Why Don’t Dogs Use Litter Boxes? (9 Clear Facts)

One observation that dog owners make (with some frustration) is that the dogs don’t seem to like using litter boxes. And this leads to questions, key among them being on why the dogs don’t use litter boxes. This article explores that subject.

Why don’t dogs use litter boxes? The main reason seems to be in fact that dogs lack a natural instinct for burying their poop. Yet using a litter box entails burying poop in substrate. There is also the fact that many dogs seem to simply find the use of litter boxes inconvenient.

Nonetheless, dog litter box training is possible. This means you can train dog to use litter box.

You only need to know that dogs litter box training is likely to be more difficult than, say, cats litter box training.

Why don't dogs use litter boxes
Why Don’t Dogs Use Litter Boxes?

To get a dog using litter box consistently will take quite a bit of training, with positive reinforcement rewards.

In getting a dog to use a litter box, you will be basically attempting to train it to go against its nature. The dog’s nature is to leave its scent in the open, probably for territory marking purposes.

Yet you are trying to get the dog to do the opposite: to be burying its waste. You shouldn’t expect it to be very easy.

Nonetheless, there are many dog owners who eventually manage to get their pups to use litter boxes. Indeed, litter boxes for dogs are quite well sold in pet supplies stores.

The fact that so many people buy litterbox for dogs means that it is still possible to get dogs to use litter boxes.

 

How Do Litter Boxes Work?

To understand why dogs don’t use litter boxes, we first need to know how the litter boxes work. That will be important later in making sense of the strange relationships between dogs and litter boxes.

So, how do litter boxes work? Firstly, it is important to appreciate that the litter boxes in question here are simply containers into which animals are supposed to poop.

Normally, a litter box will have a space for the animal to poop into. The litter box will also usually have a substrate with which the animal can cover its poop.

So if the litter box is working how it should, then the animal using it should poop into the empty space inside it. Then the animal should use the substrate in it to cover its waste.

The litter box ensures that the animal doesn’t poop all over the place. With a properly working litter box, the pet has a specific spot to poop: inside the litter box.

Further, the litter box ensures that cleaning after the animal is easier. This is because the animal’s waste is in one spot.

A litter box can also help in minimizing smell from the pet’s waste. This is because in a litter box, there is a substrate for covering the waste. And if the waste is covered in substrate, then it doesn’t smell as bad.

So given that this is how a litter box works, why don’t dogs use litter boxes? Why can’t dogs use litter boxes as well as other pets, such as cats? Generally, why don’t dogs poop in litter boxes?

That is what we set out to find out next.

 

Why Don’t Dogs Use Litter Boxes?

One of the most frustrating things dog owners notice is that the dogs don’t like using litter boxes. They certainly don’t use them the way cats do.

This is what leads to questions like, why dont dogs use litter boxes? More specifically, why don’t dogs use litter boxes as cats? Why isn’t it as common for dogs to use litter boxes as cats?

How do cats know to use litter boxes, yet dogs don’t?

So, indeed, why can’t dogs use a litter box naturally the way cats do? Why don t dogs use litter boxes?

The most probable reason why dogs don’t like using litter boxes is in the fact that their natural instincts are against the use of such boxes.

As noted earlier, using litter boxes entails burying waste. Yet dogs are among those animals that prefer not to bury their waste.

So because it is against their natural instincts, you find dogs not liking to use litter boxes.

Another possible reason why dogs don’t like using litter boxes is in the fact that they find it inconvenient.

When you consider the logistics of how dogs poop, you see that litter boxes can be somewhat inconvenient to them.

So you may find that dogs don’t like using litter boxes because they are inconvenient to them.

Asking why dogs don’t like using litter boxes is really akin to asking, why don’t dogs have belly buttons? So it is quite a complex question. (Though, by the way, the dogs do have belly buttons. They are just so small that it is hard to spot them).

As for dogs not liking to use litter boxes, it is about lack of natural instinct for burying waste and inconvenience.

Let’s dig deeper.

 

Lack Of Natural Instinct For Buying Waste As A Reason For Dogs Not Using Litter Boxes

Some animals have a natural instinct to bury their waste. One such animal is the cat. For such animals, using litter boxes comes naturally.

But for some other animals, the natural instinct to bury their waste isn’t there. One such animal is the dog. For such animals, using litter boxes is a challenge.

So the most likely reason for dogs not using litter boxes is in that they lack the natural instinct to bury their waste. Yet using a litter box entails pooping into a box, then burying the waste with a substrate.

In fact, this apparent dislike for litter boxes in dogs often gets dog owners wondering, do dogs need litter boxes at all?

What is always clear though is that using a litter box for dog doesn’t come naturally.

And this is because the dog is one of those animals that prefer not to bury their waste. In fact, for a dog, leaving the waste in the open is advantageous: as it is part of its scent marking strategy.

 

Inconvenience As A Reason For Dogs Not Using Litter Boxes

Most dogs are likely to find litter boxes inconvenient to use.

You need to appreciate that the logistics of dog pooping are different from, say, the logistics of cat pooping.

The dog typically needs lots of space when pooping. Yet the litter box offers more of confinement. This can translate into great inconvenience for the dog.

And it can mean that the dog finds using the litter box unpleasant.

