Here at Pawsh Puppies, we chose to go with litter box training rather than the usual pee pad training for our Chihuahua puppies. We feel that pee pads train them to pee or poop on rugs etc. One of our Chi’s who was pee pad trained still has issues with this, and we are still working with her to ask to go outside! Others have told me that they have the same issue, so we decided that litter box training would probably be a better idea in the long run. It is also becoming much more popular with small dog owners, and we wanted to give everyone that option should they choose to continue litter box training. It is especially convenient should you be gone on a day trip, or if you live in an urban setting or high-rise.
How to Litter Box Train Your Puppy
We use the ‘Exercise Pen’ method to litter box train our puppies (more about this in a link below). We begin training our puppies to use a litter box at 3 weeks. Every week, we trust them with a larger and larger “free” area (area with no bed or litter box). By the time they are 8-9 weeks, we usually have them in a 3×3 puppy pen with their food and water, bed, and litter box during “crate time”. When they come to you, they will know how to use a litter box, and what it is for. This is where you will begin their training!
When you are working with your new puppy, be very patient and gentle. Your puppy has a lot of new things to learn, and you will want to take this process slowly and make it a positive experience for you and your new puppy. Start by setting up a pen or crate around 3 feet by 3 feet. We place a square of vinyl flooring underneath this pen just in case they have an accident. Place your puppies bed, food and water, and litter box into the pen or crate. The bed and litter box should be on opposite sides of the pen. They may have a few accidents in their pen when they first come to you as all their surroundings are new; but don’t get upset or yell at your new puppy as this will only upset them further. Instead, calmly reinforce using the litter box by cleaning the mess up, and placing the poop in the litter box. This will teach your new puppy that the litter box is their bathroom. If you catch your new puppy in the act of going to the bathroom in the wrong spot, if possible, quickly and gently move them into the litter box.
As your new puppy gets more confortable in their new home, you can begin to trust him/her with more and more space, and eventually a whole room, then your whole house. This process can take anywhere between 2-6 months. If you have a large home, you may want to use the ‘Scent’ method to litter box train your puppy. For more information about this, I have included a link to a good article about it below. Make sure not to rush this process as your puppy is still tiny, and it will take him time to remember where his/her litter box is located and how to get there. While you are still training your puppy, whenever you see him/her use their litter box, praise them exuberantly, or give them a treat! Puppies are often extremely food and/or praise motivated. It is very important that when they are out of their pen or crate that they are well supervised. The more accidents they have, the harder it is going to be to train your puppy.
What If I Don’t Want To Litter Box Train My Puppy?
If you decide that you would rather have your new puppy use a pee pad or go outside, that is totally fine! Your puppy is still very young, and can easily learn new things. Gentle reinforcement and repetition is very important when house breaking your puppy no matter of the method you decide to use. I have included two great articles about both methods mentioned above.
Article on ‘Scent’ and ‘Exercise Pen’ Litter Box Training
Video on Litter Box Training
Teaching Your Puppy to Use A Pee Pad
Teaching Your Puppy to Go Outside