Litter training -- it's not just for cats. If you have a small dog and don't have a backyard, litter or paper training is a good alternative when the weather's inclement. The actual training involved is similar for litter or paper use. Your choice might depend on cost and ease of use and cleaning.
They might be adorable and portable, but small breed dogs can be difficult to housebreak. That's partially because their bladders and bowels are smaller than standard-sized canines, but their metabolism requires more food on a pound-for-pound basis. If your mid-size canine needs a minimum of three outings a day to relieve himself, or once every eight hours, figure on twice that often for a little guy. If no one's available to take the dog out, training a small dog to use a litter box or to go on paper can eliminate many, if not all, "accidents."
Canine Litter Box
While cats take naturally to the litter box, that's not true for dogs. You'll have to train your buddy to eliminate in the box provided. Choose a large cat litter box or a box designed specifically for small dogs. Purchase litter developed for canine use -- the size of the litter is larger and absorbs somewhat differently than cat litter. If you share your home with a dog and cat, don't expect them to use the same facilities. If you have more than one small dog, get each a litter box to avoid scuffles over territory.
While newspapers might be going the way of the rotary-dial telephone, using them for potty-training is a good reason to get a subscription. You also can purchase absorbent doggy pee pads for your pet. Some of these pee pads include scents encouraging dogs to use them.
Place the dog litter box or papers in a convenient area. Your little dog isn't going to want to run to the depths of the basement every time she has to pee. Take her to the box or papers on a regular schedule, as well as if you see any indication that she needs to go. This behavior could include whining, circling or sniffing. Take her to the box or paper and use a command. "Go potty" is a perennial favorite. If she goes in the box or on the paper, lavish praise on her. If you leave the house, confine her to an area that includes the box or papers.
Training your dog to use litter or paper doesn't mean you skip training him to relieve himself outdoors. Praise him when he eliminates outside, so he knows the great outdoors is also his bathroom. Just remember that if you offer your dog a choice, you can't expect him to choose the park over the litter box.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.