Although the notion of training a puppy to use a litter box to eliminate may seem a little unusual, it can definitely be accomplished, especially in smaller canines. As with standard housetraining, litter box training requires a little patience and dedication on your part, not to mention lots of love.
"Standard" canine housetraining involves taking your puppy outside once he's all through with eating, and you can do the same with litter box training. As soon as your puppy is done chowing down and drinking H20, guide him to his litter pan and then encourage him to go inside of it. Like clockwork, puppies usually have to eliminate quickly after drinking and eating -- anywhere between 5 minutes and half an hour. Once your pet is comfortably inside of the box, indicate to him that you want him to use it by employing a key instruction such as "Bathroom time." It also is useful to lead your pup to the litter box at other key points throughout his day -- for instance, right after napping.
Once your puppy has gone to the bathroom inside of the litter box, make sure he knows that he did a good thing by enthusiastically petting him, saying "Good boy" in a soft and sweet voice and even giving him a yummy doggie snack reward. If your puppy's brain links using the litter box to lots of positive attention from you combined with exciting treats, that provides him with a strong incentive to use it again -- and routinely.
Unlike their feline counterparts, dogs who use boxes aren't usually too choosy in the litter department. They generally manage well with everything from clay litter to shredded newspaper. Paper-based litter that is formulated specifically for dog use is also readily available commercially. Regularity in litter choice is key to promoting litter box use in canines, however. Avoid switching up the litter all of the time. Stick with something that works for your dog and don't confuse the poor thing by changing it frequently.
Slightly Soiled Litter
Initially, you might want to always keep your puppy's litter pan slightly soiled. Dogs have a habit of eliminating in areas they've used previously. If the box is a tad soiled, your puppy will recognize that and hopefully use it again. Once your dog is used to the litter box, however, you can keep it spotlessly clean and immaculate.
Although exclusive litter box use is appropriate for many cats, things aren't the same for dogs. If you litter train your puppy, do so as a way of making his life easier. If you're stuck in traffic for an extra hour on the way back from a visit to a friend's house, a litter box makes it so that your pooch doesn't have to hold everything in uncomfortably. It's still extremely important to regularly take your puppy outside to eliminate, just as with all other dogs. Remember, daily physical fitness is a must for all canines. Litter box use is no match for the benefits of exercise and the outdoor landscape.
- Animal Planet: Train Small Dogs to Use the Litter Box
- American Animal Hospital Association Healthy Pet: Can I Train My Dog to Use a Litter Box?
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: House Training Your Puppy
- The Humane Society of the United States: Housetraining Your Dog or Puppy