The idea of training your small dog to use a litter box like a cat might be a tall order since dogs do not have the instinctive behaviors of cats for using a litter box and burying their waste. While it takes time and patience to teach your dog to go potty indoors, it can be done.
By observing your dog carefully to see when she needs to eliminate, providing her with plenty of opportunities to eliminate in the right place, rewarding all incidents of desired litter-box toileting, and cleaning up accidents quickly when they occur, your dog should be using her litter box reliably in short order.
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.
At its most basic, the box should be large enough for your dog to turn around in comfortably. The sides of the box should be low enough for her to climb in by herself; however, if your dog is of the male persuasion, make sure the sides are high enough to catch the results of enthusiastic leg-lifting.
You’ll also need bags of dog litter. For DIY odour control, sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of the box each time you empty it.
So how do you convince your dog to use a litter box?
Just as in outdoor training, you should take your dog to the litter box when she first wakes up, after she’s eaten, and periodically throughout the day.
Watch for the signs
Watch her carefully for signs that she needs to go, such as sniffing around or circling, and quickly take him to the litter box.
Clean up accidents thoroughly
As with any type of house- training, accidents may happen. The scent of previous elimination at a particular site is an olfactory cue for continuing elimination in the same spot. Be prepared with cleaning supplies and a generous amount of patience.
Reward, reward, reward!
Always immediately praise her enthusiastically if she goes in the right spot. You’ll need to spend several weeks offering positive reinforcement when she uses it.
Training your dog to use a litter box is convenient, especially for apartment dwellers or those who don’t have the luxury of a fenced yard in which a small dog can run and poop freely.