Dog litter? Really? No, only cats use a litter box . . . right? If you have grown up with cats in your home, or maybe just got a cat a few years ago, you are likely familiar with the routine of a litter box, training a cat to use one and keeping it clean.
Meanwhile, having a dog meant you would be going walks and making sure business is done outside, and you definitely were trying to prevent accidents happening in the house.
There may be times, though, where you can’t be there right away to take your dog outside. What if you could have a litter box solution for your dog to use when you can’t be there to take him outside?
You may be thinking that litter boxes aren’t for dogs, but more and more families are using them to keep mess to a minimum and give their dog a place to go if they have to go while the family isn’t home. Here’s what you need to know.
First off, what is dog litter?
Well, it’s actually very similar to cat litter in many ways. It comes in a variety of forms: clumping, crystal, pellet, and so on. Unlike cat litter though, the most popular option for dog litter is actually composed of the recycled newspaper that is turned into little pellets.
Also like cat litter, all kinds of dog litter are designed to soak up moisture so you can easily clean it out of the litter box and it also masks the smell so your home stays fresh and clean.
Can all dogs use dog litter?
Technically, yes but that doesn’t mean it is best suited for all breeds of dogs. Many dog owners and pet specialists who have used this in their homes would recommend using dog litter for small dog breeds only.
Their reasoning behind this is simple: the volume of urine and feces produced by a small dog will be much less than a large dog, and a large dog could soak through all the litter available in the box in just one use.
If you have a large breed dog but feel you could definitely use a space in your home where your dog can relieve itself if you need it don’t worry – there are options for larger dogs.
You can try an option like a section of dog turf or absorbent pads. The best place to put these is in an area where there is a hard floor underneath so it won’t absorb into your flooring underneath and will be easy to clean up if your dog soaks through it.
Why would I use dog litter?
An adult dog can hold its bladder for about eight hours, on average, and that time decreases as dogs age or if they’re sick. If a dog has to hold it longer than that they may start to experience some health issues, especially if they’re doing it consistently.
Most people work 8 hours every day, so they’re gone for slightly longer and this means your dog is holding their bladder for longer than they should.
Having space indoors, while not exactly ideal, that your dog can relieve itself when they need to so they aren’t holding their bladder for more than 8 hours at a time.
Additionally, if you live in an area where you get extreme weather at certain times of the year, a litter box for your dog can really help so that you don’t have to take your dog outside and expose them to the extreme weather.
Is dog litter safe?
While there are many warnings against dogs getting into cat litter, what about dog litter when they’re supposed to be using it? Of course it’s recommended to make a decision based on the needs of your dog, your family, and how it will work into your life.
If there is almost always someone home, or the dog is never alone for more than 8 hours at a time, then maybe this isn’t something you need. If your dog is young or has a history of eating and chewing on things they shouldn’t then this could also be something you need to consider before training them to use a litter box.
Since you will need to make sure the dog has access to the box during the day, they will also have access to chew and eat the litter pellets. If this is your dog, you can still train them to use an indoor potty – it may just have to be a piece of turf or perhaps some absorbent pads instead of a litter box.
How often do you need to clean it?
With cat litter, you can usually leave it for a day or two before you have to scoop it or change the litter. When it comes to a dog using a litter box, you should clean out the box every day when you get home from work.
While cleaning it out, you can also replace or completely change out the litter if you need to instead. This will make sure the dog will have a clean place to go when needed the next time you’re out.
Who uses dog litter boxes?
Realistically, there isn’t a limit on who can have a dog litter box in their home.
Some down owners who know they are gone daily for more than 8 hours at a time, even if they have a house with a big backyard, will use it because they don’t want to make their dog hold their bladder or bowels for more than that time.
Additionally, people who live in apartment buildings and may not be able to get their dog down the elevator and outside when there’s an emergency find having a litter box or indoor potty pad to be very beneficial for those rare occasions.
Further, if your dog is aging and unable to hold its bladder very long at all you might find this is a great alternative to your dog wearing diapers during the day.
This allows for your dog to relieve itself when needed, and you don’t have to worry about keeping a diaper on your dog when you aren’t home.
Sounds great, but how do I train my dog to use it?
Training a dog to use a litter box isn’t really much different than training it to go to the bathroom outside like you would a puppy when you first bring it home. Here are some tips for getting your dog to use the litter box
When you bring the litter system into your home and set it up, your dog will likely be naturally curious about it. They might sniff around or even try to help you get it ready.
If this happens, show excitement about the dog investigating it. If they have a positive association with the litter box from you then they will be more likely to use it because they know you approve of it.
Similar to what you might have done when training your dog to go outside, you can use treats to entice your dog to go on in the litter box. If you bring your dog to the box, and your dog goes potty there then reward with a favourite treat.
Stick to a schedule
Do you know that your dog has a routine for going potty? If so, use this to your advantage and when you know they’re probably going to go soon bring them to the litter box and put their paws on it.
Continue to do this until they go potty in the box, and when they do get excited and positive about it including treats or a favourite toy.
Just like when you trained your dog to go outside to go potty, training to use a litter box will not happen over night or right away. It will probably take more than a few potty trips for your dog to figure out what you want.
Try your very best to not get frustrated with your dog, and keep patient so that they still have positive associations with the litter box and will want to use it.
Training your dog to use a litter box might seem like an odd concept at first but the benefits are very clear for those who aren’t at home all day, live in an apartment building or those who have a senior dog who can’t hold it as long.
For those families with large breed dogs, a litter box might not be the exact answer you’re looking for but there are many indoor potty options you can train your dog to use so that you don’t have to worry about messes around your house.
Like anything with training your dog it is going to take time and patience, so shower your dog with love and affection when they do what you want them to do: give them treats, a favourite toy, lots of pets – whatever it is they love the most – and you’ll be rewarded with a dog who is eager to please and will be using a little box in no time!