One of the big differences between owning a cat or a dog is the responsibility you as an owner have when it comes to them needing to use the bathroom. Most cats conveniently use a litter box that you’re able to simply clean out once or twice a day, on an as-needed basis, whereas dogs require being taken for a walk so they can handle their business outside.
Well, what if you’re a loving dog owner that has recently had to relocate to a big city for work and now live on the 27th floor of a high rise apartment building in the center of the city? Taking Fido out multiple times a day so he can relieve himself just doesn’t seem realistic, now does it? So what options are you left with?
Well, over the course of history, litter box training has typically been associated with cats, but fortunately, it can also be for dogs! Given how intelligent dogs are, they are more than capable of learning how to use a litter box similar to cats.
What Does a Dog Litter Box Look Like?
Dog litter box training is very similar to litter box training for cats. The concept is the same. The execution is just a little bit different. Cat litter boxes are pretty standard across the board. They consist of a small plastic box, sometimes with a roof, filled with litter. The litter soaks up and is able to cover up the smell of cat urine and droppings, making litter boxes much more pleasant to have in your home.
Dog litter boxes, on the other hand, look a little different. Rather than having a box filled with litter, dog litter boxes are a little bit larger and typically consist of a flat area that is covered in artificial or even real grass. The goal is to replicate a familiar atmosphere to what they’re used to. You can do so by adding something like a small plastic fire hydrant to the area if your dog normally pees by a fire hydrant.
Instead of litter clumping together in the area where the animal has relieved themselves, a dog litter box, depending on what kind you have, operates a little bit differently. When a dog pees, the litter box is designed to make any liquid spilled on it flow through holes strategically poked throughout the patch of grass, (whether real or synthetic) into the plastic base underneath. Some litter boxes will have the plastic base designed as a funnel, directing any liquid to a hole at the bottom. This hole at the bottom can either have a hose attached to it, or it can lead to an empty basin, which would gather any liquid that makes its way to it.
After your dog has used the litter box, you’ll want to clean it. The cleaning process includes watering the grass. This can be done by using something like a watering can. The water flushes through the grass and takes the same path as previously mentioned, winding up at the bottom of the basin, cleaning the grass during the process, and flushing any leftover waste out with it. There are also more expensive litter boxes that have a pre-programmed sprinkler system implemented into the litter box and it does this step of the cleaning process for you.
If you don’t have a hose attached to the hole at the bottom which immediately disposes of any waste, then at the end of every day, you can simply take the basin from the underneath and dispose of it yourself. When it comes to any solid waste, it can just be picked up and disposed of just as you would do if outside.
Dog Litter Box Training Tips
These tips can be applied to a young puppy or even a fully grown dog in order to train them to effectively use a litter box.
- Find an enclosed area within your home that you can cover in either pee pads or newspapers
- Give your dog plenty of water to drink
- Place your dog in their crate for 20-30 minutes and then let them out in the area for five minutes to see if they go to the bathroom. If they do, reward them with treats and time outside of the crate. If not, repeat the process again beginning with 20-30 minutes in the crate
- Continue this process. Once your dog is consistently pottying on the pee pads, reduce the size of the area in which they’re allowed to pee
- Once they’re pottying in the smaller area, transfer the pads to your litter box so as to communicate to your dog that this is where you want them to potty now
- Work on getting your dog to use the litter box to go potty
- Using real grass in the litter box will make it more likely that they potty there as it reminds them of the outdoors
You should note that this process won’t happen overnight and will take some time. Encouragement and rewarding your dog for pottying in the proper place is crucial, as this will reinforce the positive behavior for them and allow it to develop into a habit.
Benefits of Dog Litter Box Training for Dogs and Owners
There are plenty of benefits for both dogs and their owners when it comes to dog litter box training. The first of which, and the most important is being able to relieve themselves whenever they need to, and not necessarily when you’re ready for them to. This lessens the stress of having to hold it in until they’re taken outside. Not being able to go to the bathroom when they need to can result in various health problems.