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For some dog owners, especially those with very small dogs (with even smaller bladders), or those living in high-rise apartment buildings, training your dog to “do the deed” in a litterbox is a great alternative taking several flights of stairs a zillion times a day. Litter-training your dog is not impossible but, like housebreaking, it will take dedication and some hard work from you. With just a few basic training techniques, your pooch will soon learn how to take himself to the bathroom without your help.
Using a litterbox isn’t natural for dogs, like it is for cats. But, there are dog-appropriate boxes available with a little searching. You can even find one that resembles a small patch of grass. Try to avoid a cat litterbox (and cat litter) as the clay, dust, and fragrances used can be harmful to your little dog.
1. Litter training normally begins by finding the right location to place the litterbox. Ideally, it should be placed in a well-ventilated spot with a floor that’s easy to clean. If possible, do not place the box on a carpeted area as accident clean-ups will not be easy.
2. Limiting the area in which your dog roams until he is well trained to use the box is important. During the training period, your dog should always be near the litter box or be in your sight. This way, you can monitor him constantly. You may want to try putting up gates or shutting doors when necessary.
3. Recognizing the common signs that your dog needs to go potty is crucial. If you see him circling and sniffing around, immediately take him to the box area as these could be signs that it’s time to “go.”
4. Decide on a key word or group of words to repeat each time he needs to go. Consider “Potty”, or “Go pee.” After a while, he will associate these words with the act of going and you can even get him to go on command.
5. During the training period, expect your dog to have accidents. When he does, clap loudly, and then say firmly, “No,” to get his attention. Then, quickly move him to the box. Be firm but calm with your dog. You don’t want to frighten him during training as this could set back your progress.
6. Once your dog goes in his litter box, give him treats and praise him with lots of affection. This way, he will learn to associate the box with good feelings.
7. Try soaking a paper towel with your dog’s urine and then place it in the box. This way, your dog will smell his own waste and will be more likely to return to that spot to go again.
8. Do not forget to clean any accidents thoroughly. Look for cleaning products especially designed for pet accidents. Dogs can smell things that humans can’t. If your dog’s scent remains, he will go to that place to go again.
9. Remember to familiarize your dog with the litterbox throughout the day. Put him inside the box, say the key word, and then praise him. After some time, you will see your pooch going in the litter box all on his own once you say the verbal command.