Potty Training Alternatives

posted: 05/15/12
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Potty Training Alternatives for Small Dogs
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It's oodles of fun to have a small dog in the house, especially for the instant Facebook updates her antics provide. Still, there's always the issue of bathroom duties. According to, small dogs relieve themselves at least six times a day -- if you don't want to spend half your life outdoors, it's time to think outside the box (or at least beyond the small patch of grass your dog normally would use.)

You could move the facilities inside by placing newspapers on the floor. Using this method of recycling is cost-effective but potentially messy. Your dog's urine may soak through the newsprint and she could tear the soggy paper to bits, leaving you a stinky mess to clean up.

Disposable potty pads are sometimes infused with pheromones that encourage your dog to relieve herself on them. The pads are more absorbent than newspaper and have a plastic layer to keep wetness from soaking through. The disposable pads also are more expensive, costing an estimated $500 a year.

Reusable potty pads work like the disposable version; they're absorbent and some contain a nontoxic additive to deter bacteria growth and control odor. They last about 300 washes and cost about $10 to $20 a pad. Unfortunately, any method that allows your dog to walk through her urine means she'll track the residue onto your floors and furniture.

You could train your small dog to use a litter box. An initial litter box purchase costs about $50, although some self-cleaning boxes cost upwards of $200, and you'll have to replace the litter about once a week. Your dog won't naturally take to the idea of a litter box the way a cat will, but with persistent effort on your part, she will learn to use it.

If you're really committed to the idea of toilet training your dog, you could buy an indoor toilet system that's just her size. It connects to your home's sewer system, so you'll have the cost of the toilet, plus professional labor for installation, which could total more than $1,000.

Even with high-tech options, some small dogs simply prefer to potty on grass. Tap into this desire by offering an indoor patch of synthetic grass. Although the size of these indoor grass pads varies, most are constructed in layers: scented, antimicrobial turf atop a tray into which urine drains.

If you're OK with a hands-on approach, put your little dog in diapers. Disposable diapers look like those sold for babies, but feature a hole through which you can slip your dog's tail and a modified shape. A package of 10 costs about $6 to $15. Washable diapers are made of fabric, but require a disposable liner. One reusable fabric diaper will run you $10 to $15, plus about 50 cents for each disposable liner.

With time and persistence, you can train your small dog -- be it a puppy or an adult -- to use a potty training method that makes life easier for you both.

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