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Teaching a small dog to use a litter box

Sunday, October 30, 2011
posted by Jim Murphy

The snowstorm that blanketed the northeast yesterday made it difficult for some to walk their dogs. I bet lots of you just wished that your dog could use a cats litter pan. The fact is that if you have a small dog, it is possible to train him to use a litter pan. Of course, long walks are good for a dog, but in cold, wet, snowy weather, it is actually more humane to have him just use a litter box.

How might your  house-trained dog learn to use an indoor litter pan? First, consider the surface on which your dog most often urinates or defecates outdoors. If she’s partial to grass or asphalt, using a similar surface would be best. Clay-based litter may be a reasonable substitute for asphalt or gravel but you may literally have to provide an indoor grassy surface – at least initially – for a dog that’s used to urinated in the yard.

For puppies, consider the times your dog’s most likely to urinate or defecate; instead of taking her outside take her to the litter box instead.  Praise her and reward her with a dog treat when she goes in the pan.

If your dog happens to eliminate in the house but in an inappropriate spot (while you’re home), clap your hands to interrupt her and take her quickly to the desired location immediately. Any elimination in the pan should be  praised and otherwise rewarded the at the time that it happens. It also may be helpful to reward even mild interest and sniffing in the vicinity of the new “toilet.”

Keep in mind that you may not be able to train some dogs to use a litter pan. Some small dogs may be trained but remember, they must also be housebroken and go outdoors. You have a dual job ahead of you. Good luck! Remember, your pets count.



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