Can You Litter Train A Dog?

Yes, you can litter train a dog, especially if it’s a small breed. Dog litter boxes and puppy pads provide a great option for apartment dwellers, those who are unable to get outside due to health issues, or those who work long hours.

For success, consistency is key. You should choose a specific, easy-to-clean area for the litter box and guide your dog to it after every meal. Also, provide a reward when your pet uses the box.

Remember, like all training, this process requires patience. Some dogs may resist or not understand what to do at first, but with time and consistency, they can be effectively litter trained.

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

Definitely! Using a litter for your dog might seem like a crazy idea. But it just might be what modern fur-parents are looking for: convenience and practicality. With more people living in high-rise apartments, going up and down for your pet to do his business just doesn’t seem feasible. Work nowadays also requires us to be away for the whole day.

Sometimes rendering overtime to finish work. But rather than worrying about the dogs that we left at home, giving them access to the bathroom through litter boxes can be a solution. 


There’s just one problem.

Mother nature.

Dogs’ natural instincts weren’t made to potty on litter, unlike cats. Felines gravitate towards cat litter because it’s what their instincts tell them. For most cats, just teaching them where the cat litter box is is all you need to do. Dogs, on the other hand, need more time and dedication on our part. Naturally, dogs prefer grass or a firmer medium to eliminate in nature. Be that as it may, training them to use litter boxes, however, is not impossible – just not easy. But first, let’s look at the pros and cons of litter boxes.


  • Provides easy access to old dogs 

One of the reasons why pet owners choose to use a litter box is because of their aging dog. Most senior dogs develop a condition called urinary incontinence. This condition causes dogs to involuntarily pee due to a loss of muscle control in their bladder. Similarly, older dogs also tend to suffer from joint pains like arthritis. This makes it painful for them to go up and down the stairs or walk. While you can provide fish oils rich in Omega 3, decreasing the distance to where they usually potty can help. And providing a litter box inside the house can do just that.

  • Small bladder – frequent pee!

Did you know that the #1 reason why small dogs are abandoned is because of their weakness to be house-trained? This, however, is not due to their inferiority in intelligence but because of their small bladders and high metabolism. Smaller dogs may have higher energy demands, consequently digesting more food and producing waste more frequently. Investing in an indoor toilet provides your cute dog easy access to the bathroom when the urge comes.

  • Pet owners who live in high-rise apartments

Litter boxes are convenient when you don’t have the luxury of a fenced yard for your pup to run and potty. Also, even if you live in an apartment that allows pets and has an elevator, a trip to a nearby grass to potty every now and then is not very practical if you think about it. Putting a litter box on your balcony (provided it’s safe) will fix that.

  • Unpredictable weather

Do you live in a place where there are frequent rain and thunderstorms? If you are, then you know the struggle of letting your pup go potty when it is. A great example is my dog. She has a fear of heavy rain and doesn’t dare go outside, even if that means she has to hold her pee for hours. In cases like these, I provide an indoor potty option for her, like a pee pad. 

Another important note to include is that some owners force their dogs to go outside even if they show signs of fear. However, doing this is not helpful at all. This would cause your puppy to fear going to the bathroom and hold their pee causing internal damage or accidents in the future. 

  • Fur-parents who work long hours

There are times where work is just unpredictable. Your boss may request you to cover a shift unexpectedly without knowing that you have a dog waiting for you to go to the bathroom. Training them to use a litter box can save you this worry. You can cover that shift without worrying about your dog.

  • Owners with mobility issues

Not everyone can go up and down the stairs each time your dog wants to potty. For pet parents who have trouble getting around, an indoor potty space is a life-saver. It gives dogs the freedom to go to the toilet whenever nature demands it. Of course, the option of letting someone take care of their dog is always available.

dog on walk


  • Daily cleaning

While dog litter is convenient, it is also high-maintenance. For you and your dog’s health, the litter box needs to be thoroughly cleaned at least after every use or as soon as you get home. Additionally, you also need to scoop and change the litter regularly. If you’re considering getting one, you should also consider the commitment it will involve. 

  • Odor

Unlike cats, whose natural instinct is to bury their waste, dogs don’t do that. That said, the litter box should be placed in a ventilated area to help with the odor. Some dog owners also invest in pet cleaners that remove the smell. 

Note: Even well-managed dog litters still produce an unpleasant smell. If you plan to train your dog to use a litter box, you should be ready for this possibility.

Things to remember:

  • If you have a male dog, choose a litter box that has higher sides. This would save you cleaning after puddles of pee that didn’t make it to the litter.
  • The litter should be big enough for your dog to turn around and allow him to climb into himself.
  • Pee pads are okay. But dogs, especially puppies, love to turn them into confetti. Although pee pad holders are available in pet retailers.
  • Choose dog litters labeled as non-toxic. Chances are your dog might ingest some of them. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you see a change in their behavior.
  • If your puppy is a digger, then litter pellets might not be for you. 

jack russell

How to train your puppy or dog to use the litter box.

  • Find a place where you can place the litter box. Tip: A perfect area would be accessible to your dog but with a sense of privacy – pretty much where you would put your cat’s litter.
  • Like any dog training, consistency is the key. Put your puppy in the box after waking up in the morning, after a nap, eating, drinking, or when he starts to sniff.
  • If you’re training a puppy, he or she will most likely eliminate 5-30 minutes after eating dog food or drinking water. You may also need to take her to the toilet at least once every 1-2 hours. To help you further nail house-training, using a crate can help you. Keep him in a crate for 20-30 minutes after giving water or food. If you’re training an older dog, watch out for restlessness, sniffing around, spinning in circles, and scratching at the door. It means he has to go. Bring him to the litter box immediately. 
  • Additionally, you may also want to use a dog leash to keep him near the box. While he is going potty, say “Good boy, go potty!” or something similar repeatedly. This gives him the idea that you like it when he uses the litter box.
  • If he has successfully eliminated, give him lots of praises. You can also give him treats as a reward. For puppies, you can use puppy treats as they are smaller in size.
  • If you discover any accidents in the house, do not scold him or hit him. He won’t understand why you are angry. Just calmly clean up. If you catch your puppy pottying in a different area, just quickly rush her to the litter box and praise her if she continues to potty. If you catch your puppy midway, it’s already too late at that point. Scolding her would only be counter-productive.

Bonus question: Can I share the litter box my cat uses?

As much as I’d like to say yes, dogs cannot share a litter box with cats. The first reason is cats are very territorial – especially towards their litter boxes. The rule of thumb for cats is one box per cat plus one extra. This is to make sure that cats have their own space to avoid potty accidents. Even if your cat isn’t very territorial or is good friends with your dog, doesn’t mean they won’t have problems later on. It would save a lot of carpets and cleaning when they decide to urinate around the house to mark their territory.


Dogs can be trained to use an indoor potty. It can provide owners a peace of mind when work demands they stay for another hour or for people who don’t have access to a yard. When training, there are times when your dog won’t take into litters, and that’s okay. Potty training does not happen overnight; just be consistent. You got this!



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