How to Litter Box Train Your Puppy

I wasn't sure that training my puppy to use a litter box would work, but he took to it easily. Here's how I did it.

I've Successfully Litter-Box-Trained My Dog

I have personally done this, so what you’re about to read is my own experience. Why? Because they like having their own special place to potty. Just watch the next time you see a dog outside. Dogs have a tendency to poo in the same place each time.

How to Train Your Dog to Use a Litter Box

Here's what you will need to get started:

Litter Box (or Something Larger)

I have a medium-sized dog and went with a crate-like box. It was about 3 inches deep. The important thing is you use something the puppy can EASILY climb into. You don’t want to set them up for failure by asking them to use an insurmountable obstacle. But neither do you want something that’s going to make a mess of your kitchen, or wherever you put the box.

As he gets older, he may need a slightly bigger box. You can visit your local Home Depot and pick something up, it’s not hard to be creative in this area.

Dog-Safe Litter

Don't use the litter crystals you use for Garfield. Don't use clumping litter. Don't use any type of cat litter unless its 100% natural. Puppies eat everything, you don’t want him eating that. Go to the pet shop and get some Rabbit bedding, the compressed sawdust kind. It’s pellet-shaped and dissolves on contact with anything wet. That means if Fido eats this, it won’t harm him, nor will you have to worry about him choking on it.

Also, don’t overfill the box. You only need a layer about 2 inches deep, maybe a bit less.


Once he knows you want him to use the box, he will try, but he might not always make it. If he starts tinkling as he nears the box, you still want him going on anything other than your floors. This is not just for aesthetic purposes, you don’t want him thinking it’s ok to potty on your tile or carpet. It’s ok, however, if he thinks newspaper is an acceptable alternative because the newspaper will only be near the box.

Pet Stain Remover

I recommend this as opposed to your regular household cleaner because it really gets rid of the pet odor, and they won’t want to potty in the same place once you’ve cleaned it with something intended for that.

Plastic Fencing (or Similar)

Fencing isn’t a good word, but I don’t know how else to describe it. I used plastic paneling I bought at a DIY place and then formed a circle around the box. You don’t need this, but it helps to keep everything tidy. They held the newspaper in one place and gave my dog a target area. And on the rare occasion litter went flying, it didn’t fly very far.


  • Lead your puppy to the box as often as possible. Put him inside of it. Let him feel the pellets under his feet – this is important, as he will begin to associate this feeling with pottying, and will realize tiles and carpet do NOT feel the same way as the area he’s expected to potty in.
  • What about boy puppies—won’t they lift their leg and pee all over the box? No, male puppies don’t start lifting their legs until they’re closer to a year, and some not until much later – and some never do. He’ll be potty trained before he starts to do this.
  • Tell him to “Go potty” or something similar, and when he does, praise him for it immediately. Meaning, while he's going potty, not after. Tell him, “Good boy, go potty” several times, and eventually he will learn that you like it when he potties in the box. You should also be doing this when he potties outside.
  • If he potties elsewhere, you need to consider the why. Was he on his way to the litter box and just couldn’t get there in time? In this case, I would just pick him up and put him in the box and praise him once he’s there. If he just squatted and tinkled on your carpet without even glancing at the box, I’d say “NO!” very firmly, and pick him up and take him to the box immediately. If he continues to potty IN the box, lots of praising should follow. If not, eh, you have to let it go. Do NOT hit him! I will get very mad at you if you do!

Dog Trained to Use Litter Box

Common Issues to Address

How will I make the transition from box to outside?

Your dog should still be pottying outside when you walk him, but will probably be using the box more often than not. I weaned this habit by moving the box to the balcony. Once the dog realizes the box is outside, they learn to ask to be allowed out. When they are at the door, ask them, “Do you want to go potty?” or something along those lines.

When they do go outside and use the box, praise, praise, praise. Doesn’t take long to make the transition at all. If you don’t have a balcony, you can do this by keeping an eye on Fido. When he heads for the box, intercept him and take him outside immediately, asking him the same thing I recommended above.

Can I use this as his primary means of pottying when he’s an adult?

That should not be your goal. However, if you work all day this is a helpful backup so your dog doesn’t have to hold it forever. But I have to say, you really shouldn’t have a dog at all, if that’s the norm for you. That said, if your dog gets a lot of exercise before and after your job, I guess it would be a good solution for you.

Do not have ridiculous expectations!

This is as much a physiological issue as it is training. He will not be able to hold it until his bladder muscles are fully developed. Generally, that’s 2 hours for every month—but that’s not a guarantee, by any means. Also, excitement plays a major role in this. My dog was potty trained very quickly, but still tinkled once in a while if really excited to see new people. It’s just something you have to deal with.

Share Your Experience and Tips Below

There you are: How to litter box train a puppy. It works, I promise. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments. I’ll do my best to answer them.

© 2007 Isabella Snow

From Crate To Litter Box

Crate training your dog to use the litter box is a lot like crate training your dog to go potty outside. Follow these steps to crate train your dog into using the litter box.

1. Assemble A Crate Area

Crate training with litter doesn't usually involve a crate. Instead, you'll need to create a crate "area" for the dog that will consist of the litter box, some bedding, and food and water. The only place for your dog to go to the bathroom should be the litter box. If his crate area is rather large, find a safe material to fill up the empty space that he won't be able to go to the bathroom on.

