The idea of training your small dog to use a litter box like a cat might sound a bit wacky. But like most really good ideas, it's just north of genius.
Imagine: Your last meeting of the workday runs long, but you don't have to worry about the stinky mess your furry pal's sure to deposit on the rug in your absence. Sounds a bit less wacky now, doesn't it?
Providing a litter box (and training your dog to use it) offers her as-needed access, no matter what time of the day or night she gets the urge. It's also 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. Even if you do have an expanse of grass, you'll still need to collect your dog's smelly landmines or dodge them every time you walk through the yard — unless she learns to use an indoor litter box.
So how do you convince your dog to use a litter box? You'll need to spend several months offering positive reinforcement when she uses it, but otherwise the exercise is no different than any other type of doggie potty training.
You can use the same techniques on puppies and adult dogs. Feed and water your dog at regular intervals throughout the day. Then take her to the litter box and help her step inside. Say a command word or phrase, like "go potty," to tell her to do her business. If you're training a puppy, she'll most likely eliminate 5 to 30 minutes after eating or drinking. If you're training an older dog, look for the signs that she needs to go — she may whine, pace, sniff around or walk to the door. When she successfully uses the litter box, offer lots of praise and a treat. If you catch her eliminating someplace else, gently scold her and take her to the box. As she begins to use the litter box on her own after a few months, keep up the praise as you decrease her dependence on treats.
So, will your dog and cat need separate, ahem, facilities?