Moreover, unlike cats, dogs tend to poop more. That is because most dogs are bigger. And they have more poop mass per toilet visit.

This means that their litter boxes can fill up faster. And the dog will naturally find it unpleasant to poop in a full litter box.

It is similar to how a human being would find it unpleasant to poop into a full, unflushed toilet.

So in the final analysis, inconvenience is yet another reason for dogs not liking to use litter boxes.

Why don't dogs use litter boxes
Why Don’t Dogs Use Litter Boxes?

 

Can A Dog Be Trained To Use A Litter Box?

Though dogs don’t like using litter boxes, there is no denying that use of litter boxes can greatly enhance convenience for dog owners.

This is why many dog owners endeavor to know whether, somehow, they can get dogs to use litter boxes.

That leads to questions like, will dogs use a litter box at all? Do litter boxes work for dogs at all? Can dogs use a litter box with some training?

Other variants of these questions are like, can dogs pee in a litter box? Can puppies use a litter box? Can dogs poop in a litter box at all? And how do dogs use litter boxes (if at all)?

So those are rather common questions, in dog owner forums.

What is the answer? Will dogs use litter boxes if they are trained to do so? Can dogs be trained to use a litter box at all? At the very least, can small dogs use a litter box, if trained?

The simple answer is ‘yes’. Almost all dogs can be trained to use a litter box.

Training a dog to use a litter box is not as easy as training a cat to do the same though. When setting out for dog litter box training, you need to know that you are setting out for a challenging undertaking.

And you need to be aware of litter box training a dog pros cons points.

Generally though, if you were wondering, can dogs be trained to use litter box, the answer is ‘yes’.

 

How To Train A Dog To Use A Litter Box?

The first step is to put the litter box at a spot that the dog is likely to be comfortable pooping.

Now when you see signs that the dog wants to poop, take him to the litter box. Show him that you would much prefer for him to poop into the litter box.

After he poops, get him to cover the waste with the substrate in the box. This you can do be holding his leg and manually helping him cover the poop with substrate the first few times.

Then reward the dog nicely every time he does so.

Eventually, the dog will start going to the litter box whenever he wants to poop. And eventually, the dog may start covering the poop with the substrate, after you condition him into knowing that that is what he should do.

You can use things like dog pee pads to get the dog to view the litter box as the place to relieve himself.

Those can be especially helpful when potty training a puppy to use a litter box.

While at it, someone may ask, what dogs can be litter trained? And the answer is that all dogs can be litter trained. But just like any other training, it tends to be easier for some dogs than others.

 

Can A Dog And Cat Share A Litter Box?

Many people who keep dogs also keep cats.

This leads to questions like, can dogs use cat litter boxes? Will a dog use a litter box that a cat uses? Can a dog be taught to use a litter box that a cat uses?

So what is the true position? Can a dog use kitty litter box?

The true position is that it is hard for a dog and a cat to share litter boxes. True, there have been reports of dogs and cats that are friendly to each other sharing litter boxes.

But it doesn’t seem to happen often.

In fact, most cats won’t even share litter boxes with other cats!

The dogs themselves are not very picky on where they poop.

Can dogs use litter boxes that cats have used? The answer is probably ‘yes’. But then, the dog using cat litter box may make the cat stop using it.

So the litter box dogs use may no longer be usable by cats.

Ultimately, if you have both a dog and a cat, it is better to simply get a different litter box for each.

 

Selecting An Ideal Litter Box For A Dog

There are ready made litter boxes that are specially designed for dogs, and which are sold in pet supplies stores.

Using a litter box specially designed for dogs is better than, say, using cat litter boxes.

You can also make your own dog DIY litter box.

You need to consider the size of the dog, while selecting or making the litter box.

For instance, a small dog like the Chihuahua will not use litter box if it has problems getting in and out. Just think about it: how can a dog use a litter box if getting in and out is a challenge?

So the size of the dog is a consideration. For a small dog, you get a smaller litter box. For a big dog, you get a bigger litter box.

Further, you need to consider the dog’s gender. Male dogs will typically lift their legs during the peeing phase of their dump sessions. If there is no room for leg lifting, the dogs may not like using the litter box.

So you make an allowance for that.

Also ensure that the substrate in the box is one that dogs can be comfortable with. Grass rather than soil/sand tends to be better for dogs.

 

Final Verdict – Why Don’t Dogs Use Litter Boxes

There are two apparent main reasons for dogs not liking to use litter boxes.

Firstly, dogs apparently don’t like using litter boxes because they lack the natural instinct to cover their waste after pooping. Yet using a litter box entails covering waste with substrate after pooping.

Secondly, dogs apparently don’t like using litter boxes simply because they find the litter boxes inconvenient.

Nonetheless, dogs can be trained to use litter boxes.

Why don't dogs use litter boxes
Why Don’t Dogs Use Litter Boxes?

You only need to ensure that when the dog shows signs of wanting to poop, you take him to the litter box. Then get him to know that you prefer it for him to poop in the litter box.

Reward the dog nicely whenever he successfully poops into the litter box. With time, you may condition the dog into consistently pooping into the litter box.

In fact, with time, you may eventually get to a point at which the dog won’t poop anywhere else, but in the litter box.

As a pet lover, make sure to learn about pet more and give your pet dog a good and comfortable life!

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