How to Continue Litter Box Training at Home
When your puppy was weaned from its mother, I set them up in a crate with a litter box in one corner a food area and an area for sleeping and playing. I recommend mimicking this set up at home so that your puppy can continue to potty train even when you are not home.
What You Will Need.
Litter Box: I bought mine at Wal-Mart for about $5.00 and it has on it a detachable rim which helps to keep the litter in the box when being used. I like the detachable rim, because if your puppy is too small, he will not be able to jump in so this allows you to adjust the height of the box as your puppy grows.
Litter: DO NOT BUY CLUMPING LITTER Remember that your puppy may eat the litter (as they tend to eat strange things sometimes) and purchase the old school kitty litter and steer clear of fragrances. You will only need a layer of litter about 1.5 – 2 inches deep.
Other Optional Accessories: crate, scooper, decorative screen (to hide the box from company but still allow access for puppy)
Dogs like to defecate in the same place every time and litter box training accompanies their natural instinct very well. Crates are a great way to keep your pup safe when you are not home and they love them when it is introduced and used in the right method. Never use the crate as a punishment, make it a safe happy place. Leave surprise treats in there when your puppy is roaming and always give food or treats when shutting in.
Crate as seen from above
When you are not able to closely monitor you puppy, or when you are away from home place your puppy in the crate, say “crate” and give a treat once they are inside. Feeding your puppy in the crate will further encourage them to love their “den” even if it is done with the door open.
You may wish to have two locations for the litter box which is fine, one in a crate kept in the bedroom so they are with you at night, and one in another main area of the house where the puppy will spend most of his time when roaming.
When you are home and playing with your puppy place him in the litter box often and when if they use it say, “go potty” the second you see them start and have a “potty party” when they finish (such as “Yeah puppy” with lots of enthusiasm) and give them a $100 treat*. This will teach your puppy the “go potty” command which you will be able to use outdoors as well. The puppy will learn to associate the feeling of the litter on his feet as the appropriate place to go potty. DO NOT expect your puppy to remember to run more than 10 feet to get to the litter box in the beginning. Make sure that it is close by the area where they are playing but try not to move the location to much. Remember that a puppy will need to use the bathroom almost exactly 20 minutes after eating, and to urinate about every 2 hours.
Accidents Do Happen!
Try to consider why your puppy has not used the litter box, was he on his way and didn’t make it, could he not get there due to an obstacle such as steps, or was he just too busy playing to remember? In cases such as these the best thing to do is just clean the mess with a pet stain remover and shake your finger at yourself, obviously it isn’t the puppies fault! If you catch your puppy using your carpet as a bathroom say “no” firmly and place them in the litter box and give praise. Only give a $100* treat if they actually finish going potty in there.
What a Mess!
Some puppies like to dig which means litter FLYS EVERYWHERE. To help stop this habit tire your puppy out before placing them in the crate for long periods such as at night or while at work. Play with your puppy or take them for a nice walk to get rid of the extra energy and be sure to leave other toys for the puppy to occupy themselves with during your absence. When all else fails purchase a litterbox with a lid or side guards once your puppy is big enough to jump in.
That’s Great, Now Go Outside!
As your puppy is growing encourage your puppy to potty outside at every possible chance. When you see them go outside use the command “go potty” and reward with a $100* treat. Some people would ultimately like to have their puppy only go outside, and in this case the best bet is to place the litter box outside by slowly gravitating it toward the door you will be using. I don’t recommend this because small dogs such as Chihuahuas have such small bladders that I think it is important for them to have an indoor option for night and work hours, but it can be done.
*a $100 treat is something like a piece of hotdog or bologna. Something they love other than a regular dog treat cheese works great as well.
A site for dog specific litter boxes: http://dog-litter-box.dogs-central.com/index.html