Whatever material you use for the crate area should be sturdy, and difficult for your dog to escape from or injure himself on. You can purchase a dog pen for this purchase, or use a child safety gate in and enclosed area. The crate area shouldn't have a lot of room for your dog to move around in, so it's important that he has plenty of monitored exercise time outside of the crate area as well.

During any time your dog would usually go to the bathroom, place him in the crate area and use the keyphrase "use the box". Be sure to leave the dog in the crate area until he uses the litter.

3. Stay Nearby And Offer Praise

The Happy Puppy: Image by ChrisGampat, Flickr

While your dog is in the crate area during his bathroom time, do your best to stay in the area so you can praise him when he uses the litter box. If you see him use the box, praise him, and offer him a nice treat. Be sure to use the keyphrase frequently while you're with him until he uses the litter box to do his business.

When you have to leave, or during any time you can't monitor your dog, it's best to keep him in the crate area so you can rest assured that he'll go in the litter box and not on the floor when he needs to go to the bathroom.

4. If The Dog Uses His Bedding

If your dog has an accident on his bedding instead of in the litter box, it's important to get the soiled area clean quickly. Wash it thoroughly and use a good stain and odor remover, or replace the bedding entirely. Try sprinkling bits of food or treats on the bedding area as well. If there is food and treats in the area, your dog will be much less likely to have an accident there.

5. Leaving The Crate Area Open

Once your dog is using the litter box without a problem, you can begin leaving the crate door open around bathroom time. Use the keyphrase, and encourage the dog to use the litter box while the door is open.

6. Walking With The Dog

With time, you'll be able to walk with your dog into the room and use the keyphrase. If the dog is ready, he should walk into the crate area and use the litter box on his own. After doing this for a short while, your dog will learn to walk to the litter box on his own from any part of the house when he needs to use the bathroom, and he'll be completely litter trained.

After following these steps, you should have a happy, litter trained dog. This will be handy whenever you're gone or asleep, as your dog will be able to go to the bathroom at his own convenience.

Also Read: Paper To Litter Box: How To Litter Train A Dog to learn another litter training method.

How to Teach a Puppy to Use the Sandbox

How to Teach a Puppy to Use the Sandbox –В Do you have a dog of a small breed? So it’s interesting to teach him to use the litter box!

Do you want to train your dog and do not know where to start? Click and see my method today!

Training a puppy dog to use a litter box is not so different from the usual home training methods. The secret of all is to remain calm and have discipline. Repeating several times is the key to success for this exercise.

The problem is that the puppies do not enter the litter box as easily as the cats do. But the boxes are much better than using the newspapers or sanitary pads and end up being more useful, especially when the owner needs to leave or for those who live in the apartment and do not have a garden or terrace for the dog to do their needs.

How to Teach a Puppy to Use the Sandbox

How to teach a dog to use the litter box?

The idea of ​​teaching a dog to use a litter box may seem strange to some people. But the principle is the same as educating him to relieve himself on the street. It is about transmitting to our colleagues the rules of hygiene and good coexistence that we want to adopt in our home.

We must take into account the importance of educating in a positive way and respecting the learning times of each dog. Regardless of what we intend to teach them, it will be essential to apply positive reinforcement to recognize their effort and stimulate their learning.

Abusive or violent methods are counterproductive and harm the health of our pets positive reinforcement is always much more effective.

Getting Started

If you choose to train your large dog to use a litter box, be sure you have it set up and ready to go before you begin training. It will be best if you pick a confined area within your home that your dog can rely on anytime he needs to go. This means the area needs to be kept clean and cannot change from day-to-day or week-to-week. Be ready for some potty training exercises and lots of rewards for making it to the litter box and not having accidents in the house during training and while you are away from the house.

Litter Box Training Your Small Dog

You may know from experience that it can be quite a challenge to potty train a small dog. Small dogs have smaller bowels and bladders, yet have to process more food and water for their size than larger dogs. As a result, they may need to eliminate more often—and that means more responsibility for you. It's not surprising that house-training failure is the #1 reason small dogs lose their homes.

That's why many owners of small dogs have adopted the litter box as their training method of choice. Those who support litter box training say it can virtually eliminate "accidents" since these dogs are free to go to the bathroom anytime during the day as needed. Litter box training provides greater convenience for owners, too. There are no inconvenient trips outside, no braving the cold, wind, and rain, and no tracking in dirt and mud. Owners simply clean the litter box once a day.

How to start litter box training

Look for a litter box designed especially for small dogs—they're available through most pet retailers. You can also use a large cat litter box, or use almost any type of low, open plastic container. You'll also need bags of litter.

Just as in outdoor training, you should take your dog to the litter box when he first wakes up, after he's eaten, and periodically throughout the day. Watch him carefully for signs that he needs to go, such as sniffing around or circling, and quickly take him to the litter box. Always immediately praise him enthusiastically if he goes in the right spot. As with any type of house- training, accidents may happen. Be prepared with cleaning supplies and a generous amount of patience.

The bottom line

Keep in mind that dogs do not have the instinctive behaviors of cats for using a litter box and burying their waste. While many dog owners succeed with litter box training, you need to be aware of the risk: some litter box-trained dogs may continue to have accidents off and on for life. If possible, also train your young dog to eliminate outdoors on grass, sod, or other outdoor surfaces. This can provide essential house-training insurance for down the road.

Watch the video: How to potty train your puppy to use puppy pads (July 2021).