing. Your goal here is to get your dog to enter the litter box on your command alone, without you needing to put him/her inside it.

3. Getting Your Dog To Use The Litter Box

(Photo courtesy of Markus Trienke via Wikimedia)

Now that you have already trained your dog with the act of enter the litter box, the second part of the puzzle is to get him/her to actually use it. You will first need to be watching out for signs that your dog is getting ready to pee. Whining, pacing, sniffing around the house, circling, leaving the room, and walking to the door are all warning signs of your dog’s imminent need to eliminate.

As soon as you start to notice any of these signs, immediately send your dog to the litter box by giving him/her the use the box command. If for some reason, your dog accidentally pees or poops outside of the litter box, just pick up the pee or feces using something like a paper towel or a piece of newspaper and then carry it over to the litter box. That will show your dog where he/she should eliminate his waste next time.

Be sure that you praise your dog when he eliminates in the litter box. Also, you will want to clean up your dog’s wastes from the litter box every time he/she has used it as dogs don’t bury their wastes like cats do.

These are the steps that you can take for how to train a dog to use a litter box. Dogs can only hold so much in their bladders. So, if for some reason, it is impractical for you to take your dog outside to pee, then it makes sense to have a liter box handy for him/her to eliminate his/her waste in without having to be outside.

In order to make your dog’s peeing schedule more predictable, you will only want to provide your dog with food and drink during meals and not at any other time. Also, you will also want to empty your litter box entirely and clean it at least once a month. Oh and one more thing, if you are interested in learning about having your dog use a dog door as a way to get outside to eliminate, I encourage you to head here.

What are your thoughts? Does your dog use a litter box to rid him/herself of his/her waste? Feel free to leave a comment below.

5 thoughts on “How To Train A Dog To Use A Litter Box”

  1. I feel that there are no untrained dog but there are a lot of untrained people. And I am one that falls into that category. I was a bit frustrated because once I felt my dog had gotten familiar with the litter box, he still kept on not using it. I give my dog the box command but I must not be giving it correctly.

    Reply
    • I am sorry to hear that you hadn’t been able to get your dog to actually use the litter box. So, I hope that this article will help get you back on the right track for getting your dog to start using the litter box.

      Reply
  2. What a great article on how to train a dog using a litter box, if you things to be more neater and having to do less work to picking up every poop it does everywhere, maybe teaching your dog to use a litter box wouldn’t be so bad. If I were to ever get a dog I would definitely try doing this method first, if it doesn’t work then I guess I have to pick up the poop everywhere the dog goes. 

    Reply
    • Thank you! I am glad that you have found this article so that if you decide to get a dog as a pet, you can teach him/her to use the litter box by following the process here in this article. You will still want to clean the poop out of the litter box. But, having a litter box will ensure that the dog will only poop there and nowhere else.

      Reply

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