Can You Train a Dog to Use a Litter Box: Simple Guide

Training your dog can be an emotional rollercoaster, with multiple successes mixed with periods of failure before finally achieving the intended result. For example, some dogs enjoy going outside to relieve themselves, but others may oppose the idea. So, can you train a dog to use a litter box?

Yes! If you live in a big apartment complex or are away from home for long periods, litter box training may be better. Some dog breeds are adaptable to litter box training, and others are not easy to train. Some breeds may take several months to adjust, but most puppies and older dogs will ultimately get the hang of it.

Litter box training a dog hasn’t been a popular practice throughout history, and it’s usually reserved for cats. Fortunately, given their intelligence, dogs are more than capable of learning how to use a litter box in the same way that their cat counterparts do.


Does Litter Box Training a Dog Work?

While the answer to the question “ can you train a dog to use a litter box” is a sounding yes, litter box training is a skill that some dog breeds excel at. 

The method is very similar to teaching a cat to use the bathroom by supplying them with a wide tray. If you use a lot of positive reinforcement with your dog during this process, it may be a great experience.

It’s important to remember that dogs lack the innate instincts of cats when it comes to using a litter box and burying their waste. While many dog owners have success with litter box training, you should be aware of the risk: some litter box-trained dogs may have accidents regularly for the rest of their lives.


How Do You Litter Train a Dog

There are three main methods used to litter train your dog, including;

  • Crate training
  • Paper training
  • Indoor training

I. Crate Training 

Many people who are new to dogs are uncomfortable with the concept of restricting their puppies in a crate, but this resistance usually fades after a few days of living with a new pet. Crates for dogs make life easier. Here is how to do it;

1. Setting Up

The bottom crate liner tray can be used as a litter box for your dog. Whether you would like to use the crate or keep the tray in the same spot without the crate box on top.

Fill the bottom of the dish with a fine layer of kitty litter. You don’t want the litter to be higher than the crate tray’s sides to keep the mess contained.

2. Getting Your Dog Used to the Box

Wait till your dog needs to go to the bathroom. Dogs will let you know they want to go pee by barking or heading to the door to go outside as they do. You may also introduce the new litter box when he wakes up or around 10 minutes after meals.

3. Training

Take your dog over to the new litter box and use the command words you taught him when you were training him to go outside, for example, ‘let’s go potty’ or ‘do you need to go potty?’ 

Use the essential phrases he associated with going pee the entire time you’re leading him inside the box. Celebrate with a reward and verbal praise if your dog goes to this new place and utilizes the litter box to pee.

4. Practicing

If your large dog has an accident indoors, simply redirect him right away or when you get home. Take the dog to the litter box, remind him of its purpose, and then treat him. Do not scold or slap your dog, rebuke him in a loud, angry voice, rub his nose in his accidents, or scold or hit him. These approaches are ineffective and sometimes harmful.

Remember that practice makes perfect, whether house training your large dog for the first time or retraining him to be using a litter box rather than going outside. You’ll need to show him and remind him where his litter box is. 

II. Paper Training 

Set up a paper-lined space in your home using a huge cardboard box with low edges. Allow your dog to be sniffing around the area as you walk him around. Pay attention to the body language when your dog has to go pee, such as 15 minutes after eating, right after he wakes up from an overnight nap, or after a long period of play. 

Bring him to his newspaper-lined box and urge him to go pee inside. Celebrate, give him a reward, and tell him what a wonderful boy he is if he needs to go pee and marks the newspaper.

III. Indoor Training

For a large dog, this must be a litter box in which he can stand and turn around. Make sure the edges aren’t too high, so he doesn’t trip when stepping into the box. Also, make sure the litter isn’t too thick inside.

Get your dog interested in going potty by talking to him. If he’s used to stepping outside through the door, walk beside him but don’t open it. Take the dog to the box and stand on one side, holding two rewards.

Place one goodie on top of the box to entice him inside. Give him the treat after he’s in, and apply the verbal toilet cues again. If your dog has to go pee, he may begin to sniff or circle, signaling that he’s ready. Again, use mild verbal signals to encourage him.

Celebrate with the second treat and lots of vocal praise once your dog has gone potty in his litter box.


Pros and Cons of Litter Box Training


  • Easy to find all the supplies you need
  • Great for both liquid and solid waste
  • Reduce the urine odors and stains
  • Great for large dogs with bladder control challenges
  • Several different types of litter boxes are available


  • Best for small breeds only
  • Regular cleaning and maintenance are needed to avoid odors in the litter box.

Frequently Asked Questions on Litter Box Training

1. What breeds of dogs can use a litter box?

The following are the best dog breeds for litter training. Of course, even if your dog isn’t on the list, that doesn’t rule out the possibility of training. These are, nevertheless, the simplest dog breeds to educate to use a litter box.

  • Maltese
  • Miniature Schnauzer 
  • English Bulldog 
  • Shih Tzu 
  • Border Collie 
  • Pug 
  • Chow Chow 
  • Shiba Inu 

2. What is the hardest dog to potty or house train?

  • Beagle
  • American Foxhound
  • English Bulldog
  • Biewer Terrier
  • Chihuahua
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Dachshund

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