Puppy Litter Box vs. Grass Pads

by Jon Mohrman
Potty-training your puppy means finding something for her to pee and poop on.

Potty-training your puppy means finding something for her to pee and poop on.

Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Laziness is not a good reason for investing in an indoor doggy potty. Living on the 17th floor, or having a mobility issue that prevents you from taking your puppy outside consistently for bathroom breaks, is. Doggy litter boxes and grassy pads are both popular and appropriate indoor potty material for dogs. Each has advantages and drawbacks. Other options exist, too.

Litter Box

Litter boxes work well for puppies, offering clearly defined toilet areas, and their raised sides helping prevent urine or stool from getting on your floor. Litter boxes come in many sizes, so you can find something perfect for your young pooch. Numerous litters exist to choose from, most offering some degree of odor control. You can use cat litter, but dog litters are more suitable; they typically have larger bits to minimize tracking and better handle a dog's greater daily urinary volume. Litter boxes are generally easy to clean. Be proactive with cleanup, though. Sanitize the box at least once per week. Your puppy may be hesitant to climb into a pile of litter, though, which may lead to accidents, or she may decide to eat the litter or fling it all over the room.

Grass Pads

Grass pad potties may be a good option if your puppy goes to the bathroom outside sometimes, or if she'll be doing so in the future, according to The Housebreaking Bible. These are trays containing a layer of replaceable real sod or removable fake turf. Since they resemble the grass she relieves herself on outdoors, it helps reinforce the appropriate potty surface. Like litter boxes, grass pads provide a well-defined toilet area, but they don't offer as much protection against misses or spillover. You could place a grass pad, instead of litter, in a litter box, though. Washable turf surfaces are generally manageable to clean, but many are clunky to remove from the pan without spilling waste. Grass pads can become quite smelly if you don't tend to them regularly, too. Some puppies might find digging up real sod pads more fun than peeing or pooping on them.

Other Options

So-called pee pads or potty pads are another option to consider along with litter boxes and grass pads. These are absorbent and usually lined to protect your floors. But they're not without flaws. The underside lining makes them slide across surfaces, and they're easily shredded. They offer a clearly defined target but lack raised edges to prevent misses and spillover. Pee pads are readily available at pet stores at a wide range of prices; some of the more expensive ones have nifty features, such as a scent designed to attract your puppy to them for taking care of business. Then there's the old classic -- piles of newspaper. This is a cheap option, but it can be messy if your puppy plays with the paper, misses it when going, or you don't clean up before saturation occurs.

Your Puppy Isn't Using the Litter or Grass Pad

Whether you choose a litter box, grass pad or an alternative, you'll need to train your puppy to use it by leading her to the spot when she has to go, positively reinforcing use, and employing gentle correction when she goes in the wrong place. Obviously, it's no good if your puppy doesn't use her potty. Watch to see if she seems afraid of climbing into litter or otherwise hesitant about what you've provided. If so, try a different option. However, she may just not be fully potty trained yet; it typically takes at least one week for puppies to get the hang of it, but many take longer, and accidents are perfectly normal beyond that time. Be patient and don't punish. If your puppy continues to have problems using the potty, consult your vet. She may be drinking too much, suffering from an anxiety disorder or suffering from a health problem, such as urinary tract infection, diabetes, kidney or liver dysfunction, intestinal parasites, hormonal imbalance or something else.

Photo Credits

  • Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images

About the Author

Jon Mohrman has been a writer and editor for more than seven years. He specializes in food, travel and health topics. He attended the University of Pittsburgh for English literature and San Francisco State University for creative writing.

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